Charlamagne

On Charlamagne Tha God’s Problematic Infatuation with Tomi Lahren

The radio host caught flack on social media for imploring Black women to be more like the controversial Conservative pundit

by Britni Danielle, December 7, 2016

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Radio presenter Charlamagne tha God isn’t new to making controversial statements. The Breakfast Club host regularly puts his guests on blast, crowns misbehaving celebs “Donkey of the Day,” and seems to get a kick out of riling Black Twitter almost daily. And while he’s no stranger to being called out for his own problematic statements, Charlamagne set Twitter ablaze Tuesday evening after giving Tomi Lahren, a conservative pundit who spews racist views, props while also wondering why more women of color weren’t learning from her example.

Here’s the thing. There are multiple women of color who are building their own platforms and growing their audiences—two of whom, Crissles and Franchesca Ramsey, appear on a MTV series just like Charlamagne. Still, when called out for getting cozy with Lahren—who equated the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK— Charlamagne said he met with her so that he could change her mind.

“Do you want diplomacy or do you want division? I’m talking to Tomi because I care about the rhetoric that comes out of her mouth, because she has influence,” he explained on the Breakfast Club. “The narrative she paints about Black Lives Matter is dangerous. The same way people can hit her up on social media and tell her how wrong she is, I can meet with her [in person] and tell her the same things. I don’t like talking about people. I like talking to them.”

If what he says about trying to change Lahren’s mind is true, Charlamagne’s aim may be admirable, albeit strange. After all, as LaSha wrote, “Before we go about the business of uniting, we must first make it clear that the right of Black people to be completely liberated from white supremacy is not a negotiation.” Diplomancy, when it comes to conversations with hate-mongers, can’t be about “hearing both sides” or “seeing where people are coming from.” Lahren’s point of view is crystal clear.

I don’t subscribe to giving racists the benefit of the doubt, but if Charlamagne believes he can change Lahren’s mind, so be it. However, what he’s not going do, at least on my watch, is praise the controversial pundit while simultaneously ignoring—and erasing—the efforts of Black women who continue to put in work without receiving a proportionate amount props.

To challenge Black and Hispanic women to create their own platforms ignores the women who work for established Black media outlets like EBONY, JET, Essence, and the Root, or startups like XO Nicole, This Week in Blackness, and Blavity, which was co-founded Morgan DeBaun. With one uninformed tweet, Charlamagne also overlooked the work of writers, content creators, and media personalities like best selling author and blogger Luvvie Ajayi, writer and activist Janet Mock, vlogger Kat Blaque, comedian and writer Jessica Williams and Another Round’s Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton. And we won’t even get into the Black women who founded the Black Lives Matter movement, or create other social change.

You see, Black women been building platforms and speaking out on issues that affect our community, often to little fanfare. And to compare the self-made (and often self-funded), grassroots efforts of sisters across the web, to a white woman who’s backed by Glenn Beck, one of the most influential voices in Conservative media, ignores the way race plays into Black women’s ability to gain access to spaces, as Ramsey broke down so eloquently on Twitter.

Instead of wishing Black women would create a platform to build a massive audience akin to Lahren’s, Charlamagne could do a little research and use his platform (or resources) to help increase the visibility of those sisters who’ve been toiling in the margins, or hook them up with someone else who can. But as my mother always says, “That’s too much like right.” So instead of being part of the change he claims to want to see (though he did apparently name himself “Donkey of the Day” for his comments), Charlamagne’s exercising his Twitter fingers to do what he does best—talk sh-t.

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