Socialist Twitch Streamer Banned For Calling White People ‘Cracker’

Socialist Twitch Streamer Banned For Calling White People ‘Cracker’
Photo: Joshua Blanchard, Getty Images

Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch considers “cracker” a serious racial slur, a fact many only learned this week after socialist streamer Hasan Piker and others were banned for saying it. This latest bizarre moderation decision comes months after protests for Twitch’s failure to protect streamers of colour for racism and harassment.

The ban wave began with Piker’s mods who were removed after using the words in chat earlier this week. Some of Piker’s fans considered the term hateful and out of line. Piker did not. “I’ve been called ‘cracker’ more times than every single one of you fucking pasty little cracker bitches in my chat, ok?” he said at one point.

After Piker came to his mods’ defence, he was also hit with a ban starting on December 13. Whether or not cracker should be a bannable offence was catapulted into discourse, meaning that streamers like Ian “Vaush” Kochinski started using the term in their commentary on the controversy — only to also get banned for it. Another streamer, Fawn, was also recently banned from Twitch, and wrote on Twitter that she believed it was for the same reason.

The term cracker dates back to at least Shakespeare, and was historically deployed against poor white people and immigrants by other white people. At some point last century it started also being used specifically by Black people against racist white people. Now, as the far right tries to fuel racist panics wherever it can keep its stranglehold over this country, culture warriors have tried to elevate cracker into an anti-white slur as offensive as any other racial epithet. The problem, of course, is that racism refers to overarching power structures, not if an innocuous word made you feel bad. Nor is “cracker” equivalent to words historically used to subjugate and literally harm BIPOC.

Twitch’s community guidelines bans any and all hateful conduct, but is ambiguous on what it does or doesn’t count as hateful when it comes to certain racialized phrases. “We do not make our list of slurs public so as not to enable or facilitate evasion of this policy,” the guidelines state. “Further, we take context into account when evaluating whether use of a slur violates our policies.”

“‘Cracker’ being a bannable offence is so hilariously deranged. just placating the most fragile manchildren in the world who themselves know they’re just feigning outrage over nothing,” wrote Twitter power user Zei Squirrel.

Twitch did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The platform taking firm action against the use of cracker comes after loads of criticism earlier this year, and arguably since Twitch’s inception, of failing to take the safety concerns of creators of colour seriously, particularly for Black streamers. Over the summer, users made use of Twitch’s raid feature to flood the chats of Black and marginalised streamers with a range of abusive language, including slurs.

The rise of these hate raids, and Twitch’s slow response to dealing with them, led to the rise of a #TwitchDoBetter hashtag and an eventual all-day boycott by some streamers on September 1. Later that month, Twitch reportedly sued at least two of the people behind some of the hate raids as part of a larger response to addressing some of the platform’s shortcomings.

This is only the third time Hasan has been banned from the platform. One previous instance occurred after he said that “America deserved 9/11” because of its past history of foreign wars and human rights abuses.


  • I’m sure this comment section is about to be filled with well-reasoned and calmly stated opinions. It definitely won’t be a bunch of anti-progressive backlash from conservatives who keep coming to Kotaku just to get angry.

  • What I’m gathering from Ethan’s characterisation of this whole shebang is that, when people say racism isn’t conducive to a healthy society, what they mean is that only racism towards their designated groups isn’t good.

    You want racism to be eliminated a la smoking, but you also want to keep it alive? That’s such a great idea, until people start realising the double-standards you want to impose.

    “The problem, of course, is that racism refers to overarching power structures, not if an innocuous word made you feel bad. Nor is “cracker” equivalent to words historically used to subjugate and literally harm BIPOC.”

    I’m sure that the Sri Lanka’s continuing genocide of the Tamil minority is fully justified, ‘yass queeeen’, because the Tamils were previously embedded in the British colonial system and – according to them – given preferential treatment over the non-Tamil minorities.

    Get off the internet gweilo, no more white devils should be allowed online, not even to grab a Linux distro. You should to go to Asia and be a paid white monkey for their gaming news rags.

  • // The problem, of course, is that racism refers to overarching power structures, not if an innocuous word made you feel bad. //
    No, the absurd power structure argument is actually only a fairly recent attempt to redefine the whole fuckin’ word. All so certain groups can run around doing all sorts of vile shit and claiming it can’t be racism because the groups they’re targeting are either white or more privileged than them.

