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Don Lemon Offered a Heartfelt Message to Kevin Hart After That Ellen Interview
Kevin Hart’s self-serving interview with Ellen DeGeneres sparked criticism as soon as it aired Friday. So during that evening’s edition of CNN Tonight, host Don Lemon gave a heartfelt and personalized message to Hart and DeGeneres.
First, Lemon pointed out that though Hart has insisted that he’s apologized in the past for his homophobic jokes, reporters at Vulture scoured his prior interviews but found no evidence of such an apology. “It is true that some of his old jokes had been addressed,” said Lemon. “In 2015 he told Rolling Stone that he wouldn’t tell homophobic jokes anymore. He said that he wouldn’t tell them anymore because ‘the times weren’t as sensitive as they are now.’ Sensitivity, though, is not an apology.”
Hart made similar statements to other outlets. In 2013, he told Men’s Health, “I’m not big on joking about politics or on jokes pointed at the gay community…I leave those things alone. Things have really changed between where comedy is now and where it used to be.” Again, the words “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” are notably absent.
“Kevin, if anything, this is the time to hear other people out,” said Lemon. “Walking away right now, that is your choice. But many of us need to keep the conversation going. It’s life or death. And someone like Kevin Hart, with one of the biggest megaphones in the world, can be a leader, the ultimate change agent.”
Lemon pointed out that LGBT homeless youth are disproportionately black, with black kids representing some 62% of homeless trans youth. In this context, Hart’s mock violence against his potentially gay son is especially harmful. It may have been “a joke to Kevin,” said Lemon, “but the truth is that is a reality for many little boys in the United States. Somewhere, a black dad is beating his black son.”
And while Ellen may have accepted Hart’s non-apologies, Lemon reminded her that she doesn’t speak for the LGBT community. “I am a gay black man,” he said, acknowledging that he would in turn be unfamiliar with her experience as a white lesbian. “These issues need to be addressed, especially when it comes to black youth in our country. They need to know that they have value, and that it’s okay to be who they are.”