Cuomo started singing the theme tune to 1970s television classic Good Times, the CBS sitcom about a Black family living in Chicago, and Lemon asked him: “‘How do you know all the words to Good Times?”
He responded: “You know I’m Black on the inside.”
Twitter users were outraged and immediately criticised Cuomo, who previously said calling an Italian-American “Fredo” was on par with using the N-word.
“It’s f***ing offensive,” tweeted Sister2Sister managing editor Aisha Staggers. “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.”
“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 bulls**t 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.”
One person commented: “What a ridiculous thing to say - guy is a total loser.”
Another simply stated: “Terrible. Just terrible.”
Sister Mary Dande went on to suggest that CNN ought to “have some sensitivity training” with its on-air personalities.
She wrote: “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.”
Dande added: “I live, work, and worship in a blue collar Black community. My Black friends sometimes say I was poured in the wrong colour body. But I wouldn’t ever presume to say that about myself on television.”
Someone joked: “Let’s split him open to confirm”
Later that day Cuomo did respond to some who asked him about the comment. He responded by saying that, “Said with all respect to reality and our need to fight this amplification of colour animus” and that “The majority must change racism.”