Strange Fruit PR Firm Apologizes for Name
UPDATE December 9, 2014: JET received the following statement from Strange Fruit PR Co-founders, Mary Mickel & Ali Slutsky:
“We sincerely apologize to those offended by the former name of our firm. As of today, we have renamed our firm to Perennial Public Relations. We have always prided ourselves as open-minded individuals and we remain committed to serving our clientele and community. In no way did we ever intend for the name of our firm to offend nor infer any implication of racism. We are grateful for and appreciate the ongoing support of our clients and community.”
— Audra Williams (@audrawilliams) December 7, 2014
In 1939, talented jazz singer, Billie Holiday released the song, “Strange Fruit.” Its significance became widespread as the song detailed race relations and the lynching epidemic under the laws of Jim Crow in the South.
Its metaphoric meaning identified “the fruit” as being the brutalized, beaten and tortured bodies of Black men and women. The conversation of lynching has been reawakened as more cases of unarmed men being shot to death by police officers rise.
Tensions are high and the dialogue will not fade anytime soon.
In the midst of protest and worldwide call for change, Twitter discovered an Austin, Texas public relations firm with the company name “Strange Fruit PR” and quickly flew into slam mode demanding the firm to change its name.
I just need to point out that the owners of @StrangeFruitPR decided to rebrand the corpses of lynched Black people. For a food PR firm.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) December 7, 2014
Questions were raised, asking how the company could be so removed and tone-deaf with the connotations such a name brings reference to.
And we all know the power of Twitter. Within minutes, Strange Fruit PR, which has been in business since 2012, was erased from Twitter and seemingly vanished from the Interwebs, altogether.
Eventually, the firm apologized in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman stating, “We extend our deepest and sincerest apologies for the offense cause by the name of our public relations firm.”
The Twitter conversation extends to proposing name changes for the company.
Proposed name changes for @StrangeFruitPR: 1) SouthernStrategyPR 2) PeculiarInstitutionPR 3) InvisibleBackpackPR
— jay smooth (@jsmooth995) December 7, 2014
Do you think the company’s name was blatant racism or an act of ignorance and lack of research on the firm’s behalf? Let us know in the comments!