I remember a few months ago when pop star Rihanna made a speech lauded by many because of the pop-star-turned-business woman’s public proclamation of blackness and call for “allies” to remain accountable. If black tajectory in the United States has taught the black anything, its that we have no allies. This speech, in referencing “Allies,” illuminated a distinction between those who felt seen with this message and those of whom this message was intended. Rihanna’s speech addressed the “Allies,” yet it was those of African descent who sang her praises, revealing the true function of this speech. Rihanna, whose blackness functioned more as a implication than a proclamation prior to this speech, illuminates how the contemporary climate depicts a superficial black consciousness through “enlightened” celebrities, while employing the black celebrity to speak to and vindicate those of the majority.
This post, however, is not about Rihanna, but about Don Lemon. Lemon, like Ms. Fenty, attained status as a means to diversity the white agenda and, also like Ms. Fenty, steps into a superficial black consciousness besides a non-black significant other.
In the past few weeks, Don Lemon has gone viral a number of times for appearing to call out racism. Garnering the most traction is perhaps an on-air tirade where Lemon spoke directly to Donald Trump regarding negative comments Trump made about former president Barack Obama.
The praise extended to Lemon is undeserving to say the least, because Lemon’s words merely articulate the obvious. His actions, and seemingly strengthened spirit, do not reflect leadership. Instead, Lemon’s actions elicidate someone who follows the trend of castigating Donald Trump. Lemon, like those with whom his behavior forms an alliance, is not against racism, he is against Donald Trump. Specifically, Lemon is anti whites who do not confirm to the superiority caricature to which he has sculpted his life and ambitions.
Lemon’s behavior reminds the black collective of a historical distinction illuminated in the Trump administration; Abolitionist does not constitute anti-racism anymore than anti-trump constitutes pro-black.
Let us not forget that a few years ago, Lemon refused to speak up after a black female student was violently dragged from her desk by a white school official. Thus, Lemon elucidates what the Trump era has engendered many to forget: that speaking out against white people is not the same as speaking up for black people when it is NOT popular.
It is of greater value to speak out for the George Floyds, Tamir Rices, and Sandra Blands before they’re in body bags, just as it far more significant to project love for black skin, black aesthetics, and the black experience before the white world said it was cool.
For that reason, just as a white supremacist world is still bound to anti-blackness, a lemon is still a lemon.