Don Lemon is the latest black public figure to articulate racial “insight” incongruent to the actions that engendered his relevance. I use the term “insight” loosely, as Lemon merely uses his popular platform to state unpopular views that predate his existence. The views I reference are Lemon’s recent comments that white people still do not see black people as human.
Lemon’s comments, of course, referenced a truth easily illustrated by the frequent murder of black people vindicated by the very laws that serially indict those who they refuse to protect. What remains implicit in this country is that humans deserve and receive that which those dehumanized do not: protection.
What other groups of people must fight so vehemently for what should be readily given? What other people are tarred and feathered for standing up for themselves or their people? Black humanity remains questionable in the eyes of a country where black dehumanization remains integral.
Though villainized by white America, passionate black leaders had a simple demand- treat black people as humans. A demand this nation answered with a violent and forceful “no” painted in bullet wounds that incited our most passionate leaders’s earthly departure.
Lemon’s words, however, convey a viable means to decode and conceptualize the behavior of systemized African people. The style that made Lemon a household name in journalism conveys an attempt to be human, as does his choice for a life partner. Specifically, Lemon’s espousal to anti-black ideologies professionally and personally illuminate an effort consummate an anti-black version of humanity. Lemon’s coverage of the Ferguson riots in 2015, where he mitigated domestic terrorism in words that belied what viewers watched, illustrated a preference for white comfort over truth. Additionally, his romantic choice reflects an attempt to be human with increased proximity to whom he believes to embody the concept.
The extent to which the anti-black forces haunt the western world harbors an understated presence in the African-descended psyche. “Representation,” or the social reproduction of supremacist ideas in variant, matters more than it should because of ingrained views of black inhumanity. Notably, black people who seemingly attain status as representative earn reverie for their increased proximity to humanity or whiteness.
I say this to say that Lemon has the platform he does because of deeply ingrained views of black inhumanity. His status as an “articulate” mouthpiece for CNN’s “diverse” white nationalism exists for the same reasons.
Furthermore, Lemon’s words matter not for their content but because they elucidate cognitive dissonance as a core weapon in contemporized whiteness. Truth intertwined with the harsh consequences of the reality it engenders exposes anti-blackness as a social and linguistic labyrinth that boasts in the confusion that obscures the severity of its oppression.