This holiday season, conservative black columnist Stanley Crouch is in a cheerful mood — not because of the company of good family or friends, or for witnessing the giving spirit of strangers, or the returning of our young men and women from Iraq — but because he believes America is turning their backs on the Kardashians. To that I say, okay — whatever floats his boat.
In his December 19th op-ed in the New York Daily News he writes about “nearing the end of decadence” and the celebration of celebrity culture. He praises Barbara Walters for questioning the reality sisters on how they’ve made it without “any talent.”
Crouch then pivots to talk about how black culture has been disproportionately “deformed and dehumanized” by the celebration of wealth by “hustlers and corrupt profiteers.” Up to this point in the article, Mr. Crouch has me shouting “amen.”
However, here’s where my coffee mug met the floor. Mr Crouch writes:
Black websites such as The Grio have become some of the most contaminated places on the Internet because they have licked the boots of disreputable people in every kind of career, seeming to believe that the hustling attitude is perfectly correct and nothing can ever be wrong about money.
Thus, minstrels like Lil Wayne came to be celebrated as heroes.
But those websites are beginning to ask questions of the sub-talented, the whorish, the profoundly ignorant and makers of toxic images.
Coming around is always on time.
As the year comes to a close, I have had the opportunity to reflect on all of the great things that theGrio.com has accomplished, and “licking the boots of disreputable people” is far from one of them. We’ve done countless stories and op-eds criticizing rappers for their use of n-word, their misogyny, and promotion of violence.
Mr. Crouch would be hard pressed to find a piece on theGrio praising the Kardashians or Lil Wayne.
Just this week, we wrote about a movement to boycott the Kardashians and we covered allegations that slave labor is used to create some of their products. Also this week, theGrio challenged rapper Common for using the n-word on a track featuring Dr. Maya Angelou.
Earlier this year when Kanye West and Jay-Z released their collaborative album Watch the Throne, we asked whether the lyrics flaunting their wealth and possessions were tone deaf to the realities of high unemployment and poverty that the black community is disproportionately facing.
On the other hand, when members of the hip-hop or pop culture community do good things, we at theGrio are not ashamed to praise their efforts, and our Living Forward series does just that. But we take a back seat to no one in also seeking accountability.
As founder and executive editor of theGrio, I view it as a great responsibility to inform our community of stories that are relevant. I’m privileged to head a news operation that was able to put three reporters on the ground to file 10 reports on the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake. I’m proud of how theGrio has stayed on top of the various voter ID laws that threaten to take away the most basic rights of many African-Americans. It was an honor to be the only digital outlet to cover the Congressional Black Caucus’ jobs tour.
We’ve also been aggressive in highlighting stories about the increasing wealth and education gap, health disparities, and high incarceration rates in the black community.
However, nothing gives us more joy than to share with our readers the positive stories that come from our community. We are proud of stories like a daughter who gave her kidney to an ailing mother, a 7-year-old girl who wrote a book about fighting obesity, the first black female general in the U.S. military and a young black man fighting cancer and a chance at the next winter Olympics. I am honored by the fact that every year we are able to highlight some of the most amazing African-Americans many may otherwise never hear of if not for theGrio’s 100 list.
The truth is that Mr. Crouch is no stranger to theGrio or some of the good that our site contributes to our community. He participated a video report theGrio did on the lost recordings of one of his musical icons, Ella Fitzgerald.
If Mr. Crouch was truly honest with himself and his readers he would point out that it’s not sites “such as” theGrio that celebrate the “sub-talented, the whorish, and the profoundly ignorant and makers of toxic images.” There are several mainstream publications, outlets, and websites — including Mr. Couch’s own paper’s gossip section — that do a far better job covering and give far more ink to these individuals than we can or ever will.
But we all know it’s easier for Mr. Crouch to go after a black-focused website like theGrio than to bite the hand that feeds him.