    Onto the issue at hand… I’m by no means a fan of Hasan, but I think it is INSANE he got banned for this. As a white guy, I think this is absolutely a stretch to say it is even in the same universe as other racial slurs.

    • “As a white guy, I think this is absolutely a stretch to say it is even in the same universe as other racial slurs.”

      So you’re admitting it’s a racial slur…and twitch doesn’t allow people to use racial slurs.

      • I’m actually sort of on the fence over it.

        I’ve never personally taken it that way, but I can see how others might.

      • Also from what I saw of the discussion Hasan was having it’s not like he was rambling on just saying it over and over for no reason, he was discussing the word and giving his opinion on it.

        When you get banned for trying to have a discussion about a word, its meaning and whether its offensive or not, that’s just some stupid shit enforcement. Sure platforms can enforce however they like, but I can still think it’s moronic.

    • I’m glad you pointed this out. It’s a disgusting recent change where racism went from “discriminating against someone due to their race” to “prejudice + power” or whatever it is. A concept designed by people intent in ruining discussion.

    • It has less to do with videogames (given it’s related to Twitch) and more to do with Ethan’s politics (given it’s Kotaku’s pet-favourite streamer).

  • “The problem, of course, is that racism refers to overarching power structures, not if an innocuous word made you feel bad.”

    No, this is categorically false and seems like a justification to be horrible to people for being white and claim it’s not racist to do so.

    Racism means being prejudiced towards someone based on their race. That’s all. Your twisting of the definition is an attempt to justify racist bigotry.

    • The trick here is to repeat the fallacy often enough that people will believe it and then it becomes “official” on some web dictionary further feeding its legitimacy and then you eventually change the “meaning”

      • The twittersphere has been doing that for years now and they wonder why theres so many Black on Asian crime recently.

    • I don’t support this dude going around calling people cracker but that doesn’t mean that’s the only level racism works at.

      It’s obvious in an extreme example. A white slave owner may be hated by his black slaves. But how much power has their hatred got? They will be whipped if he is slightly annoyed, but they can wish him death a thousand times and it means nothing. How racist your personal feelings are is way less important than which side society will support.

      Today if a society is biased against certain groups, then that effect still exists. Maybe in policing and justice, looking for a job or real estate. But it has a real effect on people’s lives.

      Like I mean do you think black people are upset just about the bad words?

    • The issue is that most on the more extreme end of the left all think that’s what racism is, to the point where they invented a new word to describe racism old meaning, BUT it only applies to non-whites. Colourism.

  • “racism refers to overarching power structures”

    Ahh yes… The stipulative definition of a word, coined by some feminist “theorist” in 70’s, being pushed as the standard and objective definition of a word…

    Lol… the “power + prejudice” stipulation is just that… a stipulation. “power + prejudice” racism is a very real thing, yes… but you know what else is… plain old racism. “I hate you because of the colour of your skin”.

    If a black man in America says, “I hate white people” then proceeds to (specifically) kill 4 white people (he actually went out of his way to *not* shoot at non-whites)… guess what… he’s a racist, who has committed a hate crime (Kori Ali Muhammad, in this example). But I’d love to hear the mental gymnastics one has to go through to prove this guy isn’t a racist.

    As for the use of the term “Cracker” and the proceeding ban.. specifically Vaush’s ban. I believe any word is free game when in civil discourse, especially in regards to it’s use and history, so in that regard… pretty poor form.

    “Nor is “cracker” equivalent to words historically used to subjugate and literally harm BIPOC.”

    That shouldn’t matter. If the intent is to use that word in a derogatory manner, belittling someone based on the colour of their skin. It’s bad and should be called out as such. Is it on the same “level”? Should that matter?

  • Pathetic. No. Cracker has for decades been used by black people as a racist slur towards white people. Or is the author saying that Ryan Reynolds is racist, since its on the record that Wesley Snipes was abusive and derogatory towards him during the filming of Blade Trinity, only referring to him as ‘that cracker’.

      • Barbary Coast called… they want to know why no-one talks about their slave trade.

        But congratulations on purposefully missing the point 😉

  • I’d just apply occham’s razor here. Two wrongs do not make a right. It’s a racially charged term too, so he was busted for using it. Sure the severity of it isn’t as bad as another, but it’s still a racially charged term. So yeah, they applied the ruling for it. Good on ’em for at least showing some consistency.

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