RiShawn Biddle: black enough

Dateline: Tue 20 Nov 2007

I recently asked RiShawn Biddle to respond to some questions about his work at the Star. He was fired Oct. 31 for upsetting some of the city's black leaders etc. by using the words "zip coon" on a blog. The fallout was almost more telling than the incident: the Star's exec editor Dennis Ryerson wore his diamond stud earring when he apologized in public at a political rally, and the Newspaper Guild continues to ask questions about the very public canning. Or was it a caning? At any rate, Ryerson certainly didn't follow the usual Gannett party line of keeping his mouth shut regarding a personnel matter.

Here's Biddle, answering the following questions:

"Was I ever on a PIP?" (Personal Improvement Plan -- something management uses when employees are either falling short or are being hustled out because they earn too much, are old, etc.). "No. The paper, in fact, had recognized my award-winning work for them each and every year I was employed with raises and other recognition. (Biddle was at the Star 3 years).

"Was I writing editorials for the paper up to my departure? Yes.

"As for work? I am exploring new opportunities.

"IN regards to certain black commentators in this city who claim that I'm not, well, black enough:

"As I've said always and often, Black merely means that you are born with at least one African-American parent. It isn't a mindset or a

groupthink; Blacks are diverse in their opinions and viewpoints; no one

person can claim they represent the vast variety of viewpoints within

the African-American community, especially in Indianapolis. There is plenty of room for all worldviews and they should be accommodated."

Amen.

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