Talib Kweli Explains Why He’s Not Violating Twitter’s Rules: ‘Calling a Coon a Coon Ain’t an Attack’

AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 12: Rapper Talib Kweli attends Samsung Galaxy presents JAY Z and Kanye West at SXSW on March 12, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung)
Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images for Samsung

Rapper Talib Kweli gave some insight Wednesday into Twitter’s notoriously opaque standards on harassment: he’s allowed to call a black journalist a “coon” as much as he wants because it’s not racist when a black man uses the term.


After Twitter permanently suspended Breitbart Tech editor and Internet prankster Milo Yiannopoulos from its platform, Breitbart News began demanding answers from the company for clearly inconsistent enforcement of its rules on “harassment.” A prime example of this double standard was when Talib Kweli Greene called Breitbart’s own Jerome Hudson a “coon,” leading his followers to dogpile Hudson for sharing his opinion on Black Lives Matter.

Various news outlets have reported that Twitter banned Yiannopoulos for “inciting hate” against actress Leslie Jones while she spent over 13 hours punching down at random trolls in her account’s mentions. The reality of that situation is that Yiannopoulos tweeted some jokes at Jones several hours into her public meltdown that looked suspiciously like a Ghostbusters publicity stunt.

In contrast, Greene targeted Hudson for attack because a video featuring the author was blowing up on social media. Kweli struck first. He immediately called Hudson a “coon.”

Hudson has about 13,000 followers to Greene’s ~1 million, whereas Yiannopoulos and Jones have about the same size following. Greene also has a sympathetic ear at the top of the U.S. government, as President Obama invited him to the White House for a private meeting, among other entertainers, and featured a Talib Kweli track in a Spotify summer playlist last year. There is a much clearer power dynamic in Greene’s harassment of Hudson, yet Twitter took no action against the rapper.

Does Greene really get a pass for racial slurs and directing thousands of hateful tweets at another user because of his race? Twitter has been extremely reluctant to explain its harsh punishment of conservative or just anti-social justice users and leniency with others, so Greene’s explanation — “I can call a black man a coon” — is all we have to go by. And the longer Twitter stays silent, the more that silence looks like an endorsement of his reasoning.


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