A Friday opinion piece published on Dan Abrams’ Mediaite website quickly became the subject of online mockery for describing CNN host Don Lemon as “openly Black.”
The piece, written by Tommy Christopher and titled “Don Lemon’s Remarks About Trump Voters and The Klan and Nazis Are a Slap in the Face to 74 Million Americans,” praised Lemon for saying that Trump supporters were “on the same side” as Nazis, Klansmen and other “alt-right” supporters, despite a headline that appeared as if Christopher was criticizing Lemon.
Lemon himself shared the Mediaite piece on Twitter without commentary, but other journalists and Twitter users quickly zeroed in on Christopher’s repeated use of the phrase “openly Black” to describe Lemon and soon piled on with the confused responses — and jokes.
“What is ‘openly black’ …??” Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott tweeted.
“Good for Don Lemon for being ‘openly Black.’ I still haven’t decided when to tell my parents,” writer and social media professional Ashley Smalls tweeted.
“This is hard for me to say, but I’m sick and tired of shutting out a huge part of my life. Today I am announcing that I am openly Black. These years of silence and reflection have made me stronger and taught me that acceptance must come from within,” Manny Fidel, a columnist and editor for Business Insider, joked.
In a statement sent to TheWrap, Mediaite’s founding editor Colby Hall said that the phrase was meant to be “satirical” and noted that Lemon had shown his support for the piece.
“The phrase ‘openly Black’ was satirical, and was explained later in the piece. Tommy Christopher argued that Don Lemon’s perspective as a Black man gives weight to his perspective on this issue. The piece was written in support of Don Lemon, who I should note posted it on Twitter approvingly,” Hall said.
(It should be noted that Lemon has also been publicly gay since coming out in his 2011 memoir “Transparent.”)
A representative for CNN did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Take a look at more of the responses below.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) January 15, 2021
I have an announcement to make today…
I, too, am “Openly Black” pic.twitter.com/0HNQMuqQHm
— Erin Ashley Simon (@erinasimon) January 15, 2021
I'm gonna put "Openly Black" in my social media profiles lol.
— Karen "Openly Black" Attiah (@KarenAttiah) January 15, 2021
How are all my openly Black people doing today pic.twitter.com/KyMFo99Rxx
— Fiona Applebum says block Shaun King! (@WrittenByHanna) January 15, 2021
Kahlief "Openly Black" Adams https://t.co/Fd3o1S8Pkt
— Kahlief “Openly Black” Adams (@Kahjahkins) January 15, 2021
please stop asking me if i am "openly black." even if i was, coming out is a personal process and shouldn't be rushed.
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) January 15, 2021
I am here as an ally for my Black friends, those who happen to be Openly Black & those who are clandestinely Black, intermittently Black, occasionally Black, persistently Black, and notoriously Black.
Your consistently Brown friend who happens to be openly Muslim.
— Wajahat "Openly Brown" Ali (@WajahatAli) January 15, 2021
I, too, am a homosexual man in journalism who is also openly black, and I, for one, am glad to be represented.
— Lil Uzi Hurt 🥺 (@lostblackboy) January 15, 2021
— Ashley C. Ford (@iSmashFizzle) January 15, 2021
We're really just openly black out here
— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) January 15, 2021
Can we get a Openly Black History Month?
— Phillip “Openly Black” Henry (@MajorPhilebrity) January 15, 2021