I’ve long had my suspicions about Pitchfork, but I didn’t have real proof, until just now.
This week, the hipster music bible found itself embroiled in a number of controversies primarily centering on race. Will this lead to people being forced to step down from their positions like at The New York Times and Bon Appetit? We can only hope.
Early in the week, it was announced that rap column The Ones was being shunted off to Instagram, with new articles appearing as captions to photos and videos.
Does anyone actually read the captions on Instagram? Maybe it’s because I follow mostly women, but I can’t tell you that I’ve ever read a caption on Instagram.
Ha ha, just kidding.
No, but really. The Ones replaced Levels, which was supposed to be this big rap music initiative from Pitchfork. I remember having a look when it launched a few years ago. The first big feature was on Odd Future, so obviously they were trying to make some sort of statement. This was a while after Odd Future had already ceased to exist.
A while later, I tried to take another look at Levels, and I couldn’t find it. There was no link to it from the main page. They were still publishing articles, but you had to use a search engine to find them. It was the music journalism equivalent of when Milton was forced to move his desk to the basement, in Office Space.
Since then, they unceremoniously let go of the black kids they hired to write Levels and deleted all of that content from the site. Was it that bad? I wish I’d actually read some of it when it was still available, “for my own personal amusement.” As discussed in Critical Beatdown, Pitchfork sometimes removes articles from its archives, including a review of a John Coltrane album written in black vernacular English by former editor-in-chief Ryan Schreiber.
In May, Pitchfork parent company Condé Nast announced company-wide layoffs due to Corona. The only Pitchfork staffer affected was Stacey Anderson, the chair of the Pitchfork Union and the site’s “only Senior Editor of color,” per a statement released by the union. The union feels that she was targeted for her participation in the union and also because she’s black. It’s suggested in the statement that black Condé Nast staffers have been disproportionately affected by the layoffs, which, of course they were. That’s how layoffs work! Last hired and first fired.
Any time I read an article about a woman, I do a Google image search. It’s an old habit from my days as a blogger. I consulted The Google re: Stacey Anderson from Pitchfork, and I couldn’t find a single photo. At first, I thought that maybe she was doing the thing that some food writers do, where they don’t post photos of themselves, so that restaurants won’t try to ply them with free food (which, btw, is the definition of White People Hobbies). Then I clicked through one of the many photos of white chicks named Stacey Anderson, and come to find out it was her.
When I heard the name Stacey Anderson, my mind of course went to ‘00s-era pr0n chick Stacy Adams. In retrospect, I’m not sure why I thought they’d have someone like that working there. The girl who used to work for Pitchfork looks whiter than Rashida Jones, who recently came under fire for having the sheer balls to star in a Netflix series called BlackAF. It’s quite possible that Condé Nast hired Anderson thinking she was white and got rid of her when they realized their mistake, not unlike how Dunder Mifflin eventually realized that Milton Waddams had been let go years before and never removed from the payroll.
I’m just throwing that out there as a possibility.
Elsewhere in the statement, Pitchfork’s union revealed that they tried to get Condé Nast to institute a sort of hipster music journalism Rooney Rule, in which at least half of the people interviewed for jobs at Pitchfork would have to be from “underrepresented backgrounds.” Condé Nast responded that they couldn’t do this because “for certain positions it’s hard to find qualified applicants from underrepresented backgrounds” and “not every job is created equal.” In other words, they already tried to hire a buncha black kids once before, and they had to get rid of them.
If they wanted to, I’m sure Condé Nast could just interview a sufficient number of black (er, “underrepresented”) applicants and then just hire the white ones, the same way they do at literally every other company. The fact that they’re not willing to do even that just goes to show their commitment to not hiring black people. They might be forced to now that the union has put them on blast. We’ll know that real change has come to Pitchfork when the text on the site is riddled with typos, usage errors and malapropisms.
Take it easy on yourself,