Below, I’m posting my letter to the editor of offBeat Magazine, the preeminent New Orleans music magazine. They’ve recently shown such a tragic lack of sensitivity and journalistic responsibility and awareness, that I simply have to remark upon it. I will not post the cover of the most recent issue on my blog, as I find it repulsively offensive. But Jamey has it up, along with a bit of her response, on her blog and I will link to it, so you can join the discussion. And I hope you will. Loudly.
From: email@example.comTo: firstname.lastname@example.orgCc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear offBeat Staff,
I was shocked, shocked and offended, to see the “Strange Fruit” headline on an image of six white guys hanging from a jungle gym. Whoever designed and approved this cover – what were they thinking? Were they thinking? Or worse, did they have no clue what they were referring to? “What’s in a name, indeed,” a friend said to me as we discussed it today. I fear that this offensive cover threatens to overcome any good the story was intended to do for the band.
The song “Strange Fruit” refers to the bodies of lynched black people hanging from trees. I’d expect a music magazine to understand the history of a song like this, as it’s not exactly obscure, as well as the implications of using this song title as a headline over the image of white guys hanging from a jungle gym. But perhaps that’s too much to hope.
Shame on the entire editorial staff.
It’s an even more horrifyingly ironic note that this comes right on the heels of Black History Month. I honestly don’t know how this cover passed any sort of editorial review and why anybody imagined “Strange Fruit” was an appropriate title for this cover.
7:12 p.m. Update:
offBeat had this to say on Twitter: @KAMMsTheACE intentions were COMPLETELY benign, but it was poor choice of words. we understand if we offended, and sincerely apologize. about 3 hours ago via web in reply to KAMMsTheACE
@OffBeatMagazine: You say the intentions were benign & I think you owe us an explanation. What WERE your intentions? 1 minute ago via web
@OffBeatMagazine: You let the band, your advertisers and your readers waaaay down and I want to know why. What response did you want? half a minute ago via web
Unfortunately, after the “Twitterversy” that the Publisher’s Weekly “Afro Picks” cover may have caused, I’m afraid that a rabid, viral offended response might have been what offBeat Magazine was going for. We’ve seen time and again that it doesn’t always matter these days what people are saying about you, as long as they’re talking. Yuck.