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August 07, 2016

On Blast's home-going ceremony day, people still talking about dueling obits

Vlogger from Kentucky offers memorable YouTube take on Leroy Black's high-profile death notices

Obituaries Families
Leroy back dueling obits Source/Greenidge Funeral Home

A funeral for Leroy 'Blast' Bill Black, 55, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., will be held Sunday in Atlantic City.

Since Friday, a lot of people have asked whether I’d cover Blast’s funeral. You know, the services in Atlantic City for Leroy Black, a South Jersey man whose death prompted death notices placed in a newspaper from both his “loving wife” and “long-time girlfriend.”

The attention avalanche sparked by our story ultimately led to a decision against such coverage.

Blast’s family and friends deserved time to mourn amongst themselves (especially based on some of the comments (see here and here, and we’ve responded in the hopes of telling more of this story).

Amid the public discourse regarding Blast’s legacy, though, I caught an 11-minute YouTube video posted by “muchlovefromky,” aka Nina Stevenson, a vlogger from Louisville, Kentucky, with some 43,000 subscribers who see her weighing in on – among many topics – Donald Trump, Harambe and Beyonce vs. Becky with the good hair.

The way too profane to be safe for work (WTPTBSFW) commentary – which can be seen here – is best summarized as an oral treatise with quotes including:

“I’d be like two m-----f------ caskets in that m-----f-----” funeral home if I were the wife.”

“Gimme that suit. Bury that m-----f----- in a plastic bag, fill it with water, burn them ashes and bury him in the m-----f------ mud.”

“How the f--- is it going to go when they’re at the repass? Is it gonna be roped off, one side is the wife’s family and children and the other side is the side ho and the offspring she had? Are they gonna be standing at the coffin, one at each end greeting people? … How long is it gonna be before they’re scrapping at the funeral? I just need to know how in the f--- this is gonna go down.”

Strong feelings, for sure, and much of them come from a place of observing this chaos from afar as a married woman herself, amid the “double-edged sword” that is people weighing in on strangers’ lives from the safety of social-media distance.

Stevenson chimed in with Facebook thoughts about those passing judgment on the triangulated obits, but as Blast’s services were just getting underway some 750 miles away from her on Sunday afternoon, she talked to PhillyVoice about what it all means.

So, how’d you find out about this story?

My subscribers will send me links – “MuchLove check this out!” – and I’ll go through and pick and choose. I can’t talk about all of them, so I’ll either do a video, or talk about it on Facebook or Periscope.

For that one, it just needed to be talked about. I couldn’t believe it. The nerve. I had to look into it because I’m not going to talk about something that ridiculous before make sure it’s a real story. When I realized it was, it was, "Are you kidding me?"

The story said it was New Jersey, but this was some Tennessee or Mississippi stuff. Just some South stuff.

What was your initial reaction?

My initial reaction was that they have to be crazy as hell, but I knew I had to analyze it. I had to put myself in both women’s positions. Every scenario. Everything they could have gone through. After doing that, it was still a hot-ass mess. Just ridiculous.

I tried to take the serious route and just said what I meant. I speak to the black community, talking about how some black women have that in their minds: "I’d rather share him than have that exclusivity with one man." But even if he left, and they were separated, the girlfriend was crazy, even if she’d been with him a long time. Either way, it came up crazy as hell and disrespectful.

I wanted to be a fly on the wall (at the services). Whether she took care of him or not, (placing the second death notice) is spiteful as hell. You’re not the wife. There’s no common-law in New Jersey. Some of the children mentioned by the girlfriend are actually nieces or nephews? What are you doing besides being spiteful?

Princess. When I saw that name, I was dead to the bed. No. Not going to go for this. I’m not tryin to put clichés out there, or shed a bad light on my community. But Princess? It just broke me in my head. I got livid and then, you know what? It’s once every blue moon that I do a reaction (video). But it was email after email, email after email, email after email, email after email.

What kind of reaction have you gotten from the YouTube post?

So many emails. So many. One that actually knows the family, and this is where they did my uncle’s (services). Then, another one and another one. It just keeps snowballing.

I don’t think I could stomach talking to the girlfriend. I’m a wife, myself. I respect everybody. Never gonna disrespect anyone. I give you the option (of showing respect) to utilize and respect me back.

Subscribers want me to give them an update, and I have people digging and finding out things. What I’m haggling about is whether it’s appropriate to talk about what’s going on at a Homegoing (Ceremony). I’m still not sure. That’s private. Even though it was listed in the obituaries, there are obituaries in the paper all the time. 

When it comes to invading people’s space when they’re mourning, I know somebody will do it.

Many of the comments and reactions were somewhat racist. Did that give you pause to weigh on it knowing that social-media can be a cesspool of those kinds of reactions?

Eight to 80, Waffle House to the White House, I can speak to anybody. I laughed at Princess. With that said, I’ve gotten a few emails, one in particular asking how I can degrade those black women, that it’s going to make the white folk come in with something to say. What I say to that is go to any trailer park, and you’ll see this or that. 

Did you worry about that? (She asked of the writer, who responded that it was an underlying concern, yes.) I never want to make my community look bad, or feel that way, but those comments, they’re kind of a given. With this case, someone in the comments turned it into something about welfare.

At this point, I believe that’s part of – not the sole part – but it’s unspoken now that we have Donald, the Orange guy, (running for president). I don’t want to think about it, but he’s amplified the cowardice that’s always been there.

Should Princess be there today?

Hell no, Princess should not be there. It’s shameful to even think she would, but given the audacity she has (shown by placing the other obit), she’ll try. No, she shouldn’t. It’s very private. I know there’s a way to keep people out.

What would you say to Blast’s wife if you were there in Atlantic City today?

I would give her my condolences and tell her this too will pass. 

I don’t know that I’d talk to her about the girlfriend. Enough has been said about that. 

If (the wife) kept her cool, I’d commend her for being ladylike and graceful. I’d just give her a hug. She deserves whatever he had left; it’s disrespectful for the girlfriend to get in the way of that. I gotta believe (Princess) was being malicious when she did that. Sit your dumbass down and do what side-hos do: Sit on the side, suss and burn because the wife gets it all.