Whitewashing Black College Beach Week
After 30 years of relentless black mob violence at the annual black college beach weekend in Virginia Beach, pop star Pharrell finally figured out how to “change the vibe.” He gentrified it, staging a three-day festival with white performers and white concertgoers paying $280 for a three-day pass.
The result: instead of 30,000 to 100,000 black people invading Virginia Beach at the end of every April to create epic levels of violence, theft, mayhem, chaos, attacks on police, killing a police horse, looting, defiance, lots and lots of dope, shootings, dine and dashes -- all celebrated in a song by Public Enemy -- Pharrell’s festival attracted an older, whiter, more docile crowd.
Nothing happened. Other than music celebrating guns, drugs, money, bitches, murder and cop killing, that is. But that was confined to the stage. More on that in a minute.
Not that anyone is forgetting the last 30 years. In 1989, the Virginia Beach party animals called it Greek Week -- one of dozens of such gatherings of black college fraternities and sororities up and down the East Coast over a several-year period. All leaving crime, trash, destruction, and excuses in their wake as they were run out of one town after another.
Today, local reporters are eager to minimize the violence from that time or attribute it to white racist police.
But back then, no one in Virginia Beach questioned whether 50,000 to 100,000 black people were creating incredible levels of mayhem by destroying 100 shops, fighting cops, and breaking the law.
They killed a horse. They threw a cinder block at its head.
All while blasting out the two big hits of that summer: “F*ck the Police” and “Fight the Power,” from the Spike Lee movie, Do The Right Thing.
There are so many contemporary accounts of Greekfest. This one from a police blog.
“I was living in Va. Beach when we had the riots. It started off as 'Greekfest' whereby mostly black fraternities would come to the Beach every Labor Day. Thousands of young college age people would pack the Beach oceanfront every year (mostly students from historically black colleges, such as Norfolk State, Hampton, Howard, etc.)
“The crowds got rowdier and larger, the year of the riots the crowd was estimated at 100,000. Anyway, some drunken student fell from a balcony and when the ambulance responded a crowd that had formed began throwing bottles and other debris.”
“The crowds began throwing rocks through store windows and looting the stores. Cars would pull up and everyone would jump out and do a 'smash and grab’.'
Flash forward to 2013:
Reporters had trouble describing the epic racial violence and hostility that 40,000 black people brought to Virginia Beach in April of 2013. So let’s start here: Black College Beach Week was organized by black people, for black people, promoted by black people, on black radio stations, at black colleges.
They sent buses to pick up members of black fraternities and sororities. And they brought them all to Virginia Beach. And they raised holy, violent, unapologetic, race-conscious hell.
Or as WTKR TV described the week: “Guns, knives, fights: Complete chaos.” Much of it was on video. Even so, every step of the way, local politicos and media types tried to minimize and deny the violence and who was responsible. Let’s get a snapshot of what this rolling race riot looked like.
The family of Anas Harmache owns a restaurant in Virginia Beach. He posted a video on his Facebook page that captured some of black mob violence when dozens of people stormed his business.
“These guys destroyed my family's store, beat a kid senseless, and put my dad's life in danger,” said Harmache. “When I called the cops not one person showed up.”
Rick Kowclewitch owns a surf shop in Virginia Beach. He told WAVY TV news that he saw things get “unbelievable” and “real ugly” around 10:00 p.m. He heard gunshots, saw violence, and commended the police for doing a great job despite being overwhelmed by this ocean of criminal activity. “I experienced this back in 1989 and this was the same magnitude.”
“It was a nightmare, I’m surprised no one got killed down here,” said George Smith, another business owner. He said college-age kids were out of control.”
"It was just so crazy," said bar owner Baldwin to the local ABC affiliate. "We actually had a fight break out in front of my business at Sandbar that the crowd busted in and broke my front window. So that's a thousand dollars per window."
On Fox43 news, a black woman said mayhem and lawlessness at Black Beach Week is nothing to worry about. "I think it's still fun," said Kharizma Jackson. "It happens when you get a lot of people together this stuff happens everywhere you go. It's like that."
Black mob violence is normal. Funny how often I hear that. Funny how often no one disagrees.
Others took to Facebook and the local news sites to say what the local reporters could not. Or would not.
“Because it was a group of young black college people, everyone is scared to say anything for fear of being called a racist,” Johnson said in a post to a news story at the Virginian-Pilot.
Conscious of the paper’s history of deleting comments that refer to race, Mark Morrell testified anyway:
“PSA: There were no persons of any other race on the videos perpetrating those crimes. None. Not stealing the bikes, or starting the brawls, or any other illegal, crazy action. Have I mentioned any race at all? Nope!!! Because you know exactly what I'm talking about, I most certainly don't have to. You can identify me all you want, I'm not scared, and I don't hide behind my screen -- or my newspaper. There is an elephant in the room, Pilot. WHATCHAGONNADOOOOO ABOUT IT???”
But last weekend, there were no links. No videos of large-scale black mob violence because the fellas and their lovely ladies from the ten or so black colleges within driving distance large stayed home.
Put off perhaps, by the $280 tickets.
But the older white folks showed up. So much so, the crowd often resembled a gathering of parrot heads from a Jimmy Buffett scene.
They enjoyed well known white acts such as Dave Matthews, Gwen Stefani, Maggie Rogers, Mac DeMarco and others. Hell, even Deepak Chopra was there -- and listening to new age spirit guides of Indian descent is about as white as it gets.
Not that they totally whitewashed (to borrow a phrase from the New York Times) the event. The ever-reliable guide to black people, Rolling Stone magazine, described the main act thusly:
“Billed simply as “Pharrell and Friends,” the 90-minute set found Williams dipping into all aspects of his 27-year career, opening with N.O.R.E’s “Nothin,” Nelly’s “Hot in Herre,” Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” and Future’s “Move That Dope” before introducing Snoop Dogg for “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Snoop stayed onstage for the crowd-friendly “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” before enlisting Wilson for the trio’s 2002 hit “Beautiful.””
They served up a reliable concoction of songs about guns, drugs, money, bitches, oral sex, and murder. And just to keep it real, the Snoop Dog song that Rolling Stone called “crowd friendly,” a song that even talked about killing cops.
The lyrics are hard to listen to, but easy to find.
But all the violence was confined to the high-end sound systems of the aging millionaires of hip hop and the imaginations of the older white folks passing around joints and swaying from side to side.
No horse killing. No looting. No shooting.
They are already planning next year’s event. Instead of Black College Beach Weekend, how about something more accurate: ‘Older White Folks, Smoking Dope, Not Causing Any Trouble’ weekend.
You can follow Colin Flaherty on Twitter, hear him on his podcast, or learn more about the mayhem at Virginia Beach in his scintillating bestsellers.