We Need to Talk About the 'Twisted Tea' Incident and Why This Story Matters

Illustration for article titled We Need to Talk About the Twisted Tea Incident and Why This Story Matters
Screenshot: Complex/ Twitter

Let me first just say that we at The Root do not promote violence. We believe that you should use your words and that “an eye for an eye leaves everyone’s sticks and stones unturned.” (I don’t think that’s how it goes, but whichever adage means “don’t punch people” is what I’m saying.) We believe that before one resorts to violence, they should ask themselves: What would MLK Jesus do?

With that out of the way...

*clears throat*

Booooooooy, let’s talk about this Black man who both figuratively and literally opened up a can of whoop-ass on this white man who thought his affinity for Black vernacular gave him a free pass to say “nigga” around niggas without catching all manner of hands.


Let’s just get right down to it: I heard “nigga” seven times.

A “violence is never the answer”-ass nigga would probably argue that the Black man could have simply walked away from the white man who appeared to be drunk AF and was possibly emboldened by his inebriation. I, on the other hand, would argue that a nigga who lets a white man say “nigga” at least seven times before busting his head to the even-whiter white meat has shown tremendous restraint.

“Fuck my momma, nigga? Fuck my momma? Fuck your momma, nigga,” Eminem’s stunt double can be heard saying in a now-viral video taken by a bystander.

“And you know what’s crazy? I’mma walk to you. Right to my house for you. On God,” he said in a way that, even if you had your eyes closed, you could still tell how absolutely white he is. (Also, in my experience a lot of white people who use AAVE in the streets still sound like Howdy Doody when they’re at home speaking to their parents.)


“I’m not trying to disrespect you,” Machine Gun Smelly continued.

“Then stop saying it,” the Black man who is already way better than me responded.


“I’ma say nigga all day, every day,” Vanilla Lice replied. “Are you kidding me? Where you from, nigga?”

Anyway, fast forward to after about three more n-words and the Black man can be seen picking up a can of Twisted Tea and Aggy Azealia can be heard repeatedly daring him to smack him with it.


Now, a “stop the violence, increase the peace”-ass nigga might argue that just because discount Gary Owens kept asking for it doesn’t mean the Black man needed to smack him with the can of tea and then punch him a few times after Wacklemore’s pathetic attempt at fighting back. I, on the other hand, would argue that all the Black man did was honor a white man’s request by delivering the goods quicker than Amazon Prime.

Thanks to Twitter, the Black man also inadvertently gave Twisted Tea better advertising than it likely could have paid for.


Now let’s get into why this story matters.

A “we shouldn’t use the word either”-ass nigga would join the chorus of culturally oblivious white people in arguing that if Black people want white people to stop using the word, we should set an example by not using it ourselves. People who go there always believe they’re making the most logical argument, but here’s the thing: Fuck that.


First of all, I’ve seen enough Martin Scorsese movies to know that Italians, Irish folk and plenty of other ethnic groups use their own slurs among each other fairly commonly while expecting outsiders to refrain from using them. But like many things in America, shit doesn’t get controversial until Black people do it.

“Nigga”—when coming out of a Black person’s mouth—carries various connotations that range from the endearing “my nigga” to the significantly less endearing “bitch-ass nigga.” However we use it, there’s no implied racism. The point is, there’s cultural context at play here that most white people wouldn’t understand and they would do well to simply respect the history involved and keep the word out of their mouths.


Or whatever, let them keep saying the word and keep catching hands, cans and other methods of violence—which again, The Root absolutely does not promote.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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I stopped breathing at Vanilla Lice and straight up died at Wacklemore. Good god that was beautiful.