July 10, 2017

"If I didn’t have to be on TV, I would never cut my hair. I would never comb it. I would just have a big Afro."

"But because I am, I keep it short, and I’ve had a similar haircut for the longest time. I have a guy I go to in Harlem, I have a guy on the East Side, I have a guy in Times Square and I have a guy who can come to the studio."

Says CNN anchor Don Lemon, the subject of a NYT article "Don Lemon on How to Look Camera-Ready."

I'm resisting writing CNN is racist, but wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him? There's some rule against black men wearing an Afro if they're on TV?! It's one thing to say that a male TV talking head must wear a suit and tie, quite another to have a race-specific standard that is so limiting.

62 comments:

Gahrie said...

I'm betting this "restriction" is self imposed.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

There is nothing race specific about the standard.

White guys wouldn't be allowed to sport a big Afro either.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Seriously though, a white news anchor would not just be able to let their hair grow long. They need to look professional and conservative. To help hide the fact that they act neither professional nor conservative.

AJ Lynch said...

Is a triple digit IQ an absolute requirement to be a talking head or a journalist? Apparently not.

Bob R said...

All anchors seem conservatively and expensively groomed, but I think there is more leeway for white guys on camera than there is for black guys. Are there black equivalents of Barry Melrose and John Kruck? (The Mullet seems to be the best white parallel to the messy Afro.) I can't think of any.

vicari valdez said...

i'm going to straight out say that cnn is being racist in this case, but unfortunately they're not alone. this is the way most of the 'professional class' think.

GRW3 said...

I think white guys would be more likely to have long ZZ Top type beards, long flowing God Hair like lots of musicians.

David Begley said...

Dear Don: You don't need to be on TV at all.

brylun said...

CNN, and other networks, have probably poll-tested various "looks" and made "recommendations" based on poll outcomes.

Bay Area Guy said...

This is CNN?

Kevin said...

Clarence Thomas should grow out a 'fro, just to take leftist hatred of him to Trumpian levels.

exhelodrvr1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
exhelodrvr1 said...

There aren't any male anchors with man-buns or pony tails or long hair, are there? Or significant, visible tattoos or body piercings? This doesn't seem racist as much as a desire for a more traditional look in the on-air staff.

walter said...

"wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him?"
--
Wow..because television is a visual medium and it doesn't "suit" it to have a "news" person with the distracting equivalent of hippy hair. They also won't allow him to wear a nose ring.

traditionalguy said...

Maybe it's that the long straggly head and facial hair is identified with Marijuana use...or was that the men in shorts?

Kevin said...

They also won't allow him to wear a nose ring.

I'm sure his nipples are pierced under his shirt and tie as an act of silent rebellion. It's a reminder to himself that nobody "owns" Don Lemmon.

I'm also sure he talks about himself in the third person when he's certain no one else can hear.

Lucien said...

Don't you still have to comb and afro, though? Or is the whole idea that you just stick the comb in your hair and walk around with it?

n.n said...

It's a global standard, now. Falsely or not, people associate a manicured appearance with intelligence, success, and high status.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

It's also likely why men in shorts have less appeal to the opposite sex.

n.n said...

Not [class] diversity.

SDaly said...

This post is the exception to the rule that morning blogging is better.

Mark Daniels said...

Hmm. I doubt that CNN would like Anderson Cooper or Wolf Blitzer sporting Aerosmith hairstyling either.

Black or white, lots of professional people--from news anchors to law professors, from preachers to MDs--tend to wear their hair in ways that will be acceptable to the majority of people with whom they deal. When you have a professional service to deliver, you don't want your hair to get in the way; you have more important things to address.

This is an absurd post.

Rae said...

CNN Faces Growing Racial Discrimination Lawsuit
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr-esq/cnn-faces-growing-racial-discrimination-lawsuit-991036

It would be refreshing to see an anchor with a big Afro.

AlbertAnonymous said...

More NYT garbage. Even the picture... anyone here believe he irons his own shirts?

Sebastian said...

