CNN’s Chris Cuomo to Don Lemon: ‘You Know I’m Black on the Inside’

CNN’s anchor Chris Cuomo said, “I’m black on the inside,” during the handover segment with his colleague Don Lemon on Friday, as he cited the words of the theme song from the 1970s program “Good Times.”

Partial transcript as follows:

CUOMO: I had somebody hit me with something today that hurt. She said to me, you know, I don’t have to tell you about how I’m living with my family and how setback we are by this because there was a TV show that was all about it in the 70s and it is the reality for too many people of color all over the country. And I said, what? And she said, I’ll give you a hint. She said that this was the end. Just looking out of the window watching the ash fall grow. And again, how it all looks handy down.

LEMON: How do you know the words “Good Times?”

CUOMO: You know I’m black on the inside.

LEMON: “Good Times” any time you need a baby.

CUOMO: So, good times, so Florida, who, by the way, was a hugely educated. I think she was a Yale. And of course, Florida and James Evans the portrait of being stuck in the Chicago projects —

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: — drugs, unending poverty, the anger and outrage of being incapable of getting past systemic oppression. Their son Michael, you know, being caught in revolution —

LEMON: J.J.

CUOMO: — and all these angry ideas.

LEMON: J.J., the brother-in-law who is the basketball player that never could get it off the ground.

CUOMO: Dynamite.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: So, I look at the lyrics again and I got to tell you, it was like a reality slap in the face. Other than the fact that it was an amazing song. Any time you meet a payment, any time you need a friend.

LEMON: Any time you need upbringing.

CUOMO: Any time you are out from under, not getting hassled, not getting hustled, keeping your head above water.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Keeping your head above water, making a way when you can.

CUOMO: Making a way when you can.

LEMON: Temporary —

CUOMO: Temporary lay-off.

LEMON: Good times.

CUOMO: Easy credit rip offs.

LEMON: Good times.

CUOMO: Scratching and surviving.

LEMON: Good times.

CUOMO: Hanging and jiving.

LEMON: Good times.

CUOMO: Aren’t we lucky we got them —

LEMON: Aren’t we lucky we got them. And had the organ.

CUOMO: And people having to live small, take solace in each other —

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: — and I can’t believe we are back there 50 years later.

LEMON: Yes. Well, 40 some years later.

CUOMO: The 70s —

LEMON: Almost 50 years later.

CUOMO: The 70s that song was.

LEMON: Yes, I wanted to watch —

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That TV show was the 70s.

LEMON: I watch that show every single weekend. I’ve seen every episode like 20 times. I’m actually friends with the mom of, you know, Janet Jackson, the original mom, Kim Fields.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Janet Jackson was in that show.

LEMON: Yes. So, Kim Fields is —

CUOMO: You know it.

LEMON: Kim Fields is a friend of mine, and her had mom was the original mother on the show.

CUOMO: Willona?

LEMON: Willona. No. Not Willona, but the original mom. Willona was the adopted mother.

CUOMO: Right, right, right.

LEMON: We are getting way in the weeds here.

CUOMO: But I mean, it was so — but I’ll tell you what.

LEMON: But Kim Fields was Tootie on “Facts of Life.”

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: Remember?

CUOMO: Yes.

LEMON: And then —

CUOMO: She did a great job on that.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Janet Jackson was great on this.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: But the heartbreaking inexorable nature of things are not going to get better for us.

LEMON: Yes. CUOMO: James was so angry because he couldn’t get ahead.

LEMON: But I’ll tell you about that show. Yes, it true, there was also some frustration in the black community on that show, because no one ever got on and out. Right? And there was — that was a reality for many people in the country. But it was also in a time in the 70s where black people were getting a sense of autonomy and they were upwardly mobile, and that show was not a reflection of that.

CUOMO: No.

LEMON: So, there was frustration with that. And guess what came along after that.

CUOMO: The Jeffersons?

