Don Lemon in 2014
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for ADCOLOR Awards

CNN’s resident bastion of blackness is speaking out in support of recent comments by Charles Barkley about how black people tear each other down when one deems another “not black enough.” Barkley made the comments last week after a report that some Seattle Seahawks players thought Russell Wilson wasn’t black enough.

“Unfortunately, as I tell my white friends, we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. It’s a dirty, dark secret; I’m glad it’s coming out,” Barkley stated on a radio show.

Barkley continued, stating that it’s the “unintelligent” black people who hate on the successful black people in the world. “And for some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person … ”

The whole not-black-enough talk isn’t anything new, and chances are, a lot of people have either stated this to someone in their life or have been on the receiving end of such comments. The thing is, what Barkley and many people fail to realize is that it doesn’t matter how intelligent a black person you are or how successful you are; you’re still an n-word in the eyes of some nonblack people.

The least of a black person’s worries is whether he or she is black enough to another black person. I think most of us care more about whether our blackness will cause us to be racially profiled, to be shot while unarmed or to be discriminated against in the workplace. Just as the least of Russell Wilson’s worries is probably not whether his teammates think he’s black enough but whether they can pull out a win against an opponent.


But let’s touch upon Lemon’s comments.

“If I don’t carry a certain narrative, I’m then an Uncle Tom and sellout,” Lemon stated.

Personally, I’ve never seen or heard anyone refer to Lemon as an Uncle Tom, but maybe Lemon is called certain names not because he won’t push a certain narrative but because he only pushes a certain narrative. Which is pretty much the one written for him by CNN.


If you recall, last year Lemon became pretty unpopular with his “five things” list of ways black people needed to change to combat racism. Because, you know, only black people can combat racism. Those things were pulling up your pants, not littering, stopping having out-of-wedlock children, no longer using the n-word and finishing school.

Lemon’s finger-pointing narrative directed at the black community and his respectability politics are probably why a lot of people have mixed feelings about him. Instead of pointing the finger at things black people need to do or should do, maybe Lemon should look at the bigger picture.


Another thing about Lemon is that he seems to be oblivious to racism and what some people in the black community go through until he specifically is involved. Remember that time Lemon was racially profiled while shopping and he tried to sue? Or even the time a white actor thought Lemon was a bellhop at a hotel? That’s when Lemon chooses to pull out his handy race card.

Lemon, not everyone thinks you’re an Uncle Tom, but there are some people who feel that maybe you should be a little more fair and balanced in your critiquing of the black community.