Our Inspirational quote this week is by Don Lemon. It is not a single sentence or phrase. But rather Don’s “open letter” response to Russell Simmons.
Simmons and others criticized Lemon for a broadcast during which Lemon shared his “5 points” on self-emporwerment and self-responsibility, the backdrop of which was the murder of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict. Mr. Lemon invited Simmons to come on CNN several times to discuss the matter where Mr. Simons initially declined resulting in Lemon’s open letter. Russell Simmons eventually accepted the offer and appeared where they had a face to face discussion.
We have quoted Simmon’s uplifting messages many times (view QUOTE archives). We are fans of Russell Simons. We were surprised by the nature of his attack of Lemon. We thought the way Lemon approached the conflict and what he said were in and of themselves lessons in who we should want to and need to be. Communication is the key.
Don Lemon’s “An open letter response to Russell Simons.”
“Russell, I’m glad you wrote the letter. Honestly I really am. Initially though I wasn’t even going to respond to your letter, not because I think you completely missed the point, not because, like many of the other critics I thought you were just using the occasion as a promotion for one of your businesses, your Web site, but I wasn’t going to address it because, quite honestly, it was hard to take you and it seriously after you called me derogatory names like slave on Twitter. That accomplishes nothing especially when lives are at stake.
That said, I’m going to respond and I’m going to take the high road at the same time by not calling you names and simply addressing your points. And just to be clear before I start here I have asked you on this program on CNN several times to discuss the issues I have addressed. I have invited you again tonight but you declined again. That is fine. But don’t throw stones and hide your hand.
Russell Simmons, we are in a crisis right now and you of all people need to understand what I’m saying and understand what you’re doing. Because of what you do and who you are, you have much more influence on young people of all races than I do.
So, first. You say I sound like conservative hosts or pulling strings writing, you write this, conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community.
My response is, you should take that up with a conservative or a liberal or someone who is concerned about political affiliation in this particular situation. That does not save lives. It shouldn’t matter if someone is black, white, brown, purple, green, democrat, or Republican. If the truth they speak is saving lives, then no matter their intentions or background, we should listen, attack the problem, not the messenger.
You also write, 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 where belts around their waist bands.
That really makes me question whether you even watch the segment or even wrote the letter yourself because I never blamed anyone for their own demise. I never pinned it on any teenagers, on anybody. Nor did I mention the King’s English. I did, however, mention the “n” word.
You also wrote, young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rocking afros or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s.
Russell, afros came out of the struggle of the after American civil rights movement. The dashiki is a traditional form of African dress.
Sagging, Russell, the hip hop community which you helped established, dropped the G on the word so that spelled backwards the word reads n- i-g-g-a-s. It came from Riker’s island in New York, one of the largest attention centers in the U.S. It was originally called wearing your pants Riker’s style.
When you went in you turned in your belt, your shoe laces, and the only shirt the jail provided was a white double XXL-shirt. Are you equating dressing like a criminal to African pride? Are you saying it is OK to perpetuate the negative stereotype of young, black men as convicts, criminals, prisoners? How does that enhance their lives or society as a whole?
I do give you, Russell Simmons, and some of the hip hop and rap community credit for trying to clean up your act. Some like J. Cole and Kanye West are now rapping about social issues like the prison industrial complex. More of that, please. We welcome that. Everyone does. But you’re not off the hook.
Finally, you write in part, 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. Russell, I really appreciate that, but I don’t want black kids or kids of any race to be just like me. I want them to grow up to be better than me. That’s what my parents wanted for me. And their parents wanted for them. And as we approach the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, we should all realize that it’s what those brave men and women who risked their lives for our freedom and equality wanted for us. They fought for us and generations to come to be better than them, not to be illiterate or deadbeat dads or criminals. We must stop the blame for things that we can change ourselves and, again, as the first African-American president of the United States says, no more excuses.”
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QUOTE: “President Barack Obama – Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was. Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination. And, moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them, and if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.”
