Brooklyn-rapper Talib Kweli Greene was locked out of his account on Twitter after refusing to delete the contact information of a Texas lawyer, who at one point posted several racially motivated tweets.
The outspoken recording artist, entrepreneur, and social activist was eventually reinstated, but not before receiving threats from the social media platform to suspend him.
Talib said that Twitter claims he “incited harassment” by posting the information, but he argues that he “incited accountability.”
In response to Twitter’s removal and reinstatement of his account, Talib Kweli graciously agreed to speak with Salute Magazine about how the social media platform’s unwritten standard could potentially be silencing those speaking out about social injustice.
SALUTE: What needs to change with Twitter in order for it to be more understanding of the complexities of discrimination?
TALIB: Twitter employees in Silicon Valley seem to be generally unaware of how context affects online interactions with white supremacists who target people for harassment, which is ironic because the message you get back from Twitter when they feel that someone was unfairly reported is “context matters.”
The fact remains, from Twitter CEO Jack on down, Twitter employees have had to apologize to me personally for at least seven different occurrences of them either failing to properly deal with a user I reported or for penalizing me for something that did not break TOS [Terms of Service].
This shows me that these people don’t understand context at all, much less critical race theory or sociology. They lack proper training and they are far more concern with the reputation of the company than they are with the safety of the community.
S: In what ways was Twitter wrong for having removed you from social media?
TALIB: Businesses and business owners should be held accountable by communities they serve for things they say and do in the community, especially those business owners who claim to be defense attorneys like Van Dyke did.
A defense attorney should be equipped to represent all manner of people. A defense attorney who spends his spare time online threatening to “lynch niggers” and murder children while posting pictures of guns and calling people “autistic faggots” can’t adequately defend anybody.
The community has a right, no a need, to know this mans contact info so they can file grievances. I found said info on a website run by the Texas State Bar called “findalwayer.com,” which tells me dude wanted to be found. I didn’t dox this man. The reason I looked is because he invited me to after threatening to shoot me.
Furthermore, [the attorney] Van Dyke had previously posted this same info himself on his TL (timeline), for the purpose of inviting people to contact him and complain. By locking my account, because I chose to hold a business owner accountable for very violent racist threats, Twitter essentially protected and enabled that person.
S: Can you please provide those that don’t “get it” the reasoning behind why such an accomplished artist would dedicate so much of his time to standing up for his beliefs on such a public platform?
TALIB: If I don’t who will? I’m built for this. I have the knowledge, the experience, the information and the platform to provide a voice for the voiceless.
This Van Dyke has been a serious threat for years. Maybe now that I’ve made him famous he can be disbarred for real. We must know who our enemies are before they cause harm, not after. Ignoring the racists and the trolls are what got us Trump in the White House and Nazis marching in the streets, murdering people while saluting Trump.
We don’t have the luxury of ignoring online bigotry in the digital age. It’s foolish and deadly. Nelson Mandela said, “fools multiply when wise men remain silent.” I live by that.
S: Do you think Twitter’s double standard is an issue for users?
TALIB: Twitter, just like any other business in America, enables white supremacy by default. They have to be fair, they can’t boot or penalize users just for being mean, but because most Americans don’t understand bigotry and its dog whistles, Twitter employees mistake defense against white supremacy for bigotry and defend bigots against reasonable accusations of bigotry.
It’s all about education. But Twitter is not putting morals or education first. They are terrified of the alt-right, ethane nationalist Nazi backlash they will get if they really start purging these people. They are worried about how not letting obvious white supremacists tweet away will affect their bottom line.
They know Twitter has become a hub for white supremacists, so they are focused on profit under the guise of fairness or free speech. They are a private company, they can do what they want. They should just stop pretending we don’t see it though. I’m glad Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler are no longer verified, but I want answers on why they were verified in the first place.
S: Has Twitter become a resource for the alt-right and white supremacy?
TALIB: All social media can be resources for white supremacists. But they [can] also be resources for the resistance too. We just have to be willing to put in the time the racists do. White supremacists don’t stop. We cant and we won’t either.
FOLLOW TALIB KWELI GREENE: @TALIBKWELI