Yesha Callahan

Don Lemon Responds To Russell Simmons During ‘CNN Newsroom’ Segment (VIDEO)


In case you’ve missed it, Don Lemon has been having an interesting month. This is probably the most publicity he’s received in his entire career, not to mention the possible ratings boost CNN has garnered because of his “tough” talk to Black people. But not everyone is buying the lemonade that Don is selling from his CNN stand.

The most recent celebrity to speak out against Don Lemon, was Mr. Rushcard himself, Russell Simmons. In a letter penned for The Huffington Post, Simmons gave some hefty advice to Lemon on what he should be speaking out against:

Dear Don,

I got a chance to see what you said over the weekend about black America. At first I thought it was Fox News, but then I remembered you’re a CNN dude. I have nothing against Fox News, as Roger Ailes is my man, but the gospel you were preaching sounded like O’Reilly and Hannity were pulling your strings. Thank goodness my political director, Michael Skolnik, was on the show to stand up for African-Americans, because conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community. I respect your courage on many other issues, but I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or wear belts around their waistbands.

Hip-hop language and clothing styles are expressions of frustration with the status quo. Young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rockin’ afros, dashikis or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s. And many of those rebellious youth grew up to be quite successful… bell bottom-wearing, pot-smoking, Barry Obama became the President of these United States of America and a long-hair, anti-war activist named John Kerry became Secretary of State defending our country in more creative ways than just using violence. They were knee-deep in a rebellious culture, and did anything but integrate into a world that they saw is filled with problems that needed fixing, filled with challenges, or in their mind, with problems that they could fix. And now they are fixing them.

When this country closes 50 schools in black communities and continues to build more prisons, I know that young people see through the institutionalized bullshit that is laid out in front of them every single day of their lives. The lucky ones, like you and me, owe a real explanation of the problems in our community to the ones who are still living in struggle, not some old, conservative talking points left in the garbage from Mitt Romney’s campaign. I understand personal responsibility far too well, but you can’t ask them to pull up their pants and then stand idle as they fear getting shot in the heart by wannabe cops while walking home to watch basketball games.

If you want to tell the rest of America this weekend when you go back on CNN how we fix black America, tell them to re-start the “War on Poverty.” Tell them to end the failed “War on Drugs” that has cost this nation over one trillion dollars and unjustly incarcerated a generation of black men. Tell them to support the President’s plan for universal Pre-K, so no child enters elementary school having to play catch up with the other children who are fortunate enough to go to pre-school. Tell them make college affordable and obtainable for young students who come from low-income families. Tell them that the right to a healthy life should be universal and not just for the fortunate few. And lastly, tell them that young black men and women don’t just need “role models” or “mentors,” they need “sponsors” who are willing to offer them a job.

I want the black kids to grow up and be like you. I want them to know that their imagination is god inside of them and I want all kids, but especially black kids, to have the freedom to dream as well to create their own language. After all, without their jazz, blues, rock n’ roll and now their hip-hop, America wouldn’t even have a language of its own, much less a culture.

Well, as tit-for-tat goes, Lemon recently spoke out against Simmons’ critique during a recent CNN Newsroom segment:


Tag, Russell Simmons, you’re “it”.

I’ll just grab some popcorn to see how this will unfold between these two men with so  much invested in the Black community.

  1. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    I haven’t found the answer to my question yet.
    Did Don Lemon actually say ‘This how you, black people, can help eradicate racism’? Then he had gone one to spiel about pulling up pants and stop littering on streets.
    If so…

  2. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    If people want a really good read please look for Boyce Watkins:Why is CNN Allowing Don Lemon to Go Into Angry Tirades Against Black People? article. He went ham on don lemon. Trust me , he is not going to challenge brother Boyce to be on his show

  3. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    Don Lemon won; he’s more intelligent than Russel Simmons. However, it doesn’t make Don Lemon or Barack Obama right in deflecting the blame for white supremacy and psychological warfare taken out on blacks onto black youth.

    Russel’s attack was so messy, it makes me think that he engineered it, deliberate, so that Lemon’s and Obama’s argument would appear strong/valid. I’ve never seen Russel Simmon’s as someone genuinely empathetic to the plight of humanity because he’s so, strategically, capitalist-driven.

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply

      @Beautiful Mic

      Boyce Watkins beautifully articulates my views on Don Lemon:

      “Don also possesses the arrogance that comes with being a young, light-skinned black man who’s been elevated by the legitimacy granted to leading blacks who are accepted by white American media. CNN, MSNBC and other networks have long been in the business of creating “black thought leaders” by simply giving them a large platform to serve as mouth pieces for an agenda that has typically left us at the back of the bus”

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        This is just pathetic. How long do we have to hold people’s hands and stroke their egos over their particular shade of black/brown? Don Lemon expressed an opinion. One doesn’t have to agree but descending to pseudo science to discredit him makes me shake my head. The not light skinned Bill Cosby has said something similar.

        There’s a lot wrong in our community and some of it we control. We are not helpless babies who need to be rescued. Pulling up your pants is not a racist notion. Besides looking silly, it celebrates prison culture, which is nothing to be proud of. How many of you go to work with your pants cinched below your butt? Who would hire you? It reflects how you want to be seen by the world and I sure don’t want it representing me in my workplace. I know parents who REFUSE to let their kids go out the door with their pants hanging down. People will look at you and assume you are a thug then you have the audacity to get mad because people think you are a thug. Anyone over the age of 25 with sagging pants needs to grow the hell up.

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        I am surprised at the number of people who are angry with Don Lemon for speaking the truth about what black people have to do if we are going to better our communities, but not as angry at Russell Simmons for posting such a silly open letter. When are we going to stop blaming everyone else for our problems and work it out from within?

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply

      @Beautiful Mic

      What did Don win. Instead of worrying about sleeping with White men, maybe he should step out and be a man for his community. Bleh.

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        Just what does Don Lemon’s sex life have to do with his commentary or opinions about this subject? Pointless homophobic insult…

  4. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    As Boyce Watkins stated, the perspective Don Lemon (as well as Barack Obama) expresses market’s and validates white supremacy to white people.

  5. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    Although I have some issues with what Don Lemon said (or at least the way he said it,) Russell Simmons is someone who I feel profits from putting down black people actually walk around looking like they have jobs. Simmons has been known to be quick to call suit wearing people with degrees the equivalent of sell outs or Uncle Toms. The fact of the matter is that Simmons benefits financially from street fashion and identification with what some call thug life. Lemon pointed out correctly that saggin’ is a case of prison culture going mainstream, just like the proliferation of tattoos that I am afraid that those a generation younger than me are going to end up regretting as they age.

    Lemon made the best point of all when he said it is time for black people not to do things that we know are not good for us. Whether it affects racism or not, we need to be positive, and elevate those things that will drag us down.

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply


      I don’t recall saying Don Lemon was perfect and the world would be fine if we all emulated him. For that matter, he did not say that himself. Similarly, I admire Russell Simmons as a businessman, I just don’t like how he tries to put down those he sees college types.

      I am not one who feels that he needs to prove his blackness or consciousness someone. I call BS as I see it. YMMV.

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        What does Lemon do to drag black people down?

      • August 13, 2013 - Reply


        @ Anthony, I guess tell the truth.

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply


      SMH, sagging is something that is more pronounced among young black men than any other group, and the practice has its origin in our community.

      As I said before, I am under no illusion that Lemon is some great progressive. I also understand that Simmons benefits financially from staying close to the street.

      I also have been a black man more than half a century. I know from hard experience that being well dressed and well spoken will not stop a racist from being racist. I also know that being level headed, knowledgeable, and well spoken can blunt a whole lot of potential pitfalls. It also pays to have your insurance and registration up to date, and no outstanding warrants. Cops love to take a small thing and make a mountain out of a molehill. Obviously, in a situation like NYC’s stop and frisk, there is nothing we can do except sue the city.

      I think that being mindful of the image one projects is just being smart. Sag all you want at the party or the club. If you are simply out on business like work or school, dress the part!

  6. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    i no longer listen to don lemon…..

