CNN’s Don Lemon rubbed a few people the wrong way when he defended Bill O’Reilly’s claim that hip-hop culture has a negative influence on the Black community, and went on to offer five tips on how to decrease violence within the inner city — including telling African-American teenagers to stop wearing baggy jeans, using the N-word, dropping out of school, littering in their neighbors and having children out of wedlock.
Russell Simmons responded to “5 Things Blacks Need To Do” list with in an open letter posted on his website Global Grind. He described Lemon’s remarks as “conservative talking points left in the garbage from Mitt Romney’s campaign” and suggested that the news anchor reads his letter in its entirety before going back on air this weekend.
“The gospel you were preaching sounded like O’Reilly and Hannity were pulling your strings,” the hip-hop entrepreneur wrote. “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.”
He pointed out that President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry were also once “knee-deep in a rebellious culture” but “grew up to be quite successful.”
“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,” he explained. “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.”
Read Simmons’ full letter below and tell us if you agree.