@Kevin: "Clarence Thomas should grow out a 'fro, just to take leftist hatred of him to Trumpian levels." And call it his personal homage to Frederick Douglass.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

I read the linked article. Lemon is reported as saying that were he not on TV he would have an Afro. There is no indication that this was a condition laid on by his employer.

Lemon is reported as saying that through high school the students wore school uniforms. Likely the schools emphasized the importance of personal appearance generally - including hair - to social acceptance.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Ignorance is Bliss: "There is nothing race specific about the standard."

My first thought also. Don't know much about hair maintenance, but I'm thinking the Art Garfunkel look is not low maintenance - regardless of "race."

Robert Cook said...

One does not see white news anchors appearing on tv with hair down to their shoulders. Whether stated explicitly or not, I'm guessing it's assumed by the newscasters that they must abide by standard office attire and grooming standards when appearing before the camera.

Michael K said...

His head is already big enough,

Witness said...

I mean, maybe there is some race thing here, but I don't understand why our hostess jumped to that without even considering the possibility that it's a race-neutral hair length policy...

Known Unknown said...

I don't believe a god damned thing Don Lemon says.

Tommy Duncan said...

Althouse said:

"I'm resisting writing CNN is racist, but wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him?"

Perhaps there is a condition of employment that he present himself in a manner such that he can be taken seriously?

damikesc said...

Most guys who wear afros tend to look silly. Would be even harder to take him seriously.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

I don't know. Cornel West had an Afro the last time I saw him, and he's a certified Public Intellectual! from Princeton!, which seems serious enough.

n.n said...

Einstein had a Jafro, or perhaps a Cafro. It's impossible to keep up with progressive standards of style and [class] diversity.

RichardJohnson said...

I'm resisting writing CNN is racist, but wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him? There's some rule against black men wearing an Afro if they're on TV?!

I would not be surprised that were I to interview for a CNN broadcasting job, one reason for my not getting it would be that my hair is longer than average. Broadcasters are supposed to have a mainstream appearance, which would rule out longer hair on males, be they black or whitel

walter said...

Of course, Lemon stating this could easily be a form of virtue signalling.

Earnest Prole said...

“. . . real Afros, not the ones that have been shaped and trimmed like a topiary hedge and sprayed until they have a sheen like acrylic wall-to-wall—but like funky, natural, scraggly . . . wild . . . These are no civil-rights Negroes wearing gray suits three sizes too big . . . these are real men!"

Char Char Binks said...

My bos bees rayciss.

wildswan said...

Point is Lemon said he wanted to wear an Afro. Others have kept their wishes secret though we saw while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State how she would really like to do her hair - the scraggy-with-bandanna look. Maybe Wolfe Blitzer wants to grow out his beard like an Amish man. It's a secret. Maybe while they are talking we could mentally sketch in the way they really want to look. But then we'd have to listen to them talking. Don't ever listen to CNN - This one secret trick will extend your life until the planet dies.*

*until the planet dies as projected by alarmist fund-raising projections. Subject to revision.

Ann Althouse said...

"Perhaps there is a condition of employment that he present himself in a manner such that he can be taken seriously?"

That's my point about racism. Why is a black man viewed as unprofessional unless he keeps his hair cropped very short. It's not just the "big Afro" that's not seen. It's the smaller Afro or any other style but the one we always saw on President Obama.

It's true that men who are not black also seem to be compelled to wear their hair relatively short, but few are wearing their hair as short as black men always wear their hair, and there is a variety of lengths that are acceptable, and within that variety, the nonblack professional TV newsman can have a distinctive personal style.

And much is made of the "good hair" of local news anchors. There's competition in the hair department. Google it.

walter said...

It's also a bit relative to the norm...the shaved bald look being fairly ubiquitous in black males. "The man" is not forcing that look.

southcentralpa said...

Professor, I think it's not so much that a big natural ('Fro) is restricted by the network, but that not everyone can rock the look and not look ridiculous. A surprisingly large group of folks look like Don King when they grow it out, i.e., they keep it clipped for the same reason that people don't go on the air looking like the guy from Flock of Seagulls (or Siouxsie Sioux). Also, consistency: Yvette Nicole Brown, the woman who played Shirley on Community, used to wear a wig because she wouldn't look the same every day with her hair out that big, and most people TV have "A look" that's part of their image.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Fellow Althauskameraden: Consider the possibility that our Hostess is trolling us. I have noticed some recent Althouse opinions at odds with either her usual social/political position or with her lawyerly analytical skills. This goes back a few days, shortly after the start of the CNN mockery,

Earnest Prole said...

