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Chris Pepus, In Memoriam
A Collection of Chris’s Contributions

By todd
Tuesday, July 28 2015

“Thank You.” is the title of the most heartbreaking email I’ve ever received.
The email was from Chris Pepus, a decade-long contributor to Razorcake. I emailed him back. I called him. His voicemail picked up. I called contributor Tim Jamison in St. Louis. Tim’s first reaction mirrored my most hopeful thoughts. Perhaps I read it incorrectly. Maybe Chris wanted to take a break from writing. It happens. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. I asked Tim to pop by Chris’s apartment.

People who decry Razorcake as “non-political” just prove to me they don’t read it carefully. One chamber of our political heart is Chris Pepus. He’s also part of the invisible scaffolding holding up Razorcake, a stalwart contributor who I rely heavily on. He’s deeply concerned with social and economic justice and writes about it extensively. (The most popular story on razorcake.org is Chris’s article “The Murder of Emmett Till.”)

I feel a deep kinship with Chris. We both went to public school. We are both working class. We both believe in the power of education but struggle with institutions of higher education. We are both equalists, critical thinkers, and leftists. We both see that America is entrenched in full-scale class war. All of his articles are fearless, compassionate, controlled, and information-rich. Nowhere else is anyone writing and publishing sentiments like, “Elite liberals will probably never realize how absurd they look fervently waving the banner of diversity while relentlessly enforcing class privilege,” and then back it up with a string of unimpeachable facts. Chris’s article “Class Bigotry in Higher Education” does just that (without being a blowhard, kneejerk Republican douchebag about it). Chris wants to change the world with his writing, to right some of the wrongs of “hate crime[s] against working-class people.” It sounds grandiose, but it’s not untrue.

A difficult byproduct of being truly independent is the risk of being largely ignored. With no corporate backing and not being a node under a parent company or a larger institution, Razorcake has limited reach. We try the best we can with the tools and resources we have. In a nutshell, Razorcake is neither rich nor well-connected. Our currency is treating our contributors and their contributions with the utmost respect.

Recently, Chris focused his attention on his blog “Against Class Bigotry.” It wasn’t a hollow gesture. Chris uncovered that his employer, WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, was complicit in class bias for rich legacy students while cooking the books to outwardly appear more diverse. In protest, Chris recently resigned from his position as film archivist at the university. He received a classist, condescending email from Jane Karr, the Education Life Editor at the New York Times for the paper’s errors and misleading articles on college social diversity: “Good luck with any new ventures. We see you’ve quit your job over this statistic, but we are comfortable with what we’ve written.” Candice Tobin recently did a podcast with Chris about his travails.

Tim Jamison was a couple hours out of St. Louis but had a buddy who lived two blocks away from Chris go by his apartment to see what was up. Police tape and a neighbor confirmed the worst.

The email Daryl, Candice, and I received that morning was a suicide letter. Chris thanked us for everything; assured us it wasn’t our fault. In the evening of Monday, June 9, 2015, Chris Pepus took his own life. The email was sent after he committed a deliberate act. His mind was made up. He didn’t want anyone attempting to talk him out of it.

Now go back to the beginning of this editorial and put Chris in the past tense. I can’t. I start crying all over again.

No matter how much I try, none of the songs I’m listening to have brought him back, but my family and friends have been phenomenal, checking in on me. “I’m okay,” I keep telling myself. I’m okay, but a part is missing.

Rest in peace, Chris.
–Todd Taylor

Interview with Chris Pepus
Interview with Chris Pepus – Against Class Bigotry Podcast: Razorcake Podcast By Candice Tobin

Columns by Chris Pepus
King George in Decline: The Misadventures of an Aging Prep-School Cheerleader

Class Bigotry in Higher Education

Wall Street’s President: It’s great to see rage directed at the right targets.
The FBI Report On the Murder of Emmett Till

Emmett Till Case Update: Mississippi Grand Jury Refuses To Indict

The Bloodstained Lies of Christopher Hitchens

Vote Green, Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala

The White-Trash Scapegoat: Contempt for white trash is a point of bipartisan agreement.

The Budget Crisis and Other Swindles: Part 1

The Budget Crisis and Other Swindles: Part 2

On the Worthlessness of Politically Correct Liberals

Interviews by Chris Pepus
The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till: An Interview with Documentarian Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp

Interview with Greg Palast: Investigating Electoral Theft

Interview with Danny Schechter: The Sub-Prime Problem

An Interview with Investigative Journalist Greg Palast

Interview with Danny Schechter: The Economic Crisis

Live Reviews by Chris Pepus
What He Sees: Henry Rollins’s Spoken Word Tour, by Chris Pepus

Book Reviews by Chris Pepus
Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States By Deal W. Hudson, 384 pgs.

Vultures’ Picnic by Greg Palast, Dutton Books, 404 pgs.

Film and DVD Reviews by Chris Pepus
China Blue: DVD

Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story (Film)

Introductions to Book Excerpts by Chris Pepus
An Excerpt from Greg Palast's Billionaires & Ballot Bandits Book, Introduction by Chris Pepus

Read an excerpt from Greg Palast’s new book, Vultures’ Picnic, Introduction by Chris Pepus

Class Bigotry in Higher Education: Chris Pepus examines the class inequality pervasive throughout America’s colleges. Chris takes to task enrollment biases, hereditary wealth, and social profiling. Class discrimination is an overlooked problem in the college admittance practices. Written with both insider academic knowledge and a punk’s eye for bullshit, Chris demystifies the class bigotry found at every level in the conversation regarding higher education. Here’s the full article.
Here’s the PDF.

Expand Civil Rights to Include Social Class
The erudite Chris Pepus makes a point that is often overlooked in discussions of civil rights. Class is an identity just like race or sex, perhaps less obvious, but integral to the civil rights dialectic. Chris calls for improved civil rights legislation to combat the inequalities that Americans face in their daily lives. “Civil rights laws have proven effective against unequal treatment based on race, sex, religion, and national origin. We must expand those laws to prohibit unequal treatment based on social class.” Boom.
Here’s the PDF.

War and the American Elite by Chris Pepus. Chris attacks the American elite and their justifications for war. Framing the conversation with a critical look at how most leading journalists are alumni of prestigious private colleges and universities, he dismantles the rhetoric and illusions behind the Iraq war. A compelling and well-researched read.
Here’s the PDF.

Keith Beauchamp: Interview by Chris Pepus. Chris talks with the guy who made the documentary The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till, about a fourteen-year-old black boy who was lynched in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
Here’s the PDF.

Ultraman: Interview by Chris Pepus. No, not the herky-jerky Japanese action show, this Ultraman is the mid-‘80s St. Louis punk band, still alive and kicking.
Here’s the PDF.

Ann Coulter Isn’t a Nice Lady: Article by Chris Pepus. A quick analysis of the stupefying logic behind infamous, well-to-do conservative mouthpiece Ann Coulter, author of the best-selling books Slander and Treason. Chris examines her viewpoints on American foreign policy in places like Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Chile, and the Middle East.
Here’s the PDF.

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