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Left-wing CNN political commentator and host Don Lemon was caught with a blackface Mammy cookie jar, and this has inspired a debate over whether it’s inappropriate and potentially racist for him to own such a divisive object.
Lemon was caught with the Mammy cookie jar while broadcasting from his home on New Year’s Eve alongside fellow left-wing CNN commentator Brooke Baldwin.
A screenshot from the broadcast was posted by a random Twitter user named “Dom” and quickly went viral, attracting even the attention of Fox News’ Todd Starnes.
Wait a minute Don Lemon what is this?? pic.twitter.com/d4nwgA0SLw
— Domˣ⁴ (@BeykandaForever) January 1, 2021
Oh, you mean that veggie in front of the black face cookie jar? That’s a green bell pepper. https://t.co/oQWwBzavUU
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) January 1, 2021
In case the photo has been removed, an archived copy remains here.
What “this” is, is a mammy cookie jar, and according to the rules of contemporary PC culture, mammy cookies jars are a giant no-no.
“The mammy stereotype portrays black women as obedient maids to white families. Like blackface, racist objects such as mammy jars perpetuate deep-rooted stereotypes about African-Americans by portraying them as docile, dumb and animated,” The New York Times notes.
“More than a century after the heyday of minstrel shows and the peak production of racist objects, some Americans are still learning about how these cultural products — viewed as forms of entertainment and decorations during the Jim Crow era — dehumanize black people.”
It’s why Aunt Jemima chose to rid itself of Aunt Jemima — because the beloved character (based on a real woman) bore too much resemblance to the mammy stereotype.
So stupid! Aunt Jemima is lovable & positive. Is she really a stereotype or is she a very real representation for her time?☕️🇺🇸 R.I.P. Aunt Jemima – Quaker announces 130-yr-old character’s demise in quest ‘toward racial equality’ https://t.co/KXJtBo3gt0 via @BIZPACReview
— CoffyLady☕️ (@CoffyLady) June 17, 2020
It’s also why, when Grace Coddington, the former creative director at Vogue magazine, was caught last year with a Mammy cookie jar of her own — also in her kitchen, at that — critics pounced:
On her kitchen shelf she has a collection of racist Mammy figurines
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 8, 2019
The question now is whether Lemon deserves the same scrutiny and criticism. It seems “Dom” believes so, and he’s not alone.
— Aaron 🐻👑 (@FourWingsGaming) January 1, 2021
— Park (@Parkybus) January 1, 2021
Y’all gonna let Don Lemon write a book about race and he has mammy jar in his house on display 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬
— Laurelizabeth (@Laurelizabeth) January 1, 2021
Lemon has spent years ranting and raving about race. Take for instance the rant that ensued in 2018 after Megyn Kelly argued that children dressing up in blackface is OK.
“When I was a kid, that was OK, so long as you were dressing up in character,” she said on her since-cancelled NBC talk show, “The Megyn Kelly Today Show.”
Lemon responded by accusing her of boasting so-called “privilege.”
“There were all white people on that panel. There were no African- Americans, no people of color there to say, hey, Megyn, not cool. I wonder how much diversity she has on her staff, I don’t know, I’m not there. But I would imagine there’s not a lot because people would have informed her,” he said.
“This is what people of the larger culture don’t understand about racism and about privilege. I don’t know of many black people who are trying to be white people for Halloween or dressing up as white people but I know a lot of people who do it for black people.”
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) October 24, 2018
Despite his anger over the notion of children wearing a blackface-containing costume for Halloween, he apparently sees nothing wrong with owning a Mammy cookie jar.
Nor do his supporters.
A collectors item that used to be in white folks homes but black folks have purchased. I’d rather see it in his house than a Caucasian’s house.
— Lomiejoy (@lomiejoy) January 1, 2021
Oprah has talked about her collection of Jim Crow era items. It’s like taking ownership of n word. Chill.
— Ann-Marie Poli (@annmariepoli) January 1, 2021
They collect them as a reminder of the racist past their family survived. It has deep meaning.
— ✨🌊 ADRIENNE ✨🌊✨ (@AquafarE) January 1, 2021
Oh I’m no fan of Don Lemon. But I totally get this. Black people want to take back those symbols and make them their own. If you imagine a spirit in that little figurine, they are rescuing that spirit from its oppressor.This is not hard to understand.
— Dany (@danapainter) January 2, 2021
I don’t see a problem no matter who owns it. It’s a happy black dude with delicious cookies inside. 🍪 people need to get over constantly being offended. And bring back Aunt Jemima Syrup its good and she’s awesome.
— Gary (@BoneFish2112) January 1, 2021
Is Lemon practicing hypocrisy and double standards, or just embracing his history?
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