    • August 13, 2013 - Reply


      I confess that I have never watched Lemon, and I don’t care for CNN. I get the impression that Lemon is pretty middle of the road, and seen as non-threatening. That would not make him a favorite of mine, but it might also mean that like a broken clock, he might right twice a day.

  7. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    In my opinion, Don Lemon is clueless. Also, his negative disclaimers prior to his response cancelled his ‘taking the high road.’ …….reminds me of tavis smiley.

  8. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    I have noticed that the spokesperson on Black issues for Russell Simmons is white. I actually saw him on Don Lemon’s CNN show.

    So Russell Simmons calls out Don Lemon, but he can’t find any qualified Black people to serve as HIS spokesperson on our issues?

    How in the world does this make any sense?

  9. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    I first agreed with Russell, but now I must agree with Don. Brilliant, Don. You brought the very salient points to the forefront, and they would be understood, I’m sure, by everybody. Good Going! And, no, Don ain’t likeTavis.

  10. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    SIGH. To Ol Lemonhead I say….what he said via youtube~> ildoc1 on Don Lemon, Race and Respectability.

    What some folks fail to realize is that Negroes like Lemonhead are on the opposite side of the same coin of the very Black Community he chastizes and derides. Internalized Oppression/Racism is a B!#$# . Until the systems that oppress change, there will always be those who act out against it, digest it, regurgitate it, etc., etc. But if we keep in-fighting and changing the course of the conversation to reflect back on each other instead of where the focus lies, then we keep the systems in tact, and those with the fat pockets, stay with the fat pockets, profiting off of all the pain.

  11. August 13, 2013 - Reply

    But Russell, equating that ignorance known as “sagging” with dashikis and afros???? Not at all! One is crude. One, to the majority of people with COMMON SENSE, makes you look a nasty, ignorant and damn fool! My having to see entire asses of masses of boys…, naw, no relation to a fro dude. Grow up Russell.

    Don isn’t perfect, but he speaks more common sense than Rus—an embarrassing apologist.

  12. August 14, 2013 - Reply

    I’m glad Russell called Lemonhead out….he made some very good points! And him having a white spokesperson makes more sense to me as a brotha with dreds married to a “non-black” person. Anyways, Russell is known for dating and hiring non-blacks but should that take away from the true points he made? Just asking….

  13. August 15, 2013 - Reply

    Good job Don! Well said and you’re right on point!

  14. August 16, 2013 - Reply

    Equating sagging pants to afros and dashikis is insulting. Do not dare put the likes of Lil’ Wayne and Barack Obama in the same letter. You are talking about two completely periods of time. Those afros and dashikis worn in the 60s and 70s were symbols of Black pride and were followed up by strong action in the name of civil rights and equality.

    The sagging pants worn by a lot of our youth, (yes, I know it’s not just Black youth), is a fashion statement with origins in the prison system. Why would Black teenagers in particular co-opt something so negative, especially in light of the institutional injustices that Russell Simmons accurately points out in his letter to Don Lemon?

    When Russell Simmons talks about War on Poverty, I laugh because his Rush Card charges money in order for its users, many of whom are Black and/or live below the poverty line, to access THEIR OWN MONEY!! If he really wanted to revolutionize banking and help, he could have taken a stand against fees that make it more difficult for those mentioned to build a solid credit history. So no, Russ, I’m not feeling you on that.

    And let’s not even discuss what hip-hop has degenerated into. It is not the voice of Black youth anymore, so stop it. Most of hip-hop’s consumers nowadays are white suburban kids. Most lyrics are some iteration of “Gold watch on my wrist, Gucci on my feet, Maybachs in my driveway, Yachts on the water…” Aspirational, sure, but it’s all about MATERIALISM, not ACTIVISM. And most in the game now, Russell included, are extremely misogynist, with a deep hatred and fetishism of Black women.

    Unless Russell Simmons engaging his so-called buddies, many of whom are among the 1% of the highest economic stratum to take many of the actions he suggests (like hiring said “sponsoring” Black youth by offering them a job), he gets the side-eye.

    I wasn’t 100% on-board with everything Don Lemon said, either, and know it’s tough to air out our intra-racial dirty laundry, but in this battle, to me, it’s

    Don Lemon-1
    Russell Simmons-0

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