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"That's probably how I got so obsessed with race in the first place, just being an outsider pretty much my whole life," Crawford muses. "I feel unique within the group of people I live around. You try to use it to your advantage."
"The kids never segregated themselves into different ethnic groups," notes Crawford's father. "[Byron] looks at things colorless, I believe. He moved to an adult-level sense of humor at a very early age. He was very sarcastic as a nine- and ten-year-old, and that used to cost him, big time."
Sarcasm and racial insensitivity are trademark fare in Crawford's blogs. Few were more beguiling than the time he "came out" as white. Posting a picture of a different man named Byron Crawford -- a white journalist from Louisville -- he mischievously blogged:
"I'll go ahead and admit it: I'm white. I know, I know, it's horrible. I went to the bank today and they actually approved me for a loan. In fact, one of the bank managers ended up being my cousin and actually offered me a job. No more flipping White Assholes for me! Later on tonight, I'm going to have sex with... with... a white girl!"
(Shortly after the posting, Crawford received a cease-and-desist letter from the journalist's lawyer, which he complied with.)
"Nobody seems to know if he's black or white or Latino," volunteers Jim Izrael of Crawford. "It's part of his shtick, and it's funny because he's able to press buttons that way. His approach to blogging and satire is just classic hip-hop: 'I'm gonna put my balls on the keyboard and say what the fuck I wanna say. And if you don't want to deal with it -- fuck you.'"
Kris Ex says that even in an era of Internet anonymity, a blogger's identity is important.
"There was a lot of talks of jigs and stuff and a lot of criticism of hip-hop [on Crawford's site], and I didn't know if it came from someone who actually appreciated the culture," Ex says. "But then when I knew he was black it became a lot more amusing to me. I thought that this is someone who obviously loves hip-hop but doesn't like where it's going and wants to criticize it out of love, not out of disdain."
Ex's praise of Crawford is surprising, considering that Crawford once pulled a vicious prank on him. Angered that Ex hadn't included his site on a list of hip-hop blogs he wrote for Vibe magazine, Crawford hijacked the URL of Ex's personal blog and rerouted readers to a page called 'Kris Ex is a Douche.' "I thought it was fuckin' funny," says Ex now. "It's an honor, because his targets have always been [celebrities] like Kanye West."
"People like to see a good fight -- it's like watching a car wreck or something," Crawford says. "People wouldn't necessarily expect somebody to retaliate about something that happened over the Internet. You'd never see the Post-Dispatch try to start a newspaper war with The New York Times."
In any case, Crawford says that outside the virtual world nobody has accused him of acting white.
"A lot of the black people I grew up with were sort of similar to me," he says. "They had worse taste than I did. I might listen to the Gin Blossoms but you won't catch me at a Dave Matthews concert.
But, he explains: "I'm not embarrassed to listen to anything. Maybe when I was younger, but now I'll pull up to high schools by my house and I'll be blasting Fleetwood Mac. Young black kids will look at me like, 'What's his problem? Where'd he come from?'
"Then," he adds, chuckling at his own audacity, "I'll turn it up."
You should write a story about racist restaurants," says Jason Crawford, sitting down with some friends at Cicero's on Delmar on a recent Friday night. As Hennessys and T-ravs are ordered, the younger Crawford sibling complains that he's recently uncovered the sinister underbelly of Caucasian restaurant culture.
"The white people in the restaurant have a code word for assigning people to sections," he says, referring to the family-style chain where he recently quit his job as a server. "They call black people Canadians!"
Most of the white folk in the group confess they're aware of this phenomenon. Byron Crawford, sitting next to his thin, dreadlocked brother, chuckles. To him, race relations are just another laughing matter.
Crawford, furious -- or at least pretending to be -- responded with an open letter to Wang on his site:
"So here's the deal: YOU put the BC dot C back on YOUR blogroll, with the description 'the best blog ever,' and I'LL stop calling you a gay chink OR YOU decide to do nothing, or create another post calling me a juvenile (dude, I'm 23 years old), and I'LL devote my every waking hour to making sure nobody takes YOU seriously ever again."
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