The following is a letter to Rock & Rap Confidential by Rock’s Backpages contributor Mark Kemp
JUST WANTED to let you folks at RRC know that Ed King, ostensibly one of the more enlightened original members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and a former member of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, has unleashed some nasty racist commentary on Facebook.
I found his posts after returning from a two-week honeymoon in France and Italy. It was a rude awakening and depressing greeting back to the U.S.A.
The first of King’s posts that I saw came about four hours before the time on this email. It read:
“IMO, there are plenty of black kids working & struggling to get an education & get ahead. Not enough, though. Good parenting? A rarity. And I’m supposed to believe that the other black kids (thugs, killers, thieves, etc.) are the STUPID ONES? If so, the are MANY. No. They’re LAZY just like their parents. Stop laying it me, the white guy. You’ve had your reparations. Time to GET TO WORK. JUST LIKE ALL COLORS. Signed, Aggravated Honky”
About three hours later, Mr. King posted photos of bloodied white men who had allegedly been attacked by blacks. Accompanying those photos, he wrote:
“Let the healing begin? What BŪLLŚH!T. No where to go but DOWN.”
Mr. King followed that comment with a nod to Ted Nugent and a link to some of HIS recent bile:
“For all you Ted haters. Though I’m not a fan of his music I’ve always respected Ted. He reinvented himself. He HAS no rock n roll money. It was stolen. He WORKED HIS WAY BACK.”
I had been an acquaintance of Mr. King’s since I interviewed him for my book Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race and New Beginnings in a New South. We remained in touch and were “friends” on Facebook. While I disagreed with the occasional semi-conservative views he expressed on his page, I always thought he had more insight than other right-wing rockers. I was wrong. Here’s what I wrote on my Facebook page today in response to King’s outbursts:
RETURNED TO the U.S. today only to open my Facebook page and see a plethora of ugly, vicious comments in my feed from a Facebook “friend” who happens to be a fairly famous former southern rock musician. He was spewing about how black parents need to “get it right”; he called black kids and their parents “lazy,” used the terms “thugs,” “killers” and “thieves,” and concluded that blacks in America have “had their reparations.” He posted pictures of bloodied white people allegedly attacked by blacks. And he dared to preface all of this ugliness by “acknowledging” that there are “plenty of black kids working & struggling to get an education & get ahead. Not enough, though.”
Who the hell does this ex-southern rocker think he is to moralize so generically and condescendingly about “blacks” he doesn’t even know? Where is his outrage over the lazy, self-righteous white thugs who pander to his hateful screed with comments like, “well said, brotherman.” Ironically, this outburst was apparently in response the killing of a young black man. WTF???
I came back to the South in 2002 to try and get some understanding where this kind of hatred and anger comes from. I wanted to understand it. I wanted to try and find some compassion for it. I thought we might be in a period of healing. And I wrote a book about it. Sadly, it seems that we are not healing at all. The culture war we’re in right now in this country is getting uglier and uglier every day, and social media has only made this fact clearer. Facebook is like a truth serum — eventually, you get to know how some people REALLY think. They can’t help it.
So, it’s time again to draw that all-important line in the sand. No way will I remain “friends” — on Facebook or otherwise — with people who stereotype members of my family in such ugly, vicious terms. I value free speech. In fact, I encourage it. Because if people think like this guy thinks, I want to know it, so I can unfriend the hell out of them quickly and decisively. Because as the Specials said so eloquently so many years ago, “If you have a racist friend, now is the time for your friendship to end…”
Don’t know if you want to use this or send it out to your followers, but I think people should know.