RiShawn Biddle Fired From The Indianapolis Star

I knew RiShawn when he lived in Los Angeles and interviewed him Feb. 25, 2003.

I once wrote that he was the only darkie in a room of pale faces (at a panel at AFI). He reproved me for the word "darkie." He said it was racist. I removed the word.

Biddle worked at Forbes. He was fired when his notes couldn’t substantiate one of his stories (quotes). He went to the Los Angeles Business Journal and then to the Indianapolis Star as an editorial writer.

Richard Prince writes:

An African American editorial writer for the Indianapolis Star was ousted late Wednesday, five days after he wrote a racially charged blog posting blasting the city and county council president, who is also African American.

The newspaper’s editor, Dennis Ryerson, removed the posting by RiShawn Biddle Wednesday and apologized to readers.

Then, at 5:30 p.m., Tim Swarens, editor of Opinion and Community Conversations, sent this one-sentence note to the staff of the Gannett newspaper:

"Effective immediately, editorial writer RiShawn Biddle is no longer employed by The Indianapolis Star."

Riddle’s blog entry was titled, "The Indianapolis Black Democrat minstrel show."

It was originally called "Coons for Power," judging from the Web address for the blog entry, which uses those words, and according to the Indianapolis blogosphere.

One blogger wrote that the piece originally compared the council president to "Zip Coon, a derogatory, racial slur on black men dating to the days of slavery."

In the version that remains elsewhere on the site, one that Biddle writes "was revised by yours truly to better reflect the overall point," he says:

"Then there’s the embarrassing spectacle that is Monroe Gray, whose tenure as city-county council president is being marked by a lack of decorum during council sessions, the videos of himself on YouTube and responses to allegations of corruption that wouldn’t be acceptable to a child who claimed his dog ate the homework. His act epitomizes the lack of seriousness some Black politicians show in their work; it’s just inexcusable.

"If I hadn’t seen this with my own eyes over the past three years, I would have thought they came straight out of ‘Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat.’ I don’t know any powerful Black people like that. Do I? Sadly, we do. Before our eyes stand men and women charged with serving the citizens of this city behaving badly, awfully, arrogantly, as if they didn’t receive any home-training."

…Blogger Ruth Holladay, a former Star columnist, wrote Wednesday night:

"A larger issue is the Star’s horrendous history with hiring and retaining black journalists under Gannett: Michael Dabney, an editor, resigned or was fired over a problem with his license not being renewed — Dabney landed at NUVO," the alternative weekly, "and is the president of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists; Michael Rochon, extremely talented, a young cop reporter and a personal favorite, was fired rather than helped for a substance abuse problem — he later died at home in Philadelphia; Kim Hooper and Courteney Edelhart left to take better jobs; James Patterson, an editorial writer whom Biddle replaced, was fired — he and Lisa Coffey have a lawsuit against Gannett."

From an Indiana blog:

Abdul thinks there’s a bit of a double standard going, because democrats weren’t equally up in arms when city-county council attorney aaron haith referred to abdul as "the grandson of willie lynch". there may be some validity to this, but then again, the two acts are hardly in the same league. as i said in the comments at tdw, haith made a spontaneous, one-sentence, offensive remark. rishawn, in contrast, wrote a nine-paragraph screed that was loaded with offensive language, which he went back and edited four times and yet is still offensive. haith’s mistake was arguably a crime of passion done in the heat of the moment; biddle’s was clearly premeditated, and directed toward the public. hell, rishawn was so proud of his race-baiting garbage that he sent out an email bragging about it. i have to wonder whether any of this would’ve even happened if he hadn’t sent out that email.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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