CNN’s Don Lemon: ‘Black Community Must Take Serious Look at Mental Health’ Issues


In an audio commentary for Black America Web, CNN anchor Don Lemon urged the black community to take a serious look at mental health issues in the wake of Monday’s Washington Navy Yard attack perpetrated by a black male who allegedly suffered from mental illness.

“Immediately after the FBI identified the suspect in yesterday’s shooting in the Navy Yard in D.C. as Aaron Alexis, a young black man,” Lemon began, “some on the political right jumped on the bandwagon, well, at least on the Internet; online, on Twitter, on Facebook specifically, and began to take glee, not only in the fact that the shooter was black, but that they could make a comparison to the President of the United States. A funny comparison, a snarky comparison.”

Lemon was referring to the meme that appeared on the web, which mockingly stated: “If [the president] had a son, he’d look like Aaron Alexis”

But, he continued, “[H]ere’s the truth: Most of the mass shootings in workplaces, in schools, in malls, etc., are committed by white men, in overall numbers and in percentages.”

However, Lemon added, “men of color are not immune.” In addition to Aaron Alexis, Lemon cited former police officer Christopher Dorner’s rampage earlier this year as examples of murderous incidents that “will probably increase if we don’t bring something into the light and discuss it.” The conversation needed, the CNN host said, “is mental health among black people, or the converse, which is mental illness, which are taboo subjects in our community.”

Lemon explains how when he dealt with depression years ago, his own mother discouraged him from seeing a therapist and instead suggested he see a preacher. “It took time for even the person who gave birth to me to realize that there are certain things that you cannot pray away,” he said.

“Why would we think mental or psychological issues can be prayed or willed away?” Lemon asked. “A sick mind is no different than a sick body. Would you pray away a broken arm? Would you pray away bad eyesight? Would you pray away cancer, leukemia or diabetes? No. You would get it treated by the proper physician while praying at the same time.”

He further advanced his plea to the black community by citing statistics:

According to the Center for Disease Control, from 1980 to 2012 the suicide rate for black males doubled becoming the third leading cause of death for black men between the ages of 15 and 24. Suicide, depression and other mental illnesses are real in our communities; maybe more so than other communities because of institutional racism, because of overwhelming unemployment and poverty. We can no longer look at these issues as taboo and something we can power through with God because we’re soldiers. Even soldiers have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ultimately, he concluded, “If we don’t wake up to these realities, that we cannot pray it away, the next time we see a crime on the news, especially a mass shooting, the first question you might ask yourself: ‘Is it the usual one? Oh, no, are they black?’ You know you all do it; ‘I hope they’re not black.’ It might be the same one that the haters are posing on the Internet. If Obama had a son would he look like the killer?

Listen to the commentary below, via BlackAmericaWeb:

[image via CNN/BlackAmericaWeb]

— —
>> Follow Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) on Twitter

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: