Did you see it last night on CNN? Don Lemon went full Huey Newton and called a racist a racist! It was glorious, but let’s slow down a bit—Don Lemon’s Afro didn’t grow to Colin Kaepernick levels.
In fact, watching the metamorphosis of Lemon from passive Don Lemon to mildly annoyed Don Lemon has been a sight. And it’s only a sight because Lemon isn’t Joy-Ann Reid or Angela Rye—meaning that Lemon has let racism go unchecked on his show for centuries (something neither of those two women would ever have let happen)—so finally watching him call a racist by his name has many running to crown Lemon the Godfather of Wakanda. But let’s be more selective about who we give the Wesley Snipes Award for Nino Brown levels of blackness.
In truth, President Donald Trump gave Lemon no choice. On Thursday, Trump told a room full of Congress members that he didn’t want people (read: black and brown people) coming to the United States from “shithole” countries.
Then Lemon took to his show and said this: “This is CNN Tonight, I’m Don Lemon. The president of the United States is racist. A lot of us already knew that.”
None of those congressmen in attendance protested Trump’s racist banter. For the record, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin (who has arguably the best porn name in Congress), who was at that meeting, ain’t shit. He’s out here now on this “Dick Durbin knows black people” tour in which he’s using the president’s negative press to make himself look better.
In fact, now ole Dicky D. from Illinois is running this line about the offensiveness of using the term “chain migration,” but he missed a huge point when he said that “African Americans believe that they migrated to America in chains.”
Umm, the fuck? No, we don’t. We believe that we were beaten, raped and killed, and those who were able to survive unfathomable levels of cruelty landed here, only to be enslaved and sold Christianity. So, Dick Durbin, stop speaking for black people.
But this is what white supremacist ideology does: It’s so far right that centering an argument by saying, “Hey, I think wearing khakis and carrying tiki torches and goofy haircuts is a bad idea” can make you look revolutionary. And sadly, this is how Lemon was made to look like a revolutionary leader last night: not because he said some righteous shit, but because he said that some outrageous shit was outrageous.
Never forget that before the president called black and brown countries “shitholes”—which the president has denied saying but we all know he said—it was Lemon who said that Trump deserved credit for finally putting the racist Obama Birther claims to rest. Never forget that it was Lemon who once claimed that the black community needed to look at the sagging-pants culture of young black men during the protests over the tragic death of Trayvon Martin.
I don’t like pigeonholing people to sound bites, but a black man who will use Bill O’Riley to explain what black people need to do can easily get ready to read his acceptance speech for the Rachel Dolezal “Nah, nigga” lifetime achievement award.
This bizarro Lemon whom we’ve been witnessing lately isn’t a blackened version of the CNN pundit; he’s merely a testament to the bottomless nature of the Trump administration’s bullshit. The wheels are falling off the White House, and Lemon pointing out that the president is racist doesn’t make him revolutionary, or even mildly militant; it makes him Captain Obvious. And the sad part is that it took him this long to realize and acknowledge it.