CNN’s Don Lemon and music mogul Russell Simmons finally came face to face and discussed Lemon’s controversial critique of the black community, and Simmons’ reaction to it.
Simmons previously wrote an open letter to Lemon, which Lemon responded to on the air. Now the two have finally hashed things out in an interview that aired Saturday.
Their exchange of words began about a month ago when Lemon commented on Fox News host Bill O’Reilly‘s assessment of the black community.
His assessment received a whirlwind of criticism including Simmons’, who sent out several tweets along with an open letter to Lemon. In response, Lemon welcomed Simmons to face him on the air.
Not being one to back down, Simmons took the challenge and did the interview with Lemon to settle the score once and for all.
He began by explaining his strong reaction to Lemon’s commentary.
“Sometimes, if a black person that’s revered in the community that says something that’s — conservative, ” he explained, “and I think is part of a mindset that is hurtful to the community, people will say the problem with the black community — kids have their ass crack showing. The problem with the black community is they need education opportunities and need job opportunities. These realities are the ones we immediately to bring up and we are talking about uplifting our children.”
Lemon countered by asking “When you want to improve something, where does the first place — where is the first place you look?”
“Here,” Simmons said. “I look inside. When i want to improve — here is what I learned…”
“No. this is too good,” Lemon interrupted. “Why didn’t you — why didn’t you write a letter that said — I understand what Don Lemon was saying? We need to take personal responsibility.”
“I should have said that first,” Simmons conceded, but added “You have to say things in a way they go in instead of bounce off. Personal responsibility, I wouldn’t include the cultural expression so much.”
Simmons then told Lemon that “The greatest course of the destruction of the fabric of black community has been the prison industrial complex,” and explained the cycle of incarceration and poverty that results from it. He also cited the “lack of education opportunity.”
“If we go (to) school, and there’s no books and — teachers aren’t teaching, and the students are in a kind of situation where they don’t even have a gym class, they don’t have an art class,” he continued. “Without art, there is no way — you have to — exercise the creative muscles. That’s why we raise millions of dollar for the arts. ”
“Don’t mistake my passion for not — that I don’t like hip-hop,” Lemon objected. “I think it is an art. I think people like Jay-Z and Kanye West are great artists. Kids are dying every single minute and it is because, as you said, we had the responsibility or there are people being educated in prison culture. I think that helps perpetuate that education in prison culture. And I don’t understand why you can’t see that.”
Simmons defended hip-hop’s raw depictions of reality as essential to the form. “I think each individual artist has a responsibility to say what’s on their hearts. And some of it is not pretty. So I think that there are reflections of our reality and some cases, sad reality.”
Lemon asked how rap and hip-hop can be better, and Simmons replied, “Each individual can be better, but as an overall culture, it has to express our sad reality.”
They concluded by promising an ongoing conversation, and Simmons told Lemon “What you’ve been doing is giving what you can, and your intentions are good, and I respect you for it.”
Watch the full interview above.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
1 of 31
2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
2 of 31
3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
3 of 31
4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
4 of 31
5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
5 of 31
6 of 31
7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
7 of 31
8 of 31
9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
9 of 31
10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
10 of 31
11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
11 of 31
12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
12 of 31
13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
13 of 31
14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
14 of 31
15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
15 of 31
16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
16 of 31
17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
17 of 31
18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
18 of 31
19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
19 of 31
20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
20 of 31
21. Bae #retailtherapy
21 of 31
22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
22 of 31
23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
23 of 31
24. Diggy Simmons
24 of 31
25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
25 of 31
26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
26 of 31
27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
27 of 31
28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
28 of 31
29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
29 of 31
30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
30 of 31
31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
31 of 31