Strange Fruit PR To Pick New Name After Being Told (Again) That Their Current One Refers To The Bodies Of Lynched Black People
Google the term “Strange Fruit” and the first result is the Wikipedia page for the infamous Billie Holiday song, originally written as a poem by Abel Meeropol, about the lynching of Black Americans. “Strange fruit” literally refers to Black bodies hanging from trees. This is a fact that seemingly went over the heads of Ali Slutsky and Mary Mickel (above), the (white!) gals behind the two-year-old Austin-based “hospitality” firm Strange Fruit PR, whose Twitter bio completely seriously asks, “Are you a strange fruit?” Or it did up until today, when the Twitter feed, as well as the company’s entire internet presence, disappeared after they were called out about the offensiveness of their name. They also released a statement of apology, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
See, this wasn’t the first time Strange Fruit PR was made aware of the meaning behind their name. Back in January 2013 (!), they were called out and their tweets in response were just … BEYOND tone deaf, not to mention ultimately dismissive. They tweeted:
Which is why the apology they issued today before taking down their account and website is just not that impressive. (Also, tweeting an apology and then taking down your account moments later, thus deleting the apologetic tweet, is pretty dumb too.) In addition to saying they were very sorry, they didn’t mean to offend, and they’re going to pick a new name for their company, they offered up this pathetic explanation for choosing the name in the first place: “We thought the term ‘strange fruit’ could mean someone who really stands out in a crowd.” OH DID YOU? Even after people told you that your name refers to Black people lynched by racists? You were still like, “Yeah but it can ALSO MEAN, like, having the confidence to, like, BE YOURSELF. It’s empowering!”
What’s even crazier is that this PR company had clients! Lots of them! All of whom seemingly did not pause for a second about working with a company that named themselves after lynched Black bodies! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
Anyway, Mikki Kendall has suggested that Strange Fruit PR rebrand itself with a name chosen by Black Twitter, and I happen to think that is a marvelous idea. At the very least, I can’t wait to see what they come up with.