In its few years of existence, Crystal Good’s “BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian” has crafted almost out of thin air — revived, actually — a Black-oriented press in West Virginia. As its ‘About’ page notes: “We are an emerging news and storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State. We provide a more nuanced portrayal of the Black experience in the Appalachian region.”
As well as publishing a wide-ranging website as you would expect, BBG has accomplished the feat — astonishing for a start-up in today’s shrunken mediascape, yet far more so in West Virginia, by god — of producing a print edition, which Crystal and crew hand-deliver by the thousands across the state.
A third feat? Black By God’s original editorial cartooning has brought to life again in the Mountain State a formally potent tradition. That is to say, the old-school newspaper, draw-truth-to-power heritage of the no-holds-barred, zinger editorial cartoon. When it comes to BBG’s editorial cartoon viewpoint and Joseph Manchin III, the result speaks for itself.
PS: And we really did not commission the “Thanks for the boost!'” cartoon below for this special “Is Joe Manchin the Anti-Byrd” edition of WestVirginiaVille. Apparently, great, upstart, new-media publications think alike. ~ Douglas John Imbrogno, Editor, WestVirginiaVille.com
NOTE TO READERS: Since its founding in May 2020, WestVirginiaVille.com (a project of AmpMediaProject.com), has been a free online magazine of lively, opinionated & alternative writing and imagery about West Virginia. Help us stay in the business of offering ad-free, worthy content. CLICK HERE OR THE ‘DONATE’ BUTTON TO SUPPORT THE CAUSE.
TO FREE SUBSCRIBE: WestVirginiaVille.Substack.com
TO DONATE IN SUPPORT: Here is some love
STORY INDEX: A shorthand guide to the stories in out Manchin-Byrd Special Edition, JUNE 8, 2022
EDITORS/NOTE: ‘The Curious, Confounding Case of Joseph Manchin III’:
Our modest effort at Joe-collation and sprawling, sometimes grouchy commentary is not just to belittle the man, alhough there are roundhouse punches and cranky cartoons, but to appeal in dire days to what’s left of the better angels of Joe Manchin’s nature. Unless they’ve been laid off due to inflation. His — into the Prime Minister of America.
INTRODUCTION: Is Joe Manchin the Anti-Byrd?:
However complicated his life, Robert C. Byrd left a legacy of accomplishment that benefited the state and nation. His career’s end game also set the example of what a senator looks like when they object to America running off the rails. So, a key question about Joseph Manchin III: Is he the Anti-Byrd? Or can he finally rise to the occasion and help rescue the Biden Administration in the midterms?
FIRST/PERSON: Traveling West Virginia’s backroads in the Byrdmobile:
J. MICHAEL WILLARD: “I once worked for a man who had been an Exalted Cyclops in the Ku Klux Klan — and I’m proud of it. Not because he was a Klan member more than three-quarters of a century ago, but because of what he became afterward …”
REFLECTIONS: Ted Boettner on “Status Quo Joe”:
“I don’t think Manchin thinks there is anything fundamentally wrong with business as usual and that the inequality we see today is just and acceptable. Byrd, at least partly, seemed to believe in a higher purpose beyond himself. I don’t see that with Manchin, who seems mostly motivated by financial interests and political gamesmanship.”
Q&A: Author Denise Giardina on comparing Byrd and Manchin
Byrd had “a quality that is too rare in human beings: the ability to continue to learn and grow over time.” With Manchin, “it’s a story as old as Greek tragedy — hubris, hubris, center of attention, power, power, money, money.”
FIRST/PERSON: Lessons learned from the Roman to the U.S. Senate
MARK FERRELL: “A big part of his identity in Washington was being a poor, orphaned son of the Appalachian coalfields, largely self-educated, who rose through the ranks to the world’s most august deliberative body and could match wits with any man in Washington of privileged background and Ivy League pedigree.”
MANCHIN/BYRD COMMENTARY: The word outside of West Virginia
“Byrd rails against the mendacity and militarism of the Bush administration, raising a bold if lonely voice in defense of our civil liberties and national character …”| When confronted by his coal industry ties, “Manchin argued the country needed ‘dependability’ in its sources of energy. In sinking the bill, he has frustrated efforts to definitively move beyond coal.”
CARTOONERY: Black By God acidly sketches Joe Manchin’s life & times
‘BLACK BY GOD: The West Virginian’ revives a potent tradition in the state — the zinger, draw-truth-to-power editorial cartoon and Joe Manchin has been a favorite zingee of this “storytelling organization centering Black voices from the Mountain State.”
MANCHIN/BYRD COMMENTARY: The word inside of West Virginia
“Assuming Manchin does not come home to his party on Build Back Better, voting rights, and Roe (a safe assumption at this point), he’ll have lost many more votes on his left side than he could ever hope to pick up on his right … If he doesn’t come back to his own party in really stunning fashion soon, you can expect Joe Manchin will be driving his Maserati to K street, instead of the Capitol, come 2025.”
‘HEY JOE’: Harmonically urging Joe to take climate action
In late 2021, a harmonic convergence of West Virginians came together on the statewide music video “Hey Joe,” urging Joe Manchin to take decisive action on the climate crisis.
DOGGEREL:’ The Ballad of Bobby & Joe’
‘Joe turns out to be, right now, / the guy who stops all bills, / to bring more billions back to West Virginia / and its rolling hills. / And maybe there’s a Byrd somewhere / who’s spinning in its grave, / as Joe keeps sucker-punching bills / the world needs to be saved …’
POETICS: “Appalachian Marie Kondo” by Crystal Good: May 27, 2022: I live in the disorder of a missing mother. / I sit in the middle of my mess. / I hear my mother’s voice: / You don’t need this. / This doesn’t fit. / When was the last time you used this? …
RE/PRINT: ‘Almost Heaven ’Til We Get There’: Black Miners and Blair Mountain: September 10, 2021: “I’m a sixth-generation West Virginian. My children are seventh-generation. My generational claim to Appalachia is subversive. It talks back to cavalier anti-Black stories of poor white redneck hillbillies and to the white people who claim an entire region as their own.”
RE/PRINT: Consuming Blackness in ‘progressive’ West Virginia: May 5, 2021: “White women were laughing and grabbing for bites of sushi off a human body. That imagery doesn’t fade. Instead, it continues to enrage me. It stands as both a metaphor and real evidence of oppression and silence.”
SOCIAL/MEDIA: ‘Wait. Doug Reynolds said what about what on Twitter?!?’: March 4, 2021: The word ‘gobsmacked’ should be used sparingly. It derives from the Irish/Scottish word for mouth — ‘gob’ — so might be transliterated as ‘smacked in the mouth.’ But in slang usage it means to be flabbergasted, astounded or made speechless. I am sure I wasn’t the only West Virginian gobsmacked by a tweet posted by HD Media headman, Doug Reynolds, in response to a tweet by Crystal Good.