LEMON: Moving on up.

CUOMO: That was a great song to the east side.

LEMON: To the east side.

CUOMO: And deluxe apartment.

LEMON: Willona —

CUOMO: It’s like the story of Don Lemon.

LEMON: Willona wrote that song.

CUOMO: Did she?

LEMON: Yes. I think she sang it too, yes.

CUOMO: Wow, that was a great song.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And you know, George Jefferson, again, Sherman Hemsley, was such a brilliant Shakespearean actor who played that role. But I got to tell you —

LEMON: Those are great actors. Him and all of those actors were great. The — Florida, what was her name, who was Florida Evans on “Good Times.” Well, I can’t — I think —

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: She was a Yale.

LEMON: I know. She is very smart. I’m having a senior moment right now, forgive me. I know I’m going to get —

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: A million people will tell us. But what I’m saying is, are we really going back to that kind of reality?

LEMON: Yes, we are.

[22:05:00]

CUOMO: You know, the Chicago, “Good Times” was further —

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: And even further.

CUOMO: — than the Chicago projects, Cabrini-Green, you know, I was covering that back in the day when I started this. They called it the killing fields in between those projects because you couldn’t get out. The only way you got out for too many was in a box.

LEMON: Yes. Well I covered —

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: And it really makes me worried about where we are and that’s why this relief bill matters so much. We’ve got to get people out of the grip of poverty right now.

LEMON: Beverly Johnson just texted me. You know, the model, first model of the —

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: What did she say about my singing?

LEMON: She said Esther Rolle in that.

CUOMO: Esther Rolle.

LEMON: Esther Rolle. Yes, I covered Cabrini-Green when I live in Chicago and it was, Cabrini-Green is changing now, but yes, you’re right.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: Well now it’s gone.

LEMON: Now we are going back.

CUOMO: They tore Cabrini-Green down.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Robert Taylor Holmes was still up.

LEMON: Yes, there’s still parts, there’s still Cabrini-Green. There’s the park and all that. But let me tell you, I think we are going back even further. I think we are going back with these voting restrictions. We are going back to Jim Crow is what’s happening. CUOMO: Well, look, these laws, so I’ve spent some time reading them.

You know, first, I was like, they won’t do this. I mean, restricting early voting is crazy, Republicans vote early more than Democrats do. These things are frightening.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Because, you know, they are playing on ignorance and animus. Here is a really wicked one and I will get out of your way. Hey, why wouldn’t you show an I.D.? Everybody has I.D.? Yes? Who has an I.D.? Everyone who drives.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: How many people in big cities drive?

LEMON: Drive.

CUOMO: Not so many.

LEMON: You know who didn’t have a driver’s license and an I.D. for a long time? Someone you work with. Barbara Walters.

CUOMO: It’s true.

LEMON: She didn’t drive. She grew up in New York City.

CUOMO: That’s true.

LEMON: Never want to drive.

CUOMO: Look, my daughter, Bella, a lot of her friends they didn’t want to get driver licenses.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: She wanted to get it and so you just start going down the line. Also, now, people are going to get in and get a government I.D. when so many people in positions of poverty want as little to do with the government. They can’t get the time off.

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: And it becomes disenfranchising like that and they know it. This is wicked stuff.

LEMON: Yes, it is. And aren’t we lucky we got them.

CUOMO: Hey.

LEMON: Chris Cuomo!

CUOMO: That is strong. Is there anything you can’t do, D. Lemon?

LEMON: Yes.

CUOMO: Just looking out of the window. I love you, D. Lemon.

LEMON: I love you. Hey, thank you for helping me today. I appreciate it.

CUOMO: That’s why I’m here. I deliver.

LEMON: All right. I’ll see you. You certainly do. Rain, sleets, snow or shine. Chris delivered my mail to my office today. Thank you, sir. Have a great weekend.

CUOMO: I love you.

LEMON: I love you too.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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