CNN anchor Don Lemon came to the defense of Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Saturday regarding O’Reilly’s heavily-criticized take regarding crime in the African-American community.
“In my estimation, he doesn’t go far enough,” Lemon said in a commentary, before going on to list five tips for Black Americans to improve their living situation, starting with an entreaty to young African-American men to stop letting their pants sag as a fashion choice.
“Walking around with your a*s and your underwear showing is not okay,” Lemon said. “In fact, it comes from prison. When they take away belts from prisoners so they can’t make a weapon. And then it evolved into which role each prisoner would have during male-on-male prison sex.”
Lemon also advised Black viewers to stop saying “the N-word,” to encourage young members of the community to finish their education and to “respect where you live.”
“I’ve lived in several predominantly white communities in my life,” Lemon said. “I rarely, if ever, witnessed people littering. I live in Harlem now. It’s a historically Black neighborhood. Every single day, I see adults and children dropping their trash on the ground when the garbage can is just feet away. Just being honest here.”
Additionally, Lemon cited an oft-mentioned statistic saying 72 percent of African-American children were born out of wedlock. But that figure has been in dispute since as far back as 2009, when columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out in The Atlantic that the birth rate among Black women was actually declining at the time, and that the birth rate for married Black women was lower than among married white women.
“There is no data to show that the black ‘illegitimacy’ figure of 70 percent has been caused by unmarried black women having more kids than they did in the past,” Coates wrote at the time.
Lemon’s remarks were also ripped in a subsequent panel discussion by Global Grind editor-in-chief Michael Skolnick.
“I think your remarks sound like a conserative preacher on a Sunday,” Skolnick told Lemon. “Certainly Bill O’Reilly should welcome you on his show. I’m disappointed in you. You’re talking about sagging pants? I’ve heard this rap for years, talking about sagging pants. Let’s talk about why we incarcerate 2.2 million people in this country, and why young kids look up to guys who come out of jail.”
“Michael, not every Black kid is in jail,” Lemon countered. “And there are rules. People should know where that style comes from. Whether it’s a Black kid, a white kid, a Black kid, whether it’s Justin Bieber. That is glorifying prison culture. Who wants to see someone’s butt-crack?”
When Lemon asked Skolnick whether hip-hop culture glorified that aethetic, Skolnick shot back that the music is a reflection of society.
“Don’t break the mirror, look at yourself,” Skolnick told Lemon.
Lemon was backed up in his argument by conservative radio host Larry Elder, who argued that neither he nor O’Reilly went far enough, blaming the disintegration of the Black nuclear family on then-President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “war on poverty” initiatives in 1965.
“We have been giving people incentives to marry the government and allowing men to abandon their moral and financial responsibility,” Elder argued.
Lemon’s commentary, posted by CNN on Saturday, can be seen below.
And the panel discussion that ensued, posted on YouTube by user “Den Havoc,” can be seen here.