This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things: Orange Crushed

Savannah. Home to midnight in the garden of good and evil. One of America’s brokest cities.

The city is 55 percent Black.

Orange Crush: Black Spring Break in 95 percent white Tybee Island

Nearby Tybee Island is a popular tourist destination and a surprising pleasant beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Well, it’s a pleasant place to be unless you happen to visit during “Orange Crush.” What Freaknik (major post on this coming after the finishing of A Man in Full and another book on the subject) was to Atlanta, Orange Crush is to Tybee Island:

Orange Crush started more than a decade ago. Intended as an end-of-the-year bash for Savannah State University students, partygoers covered Tybee in sea of orange, a school color.But what was once a university-sanctioned party has since taken on a life of its own. It’s now a word-of-mouth event — with no official promoters or organizers. 

Young people flock from hours away to walk the beach, cruise the strip and have a good time.

Many residents and businesses on the mostly white island don’t like it. They say the Orange Crush crowd — mostly African American — is too big, too lewd and too much of a nuisance.Students say they’re just blowing off steam and spending money like other tourists.Police, meanwhile, are stuck in the middle, trying to control the thousands of vehicles that snake toward the island community for two days. 

Not So Fun In The SunTybee likes a good time.Summer sun brings people out by the thousands each weekend and everybody gets soaked at the annual beach bums parade. But residents like Michael Hosti see Orange Crush differently than other holidays.“It’s so bad that anything you take in, in extra sales, you lose in theft,” said Hosti, who owns Tybee Market IGA, the island’s only supermarket. 

This year, Hosti is hiring two security guards to police his property on Saturday because he only wants customers in the small lot.He also hopes the guards will deter petty crimes that cost him an estimated $1,100 last year, even though he closed the store three hours early.The storeowner said last year he found six separate boxes of Tampax opened, with a few tampons missing from each. People took bites out of fruit and snacked from jars of pickles while they shopped, then didn’t pay, he said. Security cameras caught people flashing. Broken beer bottles littered the parking lot.

The Savannah Morning News reported on April 22 that this year Orange Crush left Tybee Island residents (95 percent white) feeling anything but green:

Kathryn Williams, who coordinates the regular clean-ups with the beautification association, said she hopes the attention to litter garnered by an online video showing the trash lining the beach after Saturday’s Orange Crush raises awareness of the issue and results in beachgoers doing a better job of cleaning up after themselves, instead of just focusing on blaming a single event. 

“Litter is a huge issue that deserves a lot of attention,” she said.
So far, much of the response to the video has been aimed at ending Orange Crush.
An online petition and Facebook page to end the Orange Crush gathering has garnered more than 1,000 signatures. 

But littering is not the only reason residents and visitors have to complain. 

According to Tybee police, officers were dispatched during the event to 78 calls for service, with 55 incident reports generated and 18 arrests, including six felony drug charges, one investigation into the discharge of firearms and one high-speed chase.
Fortunately, none of the incidents resulted in anyone being killed or injured, said Police Chief Bob Bryson. 

While Orange Crush is often characterized as Savannah State University’s spring break, the event is not sponsored or condoned by the university or any student organization.

Some of my favorite memories involve being at Tybee Island and venturing over to The Crab Shack. Rarely would one see a Black person. Rarely.

The Marietta Daily Journal published an editorial on the event that hilariously pointed out the Orange Crush event (let’s be honest: it’s an all-Black event) produced far more trash than events – such as fireworks – that are an order of magnitude larger in crowd size:

There’s no ifs, ands or cigarette butts about it. The trash left scattered on a section of Tybee Island’s south beach after the impromptu “Orange Crush” weekend was abominable. Worse, it’s unknown how much of the garbage got washed out to sea during the tide change. Probably a considerable amount, judging by what could still be seen. 

Those who care about “leaving only your footprints behind” at Tybee — a group that should include everyone — were bummed by the YouTube video shot by volunteer clean-up workers near the Tybee Pavilion on Sunday morning. It showed plastic cups, bottles, chunks of Styrofoam coolers, drink cans and other debris littering the sand. It looked more like a landfill than a beach. 

Veteran observers say this litter was the worst they’ve seen in one spot. But it’s not the messiest that Tybee’s public beach gets. That distinction goes to the crowd that attends the July 3 fireworks display, which typically draws tens of thousands of visitors who pack the beach. Their trash is spread out along the shoreline. Last weekend’s trash was concentrated — and thus more noticeable. 

Indeed, the answer to trash on the beach is plenty of garbage cans, plenty of warning signs and plenty of enforcement.

Some have tried to introduce race as a factor, as Orange Crush is the unofficial name attached to annual beach party for young Africans Americans.
That’s misguided.

It’s true that Orange Crush has a bad reputation because of events that go back 15 years. That’s why black colleges and other organizations want nothing to do with it. But it’s also true that anger about Saturday’s trashing should be directed at those who treated the beach like a Dumpster, not an entire group of young people.
This year’s Orange Crush probably caught many people in this area by surprise. That’s because it’s largely spread by word of mouth and social media. Unless you’re plugged into that network, you didn’t know it was coming.

Thus there’s no one to really pin this on — other than the slobs who didn’t pick up after themselves.

No estimate on the size of Saturday’s crowd was available. But previous Orange Crushes have attracted from 4,000 to 7,000 people. (By contrast, last year’s fireworks display attracted about 40,000 visitors.)

The trash appeared largely relegated to a block or two area near the pavilion. It was sickening to behold. Be thankful that the mess was gone after a few hours, as volunteers and city workers pitched in to make it disappear.

Chicken Bone Beach in Pensacola is on the Gulf; to get Orange Crushed, you’d have to head to Tybee Island.

You can have nice things, or… you can have Detroit. In Black-Run America (BRA), you can’t cancel an event that caters to Black people – no matter the violence and the cost to police the event (see the Indiana Black Expo, held in Indianapolis) – so the only choice we are left with is eventually the Detroitization of all of the nation.

For lack of a better term, America (not just Tybee Island) is being Orange Crushed.



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