Brother Nature Cancelled And Uncancelled In Mere Hours. Twitter Culture Proves It’s Trash

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Brother Nature (Kelvin Peña) pictured with Snickers the Goat (via @COLDGAMEKELV on Twitter)

I’ve written on the topic of cancel culture multiple times now. But I haven’t specifically dealt with the phenomenon of a celebrity’s offensive yet benign social media posts of the past being dug up and exposed.

Yes, benign. As in, not malignant. As in, the person who spent the time to find six-year-old Brother Nature tweets from him as a middle schooler solved no problems and added no net value to anyone’s life.

Here’s what I think of young Kelvin’s tweets:

  • Pretty much any non-White childhood fan of hip-hop has told (or agreed with) a petty, racialized joke about Jay Z’s facial features.
  • The “Women’s rights” punchline to “Wanna hear a joke?” is in the look-at-me-I’m-so-clever starter pack for a reason. It’s simple, played out, and reserved for boys who are just grasping turns of phrase and purging their pubescent asshole-ness at the same time. Even in today’s political climate, I’d be shocked if young teens still weren’t using this one.
  • Most of us didn’t aspire to be Chris Brown after his assault of Rihanna. Nor did we publicly post such desires. But how is that smiley face at the end of the tweet not being interpreted as tongue-in-cheek, as crude as the “joke” may have been?
  • Building off of the tongue-in-cheek observation, I’ve never met a teenager of color—especially from the inner-city, as Kelvin spent a lot of time in Washington Heights—that didn’t find humor in overt racism. It’s part of getting familiar with race relations, learning what’s yours to speak on and what’s best to leave alone. Kinda like kids who test out curse words by incessantly swearing with their friends. Sooner or later, you learn “bitch” lobbed at a girl comes with serious consequences.
    • In Brother Nature’s case, it’s basically never a Latino-American’s place to use the word ‘coon’ like he used to. That being said, we have famous adult POC doing shit like slandering their baby momma in public and using ‘nigger’ (HARD -er) for fun and free of much criticism (s/o Sosa tho I have no complaints).

There’s nothing good about telling sexist jokes, shouting cliché White supremacist shit, or invoking anti-Blackness by comparing Jay Z to a monkey. Also, did you—my 18+ readers—understand the history and presence of anti-Blackness as a middle schooler? Did you and all of your friends go through adolescence without doing things both knowingly and unknowingly insensitive? Have you or anyone you’re closely associated with never done anything as a teen to get a rise out of people?

It’d be one thing if we were trying to protect Brother Nature’s image in light of behavior that caused someone/some people lasting harm (e.g. bullying, assault). But even then, it would only be fair to give Kelvin the young man a chance to account for the actions of Kelvin the boy. Yes, a middle school student can be held responsible for harmful shit they do. Also, a middle school student is highly deserving of compassion, especially when past shortcomings resulted in no one being hurt (aside from some fragile feelings on the TL) and the adult said student grows up to become shows remorse.

Increasingly, “problematic” has become a less empathetic synonym for “flawed.” It’s not okay. If a drop of someone’s childhood behavior is enough to spoil the mural of their life, think about yourself before you discredit a peaceful 20-year-old philanthropic environmentalist of color who gives back to his community and has built a brand on pure joy.

Perhaps the problem is our standard of humanity for famous people if a couple of sarcastic tweets about Nazism from a Latino guy with no record of racist behavior is enough to make a mob rip his character to shreds. We talk about healing, unlearning, and “the work” it takes to live in society while fighting its ills. But to us, a famous person MUST BE a better person. Otherwise, why do they get to be famous, right?? Not even someone with as innocent a hustle as Brother Nature gets a pass when it’s revealed that he was *gasp* not woke in 20fucking11. As a kid.

There is nothing wrong with judging old behavior by new standards. Western society wouldn’t have evolved from slavery, child marriage, and a grip of other ill-principled practices had people not taken a look back and said, “Yeah…nah.” But in the same way communities and nations are allowed to grow and move away from a problematic past, individuals do best when given the chance to do so in their lives. Even adults deserve that chance, let alone someone in the early stages of puberty.

Thankfully, a counterwave of thoughtful defense has fought back the initial wave of reactionary Brother Nature hate over the past several hours on Twitter. While there are times when the greater community corrects itself, Twitter still suffers from its blessing as the pulse of the world. Most people care about being right in other people’s eyes more than they care about being truly right. So, as long as Twitter is based on real-time developments of trending news, hyperpolar love/hate is just a symptom we’ll always have to monitor.

Fuck posting memes and jokes for 15 seconds of clout at someone’s expense. Fuck TMZ for influencing the early tone of this issue by putting “Rampant Racism” in their headline I will not be linking to. And big up Brother Nature, don’t stop being who you are.

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