*I’m not sure about you, but there’s something that irks me about Whoopi Goldberg and Don Lemon. Don is the anchor at CNN who seems compelled to make sure that the entire world knows he’s gay, and Whoopi is the host who once comfortably overlooked child rape allegations against filmmaker Roman Polanski, primarily because he’s famous. So, to say that these two people are liberal would be quite the understatement.
Most people don’t have an issue with the fact that Lemon is gay (I think I lost Roland Martin as a friend after speaking out against his Twitter attacks on the gay community), but Don’s insistence on presenting himself to white liberals as the great rejected visionary of the highly dysfunctional black community makes him appear nothing short of entirely pompous.
This week, Lemon and Goldberg turned themselves into instant experts on race relations by stating that there should be no problem with media outlets using the N-word on the air. Both of them made it clear that they do not like the word, but argued that a journalist should never take the time to replace the N-word with something more appropriate (as I just did in this sentence).
I am not one to say that I disagree entirely with Goldberg and Lemon. I hear the n-word regularly and it rarely bothers me all that much. But what must be remembered by any white person listening in the room is that there are millions of black folks who think that Whoopi and Don are full of it. For so many members of the black community, the n-word can NEVER be appropriately used on CNN or any other media outlet. The word is painful and disrespectful to some, no matter what the context.
The dirty little secret that is forgotten by many of the black liberals who have high paying jobs in New York is that quite a few African Americans are conservative. They love President Obama like nobody’s business, but they disagree with many of the liberal policies being touted by the Obama Administration. Many of them vote Democratic largely because the Republicans are so much more racist than the Democrats.
Another thorn in the side of the black community is the manner by which white media outlets are allowed to select “the chosen negroes” to speak for all of black America. The truth is that if you go into the black community and ask rank-and-file citizens about the voices they respect the most, they are often not the overnight celebrities who happened to meet the right CNN executive at a cocktail party. Such voices can lead to a distorted perception of what “all black people think” and when views are presented without alternative perspectives, the truth fails to see the light of day.
So, Don and Whoopi have legitimate perceptions of the black experience, although their backgrounds were somewhat unique from those of us who didn’t convert to Judaism or write a book about black homophobia. Also, once has to wonder about the paternalism of both the Democratic and Republican parties, who seem determined to somehow “elevate our minds” to possess the value systems they wish to inject into our psyches.
What must be remembered is that no one speaks for all of us, whether it be Al Sharpton, Whoopi Goldberg or anyone else with a strong liberal platform. By taking the advice from the few black people within their grasp, CNN and MSNBC could end up walking right into a racial disaster.