Which Lemon Is It? Are We ‘Healing’ on Race Under Biden? Or Is It ‘All-Out War’?

Don Lemon joined CNN Newsroom hosts Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow on Tuesday morning to promote his newly released book This is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism. When asked if he is optimistic about the state of race relations in America, Lemon said that he was, because Joe Biden won in November.

Then on his own show Tuesday night, Lemon was warning of a “collision course” on race, an “all-out war” over the filibuster. Republicans want to take black votes away! Which Lemon should we believe? 

On Newsroom, Harlow led Lemon by reading from the book. “Here’s the first line: ‘Today I heard a man, a dying man cry out to his momma and I wept for the world that will soon belong to you.’ It’s about George Floyd, calling out for his mother with his last breaths. You say you wrote it to heal America. And that indicates to me that you’re hopeful we can be healed.” 

Lemon replied by saying that the 51-47 win for Biden equals healing: “I am hopeful that we can be healed and I point to the election of November. That there are more people on the side of continuing to lean and fight for the more perfect union rather than taking us back to an era where people of color and marginalized people and women did not have equal rights and equal access under the law.”

He further added, “And also, especially in this time when voting rights are on verge of being restricted in a number of states around the country, so. But I’m still hopeful that right thinking, not the right as in politically right, but people who have the right thoughts and the right emotions and who want good things that we’ll continue on that side.”

Sciutto then shifted the conversation and asked about, “People from different camps and bubbles and sadly different races talking less. But I wonder, I mean, that’s the conventional wisdom, I wonder in writing this, did you find the bridges, particularly in the wake of George Floyd, are growing right rather than falling down?”

Lemon replied that initially they were, because of the pandemic, but not any more. “But as time has gone on, I heard people say, ‘yeah, this is all really heavy. This all this race stuff, but can I just go back to being snarky on Instagram’ and so on and so forth?”

He accused people of not wanting “to do the work” the work to combat racism because “They want something that is more practical or easier, but it’s not easy. This requires doing the work and relationships that’s why I say what I talk to my friends about racism, ‘cause we need to have friends that don’t look like us. And that will start the healing.”

Lemon might need to take his own advice about relationships seriously before lecturing anybody else because his strategy is usually to talk at people rather than with them. 

This segment was sponsored by Tylenol.

Here is a transcript for the March 16 show:

CNN

CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto

10:57 AM ET

POPPY HARLOW: Look, Don, you write this book by opening with a letter to your nephew just like James Baldwin did with a letter his nephew in his book The Fire Next Time. And here’s the first line: “Today I heard a man, a dying man cry out to his momma and I wept for the world that will soon belong to you.” It’s about George Floyd calling out for his mother with his last breaths. You say you wrote it to heal America. And that indicates to me that you’re hopeful we can be healed. 

DON LEMON: I am hopeful that we can be healed and I point to the election of November. That there are more people on the side of continuing to lean and fight for the more perfect union rather than taking us back to an era where people of color and marginalized people and women did not have equal rights and equal access under the law. And also, especially in this time when voting rights are on verge of being restricted in a number of states around the country, so. But I’m still hopeful that right thinking, not the right as in politically right, but people who have the right thoughts and the right emotions and who want good things that we’ll continue on that side. 

JIM SCIUTTO: You know, it’s right in the subtitle, right? How you talk about race. I wonder, you know, the sad phenomenon and we’ve talked about this, you talk about it on the air all the time, of folks talking less, right? People from different camps and bubbles and sadly different races talking less. But I wonder, I mean, that’s the conventional wisdom, I wonder in writing this, did you find the bridges, particularly in the wake of George Floyd, are growing right rather than falling down? 

LEMON: Well, I found that in the beginning they were, because listen, we were all vulnerable we were in the middle of quarantine in the middle of a deadly pandemic. We didn’t know which way the world was going to go. We didn’t know if we were going to have a job or if we were going to see our friends or loved ones. So people were much more open. The hearts were much more open. But as time has gone on, I heard people say, “yeah, this is all really heavy. This all this race stuff, but can I just go back to being snarky on Instagram” and so on and so forth? And also, people who say well what can I do? Then when you tell them what to do, they don’t want to do the work, right? They want something that is more practical or easier, but it’s not easy. This requires doing the work and relationships that’s why I say what I talk to my friends about racism, ‘cause we need to have friends that don’t look like us. And that will start the healing. 

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