Inspirational Bloggers: Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us

Header graphic from Black People Love Us
Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

The Top Humor Bloggers Who Inspired Me to Start my Own Blog, Part 3:

Jonah Peretti, Author of Black People Love Us!

I found this parody site back in the mid-2000s, and I never forgot it. It was written from the perspective of a fictitious and wildly naive white couple known as ‘Sally and Johnny,’ who flaunt the adoration they receive from their African-American friends through satirical quotes and photographs. Jonah Peretti wrote this site with a level of sarcasm far beyond anything I’d read online before. He highlighted modern racism through characters who were blissfully unaware of it, and the results were both insightful and hilarious. I read every single page of Black People Love Us in one sitting, and frequently returned in the years that followed.

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us
Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

I’d never really seen such potentially divisive humor online before, and I definitely hadn’t seen it used so successfully. Using satire to highlight a subject like racism takes stones, and Jonah Peretti has great big ones. (I call them Perettiballs.) He made up these two endearingly ignorant characters — Sally and Johnny, who openly stereotype their black friends with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer — and put them out there on the internet as the poster children for modern racism. Not everyone understood his intent, of course, so the site received an impressive amount of hate mail, but Peretti showed no fear whatsoever, and I respected the hell out of that.

Some people took the site literally, and actually thought Sally and Johnny were a real couple, writing about their real black friends. I could not believe this. The hate mail left me dumbfounded. How could someone not get the joke? And how could someone fail to see the value in it? But then I realized something important; there are some serious morons out there, and no matter what you create, no matter how funny, cool, beautiful or insightful it may be, this portion of the population is going to trash it. Maybe they’ll take offense to it — maybe they won’t understand it or simply won’t like it — but the task of humor authors is to make people laugh, and criticism is part of the job. With Black People Love Us, Jonah Peretti taught me a lot about courage — about being unafraid to take chances with humor — and in so doing, gave my writing a big push forward.

Johnny from Black People Love Us
Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Here is a quote pulled from the site’s testimonials section:

“Johnny calls me ‘da man!’ That puts me at ease. It makes me feel comfortable, because I am Black and that’s how Black folks talk to one another.”

Here is another quote, also from the testimonials section:

“Sally’s always saying: ‘You go girl!’ while ‘raising the roof’ to mainstream hip-hop tracks at cheesy bars. That’s fun! I relate to that.”

Sally and Johnny from Black People Love Us
Image courtesy of blackpeopleloveus.com

Black People Love Us was a huge internet hit when it went live, and it continues to thrive after all these years. A true internet pioneer, Jonah Peretti also wrote the massively-forwarded email thread, the Nike Sweatshop Emails, and he is a founding member of BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post. The New York Times called him a “viral marketing hot dog,” (which is a creepily-worded compliment, in my opition, but a compliment all the same). Peretti is a graduate of the MIT Media Lab and a member of the New York based artist group Free Art and Technology Lab (a.k.a. FAT Lab).

Much like The Reverand (sic) Nathan Runkel of Cartoon Girls I Wanna Nail and Robert Hamburger of The Official Ninja Webpage, Jonah Peretti was a major source of inspiration behind my decision to start a blog of my own, and Black People Love Us continues to influence my development as a humor writer to this very day.

You can follow Jonah Peretti on Twitter at @peretti, on Facebook at facebook.com/peretti and on BuzzFeed at buzzfeed.com/jonah.

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22 thoughts

  1. I remember this blog, not sure when I first saw it but though it was hilarious and well done. People don’t read for content and context anymore, they think they know what the message is and they react to that. Gone to peruse it again, thanks.

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  2. Cool! It’s great to see your inspiration. How interesting that some people just don’t “get” it, huh? I guess some people just don’t. I find this is true with some of my posts…I was just trying to be funny, see. Then, I feel like I totally failed, but then you just keep trying and writing away!

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  3. You reminded me of my pre-blog revelation of this genre. My mother complained to my older brother ‘Do you have to play that record in front of the children’. So of course I started really listening and found that Tom Lehrer’s sweet sounding songs such as The Old Dope Pedlar or I Hold Your Hand in Mine had layers of biting information wrapped up in humour. Sadly I am a coward – always fearing my attempts at humour will fail. I will follow and learn. Thank you.

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  4. I remember when I first saw Black People Love Us, got the joke immediately and loved it. I still go back to it to this day, in fact, doing web searches on it this morning led me to your site. Sites like BPLU, MC Hawking, RealUltimatePower, Best Page in the Universe, Pure Pwnage etc. are part of my internet “good old days”.

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  5. “Simon’s Pie Charts” and “Overdue Account” aka “The 7 Legged Spider”. The dude behind those viral email exchanges is the true Godfather of internet trolling. Two – count ’em, TWO – epic examples of chain yanking that lit up the world wide web for weeks. What other human being can lay claim to such a feat? The man is a freak.

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