A few years ago, I had these pictures of some youth from an unfortunate area on their way to the prom. They were already rather amusing in and of themselves, but I added what I felt was the proper context and posted them onto my own site.
They ended up becoming quite the sensation on the Internets. A ridonkulous amount of people viewed them each year, especially around prom time. I was interviewed by a guy from a major newspaper for a story about the kind of wacky shit kids in the ghetto wear to prom, back during (I believe) prom season in 2006. I was even once emailed by the producer of that show Hot Ghetto Mess, a while before the show hit the air, wanting to know if I owned the rights to said pictures and whether I had any more of them. (If I would have known that show would become such a legendary clusterfuck, I would have submitted something.)
Last year, about a month before I started working for this site, I noticed a shiteload of hits on my own site coming from this website of racist cracka-ass crackas called Free Republic. I checked into it and, come to find out, a guy who worked in PR for the Golden State Warriors had been fired for sending out a mass email – to newspaper reporters and columnists, radio and TV stations and what have you – containing the same pictures, along with what was described as “racially insensitive commentary.”
I never did get around to finding a copy of the email myself, but I suspect that said “racially insensitive commentary” was courtesy of yours truly. From what I understand, the pictures had already been circulating via email for a couple of years before I added the proper context.
As a commenter on the sports blog Deadspin – where a link to the pictures as they appeared on my site was posted – put it:
The pics have been on the net for a couple of years now and are still some of the greatest forward material ever created. They were much funnier without the comments. Not to say that they aren’t still hilarious, because they most certainly are, but it’s just not the same anymore. Damm you, racist comment person! Damm you to hell!!!
Then the link to my own site was removed and replaced with a link to the pictures on another site, sans the proper context, along with the following apology (of sorts):
Yeah, I changed the link to those photos to a decidedly less, oh, John Rocker-ian Web site. Sorry about that.
Which I found especially ironic, since Deadspin is published by Gawker Media, which has been known for pulling its share of “racially insensitive” stunts over the years, including cracking fried chicken jokes on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Anyhoo, I was reminded of this just now when I came across the story of yet another media professional who may or may not have been fired because he made the mistake of repeating some shit he read on the world’s gulliest website.
Just now I came across the story of this guy RiShawn Biddle, who was dropped like a bad habit from his job as an editorial writer for the Indianapolis Star for a blog post on the Indy Star website blasting a local politician. In the post, which was titled “Coons for Power” and was retitled “The Indianapolis Black Democratic minstrel show” (presumably so that it didn’t have any racial slurs in its title), he compared the politician – a black guy – to Zip Coon – which I believe is a character from the minstrel song of the same name, which was the basis of that song “Chain Hang Low” by Jibbs. (My bad if I just lost you.)
Here’s the AP story on the incident, courtesy of Google News:
I had become aware of the incident as part of my daily scouring of the Internets for contentious race issues; but reading it, it occurred to me that I had been aware of this guy RiShawn Biddle for some time now, having come across a few posts on his now-infamous Indy Star blog which reference posts on my own blog.
For example, there was this post from March of this year, in which he pointed to my own blog to illustrate the fact that black men in this country can do more than walk around with their pants falling down their asses, filling America’s ghettos with out of wedlock children (the title of the post is “What Black can be”):
Being Black can also about enjoying Mozart, writing historical novels based in the Elizabethan period, or as shown by the Hughes Brothers (they of “Dead Presidents” fame) even making a film about Jack the Ripper. And it can also be about livin’ in the ‘hood or run blogs discussing Hip-Hop, alternative rock, immigration reform and “The Real World” as in the case of Byron Crawford.
[note: obviously this kid's grammar game was severely lacking]
I believe there were other ones as well, but they don’t pay me any extra to do extensive research. But at the very least we know the guy was a reader of my site. I’ve also come to expect that a good half of the newsroom over there is at least aware of the site, since I was interviewed by the Indy Star (by two separate journalists, mind you) for stories on both the wacky outfits ghetto kids wear to prom, as well as the campaign I ran in 2004 to have Kanye West disqualified from the Grammys for pretending he wrote “Jesus Walks,” for which he eventually won the Grammy for (I believe) Best Song.
And of course I spearheaded the movement of using the term “minstrel rap” to refer to rap songs and videos which recall the minstrel show era, including Jibbs’ “Chain Hang Low” – the rap song based on the minstrel song “Zip Coon,” which just so happened to be referenced in the post on the Indy Star blog that got RiShawn Biddle fired. Coincidence? I wonder. (This post on my own site charts the rise of the minstrel rap meme, from the original post on my own site, to the point where it was being discussed on the radio by Jesse Jackson in light of the KKKramer incident – but a while still before the Don Imus incident.)
The other day, I rolled off of the couch at the ass crack of 10 a.m., which is about par for the course for me these days. I checked my own site, to make sure it’s still there, like I always do. And it almost always is, except for that time Ray J had it successfully removed from the Internets (an incident I recounted in a post on this site, which has also since been removed from the Internets – talk about irony!), as well as the other day. For a minute there, I though that Lyor Cohen, upset about my continual use of the term tall Israeli, had finally made a few phone calls. But come to find out, the domain name for my site had just expired and needed to be renewed. Which of course meant that the other day, October 30th 2007, was the fourth anniversary of my site, byroncrawford.com.
There wasn’t a celebration per se; I drank a shiteload of beer and watched the Real World, which is what I would have done otherwise. But in the past few days, I’ve been reflecting quite a bit on the fact that I’ve spent so much of the past few years sitting in my mom’s basement making life that much more difficult for the likes of TPAR and others among us who lack any personal commitment to the truth. On the one hand, it would be nice to have a job that actually pays money, as well as affords you the ability to be around people who know how to read and who know what you’re talking about more often than not. But on the other hand, it’s hard to put a price on having been able to participate in such hilarious incidents as the ones depicted above.
Oh, who am I kidding. I’d easily trade the last four years for, like, twenty minutes with Scarlett Johansson.
To four more years of gulliness!