CNN’s Don Lemon wore his thoughts on his sleeve in Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine feature on him (published online last Tuesday). In more than one instance he vented to reporter Eric Easter about just how racist America and white people were, while at the same time unironically lamenting about how we didn’t show enough grace to other people. At one point he even suggested that America may not even see blacks as “fully human” at all.
The headline for the interview clearly laid out where they wanted to take things with a quote from Lemon suggesting: “We’re living in two different realities as Black and White people.”
Well into their sit down and after Lemon claimed his goal was to “hold people accountable and still offer grace” (something he has never afforded to people he disagreed with politically), the CNN host elaborated on what he meant when he said President Trump was “the president we deserved.”
And according to him, we “deserved” Trump because Americans needed to see how racist the country actually “is”:
It was a wake-up call to White people who thought we were living in a nonracist world. We’re living in two different realities as Black and White people. We knew, as Black people, what was lurking beneath the surface. I still believe that [Trump] was the necessary wake-up for America to realize just how racist it is.
He went on to argue that it was the duty of black Americans “to guide White people through racism,” and noted that “it’s uncomfortable sometimes, it’s tiring.”
And he warned of the repercussions if they didn’t treat it that way: “Unfortunately to some degree you have to do it, because otherwise they may take the wrong actions, and we want people to do it the right way. And the right way is by understanding and seeing our humanity.”
“These are conversations that I want to have with people I know,” he said. “You can have conversations with people you don’t know, but it’s not the same conversation. I think that is where we’re going to make a difference.”
Easter prefaced his final question by noting the Lemon was putting himself out there “bit by bit” and wondered: “Is that something you’ve wanted to, or something you’ve felt like you’ve had to do?” Lemon responded with a suggestion that America was not used to seeing people like him:
I feel like I’ve had to do that because I don’t think America has seen enough people like me. I don’t think America intimately knows enough people like me. I would love America to see Black people, especially Black gay men as — and I hate this word — normal, and as human beings and as part of the culture.
It was then that he asserted that Americans might not see blacks as “fully human”:
We love, we hurt, and we go through trials and tribulations just like anyone else. I don’t know if America sees Black people and especially Black gay men as fully human, and as deserving of the American Dream.
“I put myself out there because that’s the only way I know to do it. Not just for White America, but Black America as well,” he touted himself.