News and Commentary

‘You Know I’m Black On The Inside’: Social Media Batters Cuomo For ‘Cultural Appropriation’

"Black is not a costume. ... It's f***ing offensive."
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 02: Television journalist Chris Cuomo is seen arriving at 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert' at the Ed Sullivan Theater on May 2, 2019 in New York City.
Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

On Friday, during the handoff from his own show to CNN host Don Lemon, CNN’s Chris Cuomo sang lyrics from the 1970s TV show “Good Times,” prompting Lemon to ask him how he knew the words to the show about a black family living in a public housing project in Chicago. Cuomo replied, “You know I’m black on the inside,” triggering harsh criticism, including from a black magazine managing editor who fired that Cuomo’s comment was “f***ing offensive. Black is not a costume.”

Cuomo sang, “Just lookin’ out of the window, watchin’ the asphalt grow, thinkin’ how it all looks hand-me down.”

Lemon responded, “How do you know the words to ‘Good Times?’”

“You know I’m black on the inside,” quipped Cuomo.

Sister2Sister magazine managing editor Aisha Staggers blasted Cuomo on Twitter, writing:

Black is not a costume. I don’t get to be white when I don’t feel like not dealing with racism or racist police or just regular bullshit Black people deal with. I can’t even hide at home because I can be killed there in my bed, so understand, there was nothing silly about this. … It’s f***ing offensive. Black isn’t something you can just say you feel you are inside without having to deal with the racism that comes with being physically Black on the outside. This is cultural appropriation.

Another response: “Are the Cuomo brothers competing for S***tiest Cuomo rn?”

A third: “Chris Cuomo just said to Don Lemon OUT LOUD on Wolf Blitzer’s CNN ‘You know I’m Black on the inside,’ and we had to turn off the television because I’m not here for that nonsense. @CNN needs to have some sensitivity training with their on-air personalities.”

In 2015, as Newsbusters reported, discussing the case of Rachel Dolezal with CNN’s Alyson Camerota, who described Dolezal’s story as “mind-blowing” and her conversation with NBC Today as “fascinating,” Cuomo stated, “Fascinating and interesting are other words for bizarre and strange.”

Partial transcript of the exchange among Cuomo, Camerota and CNN’s Michaela Pereira:

Camerota: What a fascinating conversation! I mean, this is mind-blowing; and, of course, provocative stuff. Isn’t it interesting, Chris – who’s giving me the hairy eyeball-

Cuomo: Yeah-

Camerota: To live in a time when people are – are identifying themselves – I think of Bruce Jenner with transgendered issues – and now, her with transracial issues, as she calls them-

Pereira: I think they’re very different-

Camerota: I mean – but listen: it’s – they – they identify themselves as different than as we see them. That’s an interesting proposition.

Pereira: This is the first time that we’ve heard her say that, because I don’t know that to be true. I’d like to know more about that – because, to a lot of people, it’s as though she’s just appropriating a – a lifestyle, a culture, a racial identity. And the fact is, she’s told a lot of lies about other things that we’ve – about her family-

Cuomo: Yeah. Bruce was – Bruce was dealing with something very openly as a man-

Pereira: Right-

Cuomo: That he didn’t feel – he wanted to be different. He wanted to be something else. This is about subterfuge and hiding and dancing around it by saying – well, it was the press accounts that said I was trans-race – whatever that means. And then, it went black-

Camerota: I mean, is it; or is it just that we’re more accustomed to what Bruce has gone through-

Pereira: I don’t know-

Camerota: That we’ve never seen anything like this before?

Pereira: Clearly, this is a young woman who’s struggling with identity, and it does make me terribly sad that she’s struggling with that, and I hope she finds some answers for herself.

Cuomo: Fascinating and interesting are other words for bizarre and strange. And somebody who wants to be something is open about that. It doesn’t come only out when they’re caught.

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