The Tea About the Tea: One Man’s Take on the Slap Heard Round the World
For the last week or so, I have been seeing memes about Twisted Tea. At first, I thought it was a Four Loko kinda thing, referencing the amount of alcohol in it or something. After all, that seems like something the children would be into these days. Then I saw the video. Y’all!!!! That was the smack heard round the world…wow…That was…what can I say, other than wow? I mean, if anybody wanted a one-minute summary of 2020, that video would pretty much cover it. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: From the course of events, I’m guessing this all happened in a bodega somewhere in NYC, probably Brooklyn. There’s a young white dude (unmasked, so you already know he’s an asshole) who apparently studied at Eminem’s School of Cultural Appropriation and Tragic White Male Fragility constantly battering a possibly black/possibly latinx man (Leave me alone. It’s a black and white store security video, and he’s wearing a mask.) with the word “nigga” (You know, without the hard “r”, so you KNOW he’s not racist.) From the conversation, it’s clear that the possibly black/possibly latinx man has asked Chad not to say the word. Not only that, but Chip actually employs the oldest move in the Colonizers’ Handbook, loudly exclaiming, “Where you from, nigga?!?!” Furthermore, Chip goes on to say, “Smack me, nigga.” Are we at all surprised that the possibly black/possibly latinx man picked his Twisted Tea up off the floor and gave that muthafucka exactly what he had asked for? The Gentrifier quickly sprang up from the floor, ready to fight, and the possibly black/possibly latinx man just as quickly beat. That. Ass. Chet got five very firm fists to the face in as many seconds, all the while, the possibly black/possibly latinx man said, “Call me another nigga”. Then the possibly black/possibly latinx man got Chad in a restraint hold and repeatedly asked, “Are you good?” After he let Chet go, he said, “I asked you not to call me a nigga.”
There is so much to unpack here, I really don’t know where to start. But before we begin, I just want to say that I don’t advocate for violence. That’s why I didn’t link the video. However, for those of you that that enjoy Jerry Springer-esque antics, you can google “Twisted tea viral video”. It’s okay. I’ll wait.
Meanwhile, I will say this: Even though I don’t condone violence, I understand it. We are dealing with the effects of 400 years of violent racial oppression. It would be both foolish and naïve to believe that this would miraculously be peacefully resolved. Not only that, but there is a blood debt, and blood will have blood. On the other side of that, there’s a certain level of entitlement that has only grown over the years. The end result is that you have one group of people who think they can treat certain people like shit and suffer no consequences, and another group that has been nursing an ever-expanding grudge for four centuries. There is no world in which those two points of view find a happy ending.
With that in mind, white friends, I have decided to take this moment to give you a crash course in how to get along in the 21st century.
1. All that privilege you think you have, you don’t. Yeah, that is definitely some last-millineum-ish. We are not here for you to hold forth on whatever topic that you think you need to school us in, especially if it’s something that we already know about. So all of you white dudes who want to tell us about racism, have a seat. This is not your moment. I recently talked with a friend about intergenerational trauma and how it can be passed down through DNA. This could lead to us having a spirited debate about how the experiences of one’s ancestors could influence one’s actual DNA and their experience of the world, but I am just gonna say no, we don’t need to go that deep. Just know that my grandparents had to wade through a toxic ocean of racist bullshit, and I simply refuse to follow in their footsteps. Just no. You might have things to say about that, but please understand the number of fucks I don’t have to give about that. In fact, I have so few, I don’t even know how to talk about my dearth of giveable fucks. On the topic of your rights, I have reached a dearth of fucks that is previously unseen on this earth. Have a fucking seat.
2. You don’t have a right to the word “nigga”. That goes for “nigger”, “nigga” and any variant in between. That word is emblematic of the very worst horrors that have been imposed upon black people. The whole topic of trying to reclaim the word is complicated but irrelevant to THIS conversation. At the end of the day, YOU have no right to that particular word, and it doesn’t matter which version you use. If a black person uses it, that’s their prerogative, and it’s one that you do not possess. I know that it bothers you not to have access to something, but if this bothers you, I encourage you to ask yourself why. Chances are, if you do, you might find that you are not nearly as good a person as you previously thought.
3. As America’s Token Black Friend, I know that whiteness is a helluva drug, and it’s very possible that the power of toxic whiteness is too strong, and you may choose to ignore points 1 and 2. With that in mind, I have put together a list of warning signs, so you know what to expect when dealing with POC, and can possibly escape Chad’s fate, in spite of your own raging caucasity. So, I have chosen to share with you a few scientific facts. Just as creatures in nature have neon colorings to convey that they are poisonous, POC also display certain warning signs.
a. Silence. White friends, if you are ever in an argument with a black or latinx person, and they just stop responding, I get how you can take that as a victory. Don’t do that. This is anything but a win. This means that they have decided that talking to you is a waste of their time. Given that fact, you should be afraid. There are a few possible things that could follow this silence, and a Twisted Tea to the skull is definitely on the list. Exercise extreme caution.
b. Smile. If a black or latinx person smiles at you in the midst of a disagreement, Molly, you in danger girl. This smile is not meant in the spirit of friendship, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. This smile usually translates to “This bitch doesn’t know who I am”. Please understand, we place a high priority on people acknowledging our existence and our specific humanity. When that doesn’t happen, things can very easily go south. This lack of recognition leads us to the desire to introduce ourselves. If a black or latinx person that you already know feels the need to introduce themselves to you or let you know who they REALLY are, please know that you have fucked up. And this is not a small fuck up. This is one of those things that ends up with Old Testament level consequences. Please believe that if you make a black or latinx person introduce themselves, you could quite possibly wake up the next day missing an appendage. I don’t know why we take introductions so seriously, I just know that that’s the way it is.
c. Head shake. If you see a POC shake their head while you’re talking, and you haven’t asked a yes/no question, here’s what you should do: Stop talking, maintain eye contact, and slowly back away. If you follow these three steps, you’ll be fine. If you don’t…well, we all make choices in life, right?
d. Head shake with smile. Please understand, this is the most dangerous version of the head shake. This is literally the moment before you receive an open-handed slap in the mouth at the very least, but in this age of masks, this is one of the hardest signs to detect. My suggestion is that you should assume every head shake includes a smile. This really is the best way to avoid unexpected asswhoopings.
e. The lowered head inhale. This is actually the sign seen in the video. White friends, believe me when I tell you that this is LITERALLY your last chance to de-esculate the situation. This is the moment that the POC, regardless of religious affiliation, is talking to god. This is a moment of divine prayer. This is the moment that they are asking for patience in the face of caucasity. You really should take this for the moment of grace that it is and STFU. If you can’t bring yourself to do that…well, like I said before, we all make choices.
In conclusion, white friends, I would like to just encourage you to check yourselves. Our society was literally built around your comfort, but the people who have sacrificed their comfort for your sake are at a breaking point. Your happiness is no longer the center of the universe. The people that have been historically ignored are done being silent, and they are demanding equal time and equal importance. I get that this feels like an attack, and it feels like you’re losing something. In response to that, I urge you to think of how you would feel if you never had these privileges but instead had to watch them be consistently be given to others. Hopefully, you’re empathetic enough to understand that and modify your behavior accordingly. If not, there’s plenty of tea to go around.