Consider the possibility that our Hostess is trolling us. . . . This goes back a few days . . .

I take it you're new around here.

Big Mike said...

I'm resisting writing CNN is racist, but wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him?

I dunno. Maybe because more people might notice that what he spouts is racially-tinged nonsense?

walter said...

Though he appeared to take it in stride, maybe part of this rang his "authenticity" bell.
"Some of America's finest black journalists are here tonight. Don Lemon's here, too. Alleged journalist Don Lemon, everybody!"

SDaly said...

Are big 'fros common among the professional class of men in Africa. Generally, my mental image of actual black African men is of shaved heads or closely cropped hair.

Seeing Red said...


Perhaps there is a condition of employment that he present himself in a manner such that he can be taken seriously?


The Serious Horse officially left CNN's barn on 11/9/16. There's no going back now.


Charlie said...

Regardless of his hair length, Don Lemon is an idiot. He's awful and his show is awful.

Bad Lieutenant said...

What is right out of course for Don Lemon is conking. He could not possibly use any sort of product like say Giancarlo Esposito. He wouldn't seem authentic.

Oh, but he could get Jheri curls or corn rows or nappy dreadlocks...but no straightening, ever.

Michael said...

Althouse wrote:"I'm resisting writing CNN is racist, but wow, why can't Don Lemon wear his hair in the style that suits him?"
Because no one in business working for others can do whatever "suits" them. As to the afro/non-afro I think it is a matter of current style. Large afros are just not in style at the moment. If they were then Don Lemon would be able to wear his hair like that and CNN and its competitors would allow it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Robert Cook,

One does not see white news anchors appearing on tv with hair down to their shoulders.

Sure one does. All the time. It's just that they're all female. Though can one or more MTF transsexuals be far behind?

Seeing Red said...

Maybe I should have said Serious Hair?

Stick clown wigs on them all. Would anyone know the difference?

Francisco D said...

In an earlier career as a business psychologist, I struggled with the change to casual office wear. It was simpler to wear a Brooks Brothers suit, button down and tie. However some clients were offended with that type of dress.

If I was going downtown (Chicago) or to a business that managed other people's money, a suit was imperative to show one's seriousness of purpose. In manufacturing settings, the rule of thumb was to dress one level above your client. No beards, of course. (When I changed to clinical, the first thing I did was grow back my beard).

TV hosts also have to show their seriousness of purpose by how they dress and groom. I don't think the rules are any different for different races. Women do have more leeway. A woman can look very serious in a red sport coat. A guy? Not so much.

Trumpit said...

Regardless of his hair length, Don Lemon is brilliant. He's wonderful and his show is wonderful.

I didn't know what Afro puffs were until I listened to The Lady of Rage sing this rap song, Afro Puffs, in the 90's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlQVCxCSR-8

Afro puffs can make a girl look like Minnie Mouse. See: https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=afro+puffs&FORM=HDRSC2

Management might object to having an Afro-mouse read the news, but I think that is just what the news needs for a refreshing change.

JaimeRoberto said...

Sounds like Overnight Legend Don Lemon has lots of guys.

Kirk Parker said...

I hereby register my objection to the term 'Afro' itself on anthropological/linguistic grounds. Real Africans -- rural people on that continent -- do NOT wear their hair in 'Afros'. I lived there, and have many, many pictures to prove this.

Freeman Hunt said...

The afro is underappreciated. It is an excellent hairstyle, highly adaptable to balancing out a person's features since you can make it shorter or longer wherever best for the individual face. Plus, it highlights the beauty of the hair.

Freeman Hunt said...

Look, for an example of a professional style in a longer length, at Thomas Sowell's hair. It looks great.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or look at pictures of Obama when he was younger and had his hair a little longer, especially when he had it longest on top. Very handsome.