Twitch superstar Tyler "Ninja" Blevins has argued that it's not his job to teach the kids that look up to him about things like racism and white privilege.
In a wide-ranging interview with the The New York Times, Blevins was asked about what he might to to help curb toxicity in online gaming - specifically some of the language of behaviour of the kids who watch his livestreams. One question touched on Ninja's role in moderating the language used in the chat during streams, which can often turn ugly.
Blevins neatly sidestepped any responsibility for the way his fans talk during his streams, explaining that it all "comes down to parenting".
"You want to know who your kid is? Listen to him when he's playing video games when he thinks you're not," he said. "Here's another thing: How does a white kid know he has white privilege if his parents never teach him or don't talk about racism?
"If they're gaming and their first interaction with racism is one of their friends saying the N-word and they have no idea what it is--what if it was on my stream?" Ninja asked. "Is it my job to have this conversation with this kid? No, because the first thing that's going on in my head is, This kid is doing this on purpose to troll me. If someone says a racial slur on someone else's stream, it can potentially get that streamer banned. It's awful, but that's the first thing I think of."
The streamer added that he doesn't think video games are solely to blame, but that it's part of a wider internet culture - that people feel emboldened to say awful things under the veil of anonymity.
"People are behind the screen," he said. "They say what they want and can get away with it. You have complete anonymity. Your information and data are precious and should remain private, but it sucks that there are kids who can say racist things and be incredibly aggressive and threatening to women online and have zero repercussions. It would be awesome if when someone said something threatening, you could be like, 'Let me look up this dude's gamer tag on this website'--if the law could do this, not a normal person--and then boom: 'It's Jimmy. He said this. Let's call his parents.'"
Blevins has had to apologise for saying the N-word on stream on more than one occasion. As one of the most popular gamers on the planet, one that millions of kids admire and look up to, maybe he should do just a bit more to denounce casual racism.
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