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The Muck: Poker Twitter Engages Rapper's Accusations of 'Racism'

The Muck: Poker Twitter Engages Rapper's Accusations of 'Racism' 0001
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  • .@stealthmunk made a comment about music. Cue poker twitter battle with rapper @TalibKweli.

Are you regretting 280 characters yet? We are, and it didn't take long.

Saturday morning, after what seemed like a simple tweet about appreciating music even when you don't understand the lyrics, a Twitter storm erupted when Talib Kweli took aim at the poker community. And he wasn't going after the usual controversial figures you might expect.

If you logged onto Twitter mid-storm, you might have been thinking what Vanessa Selbst had the guts (or misfortune) to tweet.

Put a pin in that tweet, because we're coming back to it. For now, though, here's a little background.

The Players

Talib Kweli is an American hip hop artist who has collaborated with the likes of Mos Def, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams. Kweli is known for his strong voice on race-based issues including, but not limited to police brutality.

Justin "Stealthmunk" Schwartz has been grinding the poker circuit for over ten years with his best result coming in the 2015 WSOP Main Event when he placed 14th. As evidenced by his table talk during that run and on his Twitter feed, he is not afraid to speak his mind and doesn't back down from a fight.

While the weekend twitter storm started between Schwartz and Kweli, appearances by Dan O'Brien, Matt Glantz, Justin Bonomo, Selbst, and plenty more followed.

The Tweet That Started it All

An innocent tweet talking about the pure joy of music was interpreted as making excuses by Kweli, and the argument began.

In addition to "bitch," it didn't take long for words like "ignorant," "Nazi," and "racist" to become part of the conversation.

Defending Our Own

When all is said and done, the poker community is family. Sure, we squabble and bicker, but in the end, we'll defend each other when unjustly accused.

In a political climate where civil debate is often thrown to the curb and replaced by who can yell the loudest, O'Brien tried to keep things from getting out of control.

O'Brien even apologized for the emotional nature of his initial tweet.

But that wasn't good enough for Kweli, who seemed to automatically assume anybody voicing an opinion in the thread was racist and ill-informed. He just wanted to fight and be right, while everyone else was "racist" and wrong.

After O'Brien came to Schwartz's defense, Glantz came to O'Brien's.

Defining Racism

Bonomo entered (sort of) the discussion to offer that maybe the problem was with how racism was defined.

It didn't help. It seemed as if things escalated way past a logical explanation. There was way too much emotion and pride involved.

How realistic was it to come in, throw out some definitions, try to get people to see where their differences are and stay out of the conversation? Not very, as Bonomo had to repeat his tweet of not defending the tweets of others several times.

Be Careful What You Tweet

Back to that initial tweet from Selbst. By all accounts, all she was trying to do was figure out what was going on from her tribe. But even she, a trained litigator who is known for standing up against discrimination of all kinds, was pulled down the rabbit hole — against her will.

That initial tweet prompted a quick, curt reply from Kweli.

Kweli Against The Poker World

Green has successfully kept this brawl going for over two days. He made it a "us vs. them" war. He baited people into joining the conversation even when it wasn't their intention and put everyone on the defensive.

And while this whole thing started around a comment appreciating his music, Kweli tried to make it about something much more. For the most part, poker players came to each other's defense and stood up for each other, which seemed to enrage Kweli even more.

The whole conversation has so many threads, side conversations, accusations and denials that it is hard to know what is what anymore.

Glantz summarized it best.

That's the thing about Twitter. It's all fun and games until somebody attacks your character. Then the gloves come off and against our better judgment, we fight to the death.

Lead photo c/o Steve Pisano

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