Malaka Of The Week: Strange Fruit PR

The news is bleak this week, so I thought I’d discuss a rare instance where the Tweeter Tube triumphed over inadvertent, but hilariously inept, malakatude.  Besides, my old friend Ricardo suggested it and, like a Top 40 DJ, I take requests. And that is why the Strange Fruit PR firm out of Austin, Texas is malaka of the week.

While it’s not surprising that Austin hipsters wouldn’t know about the classic anti-lynching song Strange Fruit, it *is* surprising that they didn’t use the google to check out their name. It doesn’t exactly make me want to hire them since PR peeps are supposed to be social media and internet savvy. Oops.

Twitter had a great deal of fun at their expense, but they relented after this PR disaster and changed  their name:

There you have it, they were clueless and ignorant, not evil.  They’re not the only ones. Here’s a cover of Offbeat magazine in 2010 that they felt compelled to apologize for:


I forgot all about this flap, but the apology qualifies as malakatude as well:

We didn’t realize the phrase “strange fruit” has the same power in 2010 that it did when lynching was a more contemporary threat.

I didn’t expect to recycle a 4 year old controversy from my own town but it shows the power of Strange Fruit, which was co-written, oddly enough, by the adopted father of the Rosenberg children. The strands of American history are complex but it always comes back to race.

The reason these hapless hipsters set off more alarm bells than the Offbeat cover  is two-fold. First, Twitter is more ubiquitous, which means things go viral even faster than a mere 4 years ago. Much of the time that leads to silliness, but in this case there was a happy ending. Second, and more importantly, we’re in the post Michael Brown-Eric Garner era where public sensitivities are heightened, which is a good thing. Many lynchings were, in fact, supervised by local law enforcement. Sad but true.

I’m glad that the young ladies who set off this firestorm apologized after being taught a very painful public lesson about a painful period in our history. It never ends, y’all, and that is why the former Strange Fruit PR firm is malaka of the week.

I’ll give Billie Holiday the last word: