The other week CNN anchor Don Lemon got on air and made this ridiculous assertion about moving to Harlem, seeing lots of folks walking around with their pants sagging and concluding that racist Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly was correct in his assessment as to why Black people have problems.. It’s because too many folks have their pants sagging..
If we follow Lemon’s line of thinking.. All that’s needed is some is ‘tough love’ maybe in the form of laws banning the practice of sagging, along with all our churches, civic organizations and schools going all out pushing the message that poverty, inferior healthcare, subprime lending schemes and institutional racism are secondary causes to our collective mistreatment… It’s sagging pants..
Message to Don Lemon: It was just a couple of years ago that we had sitting law makers like Senator Rick Santorum and Congresswoman Michele Bachman to name a few, who were pretty much blaming gay folks who ‘acted upon their sexual orientation’ for having negative impact on kids and society at large. In their minds, if only people like you Don would stay hidden in the closet America would be better off..
How this sort of thinking plays out Don, is one might claim that if God forbid you were ever discriminated against, harassed or physically assaulted by someone who was homophobic and intolerant, it might be because you brought upon yourself by announcing to the world your sexual preference or if you were seen publicly showing affection to your boyfriend.
As you know Don, this backwards thinking is playing itself in countries like Russia who just recently enacted a anti pro gay law that will apply to people like yourself who visit the country to cover events like the Olympics. This new law will allow you to be put in jail for 14 days if you display something pro-Gay like the rainbow flag or if you speak in support of Gays..
The wording of the law is vague which means people may act all sorts of ways in interpreting and enforcing it.. but the logic is the same as yours.. ‘If only these gay people would pull up their sagging pants (translation..be quiet and don’t say anything indicating their sexual orientation) Russian society would be better off.
This backwards thinking which is now law is no different from what has been espoused by unknown and prominent folks alike who feel that a women who is harassed or raped, brought it upon herself because wearing a skirt hat was too short or she showed too much cleavage… he Don Lemon-sque logic goes ‘f only women dressed ‘respectably’ they would not be raped..How about if only those committing rapes behaved correctly and didn’t act so destructively?
Since Don Lemon made those dingbat assertions about sagging pants, we’ve seen a number of negative racial attacks directed at Black folks including, sheriff deputies in Florida shooting a 60-year-old unarmed man named Roy Middleton, 15 times as he reached into his car parked in his driveway to get a pack of cigarettes.
How this happened was the man’s neighbor saw the guy rummaging around in the car, he got suspicious and called the police who came through and simply shot Middleton. There was no struggle. There was no argument.. There was no police even identifying themselves..
The sheriff of Escambia County where the shooting took place claims that Mr Middleton lounged for them which is why he was shot 15x… He claims the deputies followed correct police protocol and so needless to say there will be no one charged with the shooting.. Mr Middleton luckily is still alive.. For that we are happy.. What one might question is how is it two officers shot a guy 15x and hit him only twice?
In any case, one thing we are certain of is that Roy Middleton wasn’t wearing sagging pants..For that matter neither was Trayvon Martin when he was shot by George Zimmerman, but we had Lemon’s journalism peer Gerald Rivera assert that if only Trayvon had no worn a hoodie, he’d be alive today.
Sean Bell when he was shot 50 times. wasn’t wearing a hoodie or sagging pants, nor was former military vet Kenneth Chamberlain Sr when cops entered his home and shot him to death..
Rekia Boyd who was mistakenly shot by an off duty cop in Chicago wasn’t wearing sagging pants, nor was Brown Beret Annette Garcia the mother of 3 when she was shot by Riverside Sheriffs….
There’s a long list of Black folks shot dead by out of control police who were unarmed and not wearing sagging pants…and historically speaking, when Blacks were being lynched with impunity back in the early part of the last century, they weren’t wearing sagging pants either…
The larger point I’m getting at is there is the individual and how we as a community think he or she should be dressing and behaving.. And we have what’s systemic… This includes policy, patterns of selective enforcement of laws and the use of deadly force and how one a system holds one accountable when individuals operating within that system does wrong..
So lose me with the whole sagging pants argument when lots of well dressed, articulate law-abiding Black folks are being shot, disrespected and abused by police operating within a system that rewards them rather than punish them for wrong doing..
All that I said should be obvious, but sadly in 2013, there are lots of folks who are granted mainstream access and visibility like Don Lemon and sports columnist Jason Whitlock to name a few who serve the system of white supremacy by constantly apologizing for it.. Ideally folks like Lemon would do better by using their journalisitic resources and unearthing what sort of things are in play that keep alive systems of racial oppression.
Perhaps Lemon can expose how many millions money corporations make off selling oversized pants.. Or perhaps Lemon can talk about the investments media outlets like Viacom have in private prisons.. Instead of co-signing Bill O’Reilly how about exposing how much of their ratings are tied to them demonizing and disparaging Black people? Instead of demanding folks change their way of dressing, how about pushing for people to stop being intolerant?
Maybe Don Lemon can talk about why media outlets like his own CNN spend time sensationalizing the way people dress versus highlighting the millions of hard working people who are doing great work in the communities he wants to lambast.
I’m glad J-Smooth from our sister station WBAI addressed this issue intelligently and humorously with his new Ill Doctrine Commentary.. He Goes In…