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  /  News   /  Don Lemon & April Ryan Have Tense Debate Over Sen. Kamala Harris

Don Lemon & April Ryan Have Tense Debate Over Sen. Kamala Harris

CNN host Don Lemon and White House correspondent April Ryan recently engaged in an intense debate regarding presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris and her ancestry.

There’s been much discussion over Harris’ heritage since she announced her candidacy. During a visit to The Breakfast Club, Harris attempted to dismiss reports that she is not African-American, saying it’s the same rhetoric that was once used against Barack Obama to divide the country. Harris’ mother is an immigrant from India and her father immigrated from Jamaica. The senator was born in Oakland, California.

After viewing a clip from the interview, Ryan questioned why the “blackness” of mixed-race candidates is always in question. Lemon then cuts her off, believing she missed the point.

“No, no, no, no, no, I think you’re not hearing what people are saying. The people that are saying, ‘is she Black enough,’ that’s bull, that’s BS. But to want that distinction, to say, ‘is she African-American or is she Black,’ or whatever, there is nothing wrong with that! There’s a difference between being African-American and being Black.”

Ryan responds by reiterating that Harris is a “Black woman,” for sure, which Lemon doesn’t dispute.

“I agree with that, but is she African-American? There is a difference, and there’s nothing wrong with that. No one’s trying to take anything away from her. I think you’re falling into the trap of that.”

He went on, “All she had to do was say, ‘I am Black, but I’m not African-American.’”

Ryan then pointed out that slaves from Africa were taken to the Caribbean, as well as the states, to which Lemon responds, “Jamaica’s not America. Jamaica did not come out of Jim Crow.”

As the conversation continues, Lemon suggests that Harris is not an American descendant of slavery, and that Ryan’s argument misses the overall point of those questioning Harris’ cultural identity. See the discussion below.

Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.