*We are happy that eventually they spoke, discussed and shook hands over this matter. Hopefully in the future, though they may disagree, they will both continue to help inspire and educate people in their own ways.
Correction; A previous version of this post stated that Lemon’s 5 points pertained to racism. They instead pertain to self-emporwerment and self-responsibility.
Posted in Celebrity, Culture, Education, Fashion, Harlem, New York City, Quote Tagged with: @HarlemHCL, Anchor, Barack Obama, CNN, CNN Anchor, community, Don Lemon, Harlem, Harlem Blogs, HarlemBlogger, HCL, Inspirational Quotes, Kanye West, Russell Simmons, United States
Grubstreet reports that the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network has approached Russell Simmons to launch an initiative to provide healthy food to New Yorkers living in the city’s food deserts. The concept is to mimic Trader Joe’s business model and manufacture and sell it’s own products. The plan calls for opening a food factory and a chain of stores in neighborhoods that include Central Harlem. “We want cool, fun vegetarian stuff,” Simmons told the New York Daily News. “It’s an alternative to eating poison.” He’s about to start raising money through a crowdsourcing campaign on his website.
Posted in Central Harlem, East Harlem, Food, Health & Wellness, North Harlem, South Harlem (SOHA), West Harlem Tagged with: @HarlemHCL, food deserts, Harlem, HarlemCondoLife.com, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, new york city, Russell Simmons, Trader Joe, Vegetarian, your gateway to harlem
By HarlemGal for HarlemCondoLife
The new Target located in Spanish Harlem-and scheduled to officially open on July 25-had their red carpet premiere on Tuesday, July 20 with celebrities, industry insiders and major players from the Harlem community in attendance. Marcus Samuelsson, Thelma Golden, and Albert Maysles all attended and they live right here in Harlem. Que rico!
Psst….if you were not there, no worries. HarlemCondoLife has the chisme on the entire fiesta! Escuchanos! Here is the HCL scoop on Target’s big party July 20 held at East River Plaza, which is at 116th Street and Pleasant Avenue!
- Ok, not only is Tyson Beckford gorgeous on the outside, its internal as well. Tyson took picture after picture with adoring fans for close to an hour. Can we clone him?
- Our very own Harlemite Marcus Samuelsson catched up with friend and fellow Harlemite Albert Maysles during his dish demonstration in the P-Fresh section. They both live in Harlem cause they know we are a super cool community.
- The busiest canine on the planet took time out for pictures. Bullseye the Target dog posed politely for pictures with event revelers. The line was so long it looked like folks waiting in line to enter The Apollo Theater!
- Models Ubah Hassan and Hollis Wakeema posing for fan photos while they compared bathing suit selections from the Target Harlem Designer collections. Samuelsson’s model wife was present as well. Too much beauty and is always constant at Harlem places like Zoma on Frederick Douglass Blvd.
- Isabel and Rubin Toledo having a hard time deciding on which bag from their Target collection to purchase. I love handbags. Need I say more…must get one soon!
- Makeup guru and Target design partner Sonia Kashuk shopping with her family and adding Target Harlem Designer goods and toys to her cart. I buy Kashuk’s perfume and make-up brushes all the time. Now, it will be so much easier to get!
Looking forward to shopping at Target. Want to know what the store looks like inside? Stay tuned.
Posted in Celebrity, Harlem Tagged with: Adrienne Bailon, Albert Maysles, bethenny frankel, Celebrity, Davina Reeves, East River Plaza, Elizabeth Banks, Hollis Wakeema, Jerry Seinfeld, Jessica Seinfeld, Joanna Garcia, Katrina Bowden, Kelly Rowland, marcus samuelsson, Marsha Thomason, Michelle Trachtenberg, Reverend Run, Rhonda Ross, Ruben and Isabel Toledo, Russell Simmons, Selita Ebanks, Sonia Kashuk, Stephen Burrows, Target, Thelma Golden, Tracee Ellis Ross, Tracy Reese, Tyson Beckford, Ubah Hassan