‘I’m a real, fun person’: State senator defends twerking in video highlighting record and support from voters

·3 min read
Rhode Island State Senator Tiara Mack (TikTok/mackdistrict6)
Rhode Island State Senator Tiara Mack (TikTok/mackdistrict6)

A Rhode Island state lawmaker has defended herself after a video of her twerking upside down in a bikini on a beach attracted widespread attention.

Senator Tiara Mack’s Fourth of July TikTok video has now been viewed thousands of times and thousands of comments have been posted — some voicing support, others critical.

At the end of the short video, the first-term progressive Democrat representing part of Providence then says to the camera: “Vote Senator Mack”.

After seeing some of the online criticism, Ms Mack tweeted: “Damn. Twerking upside down really makes the conservative, unhinged internet accounts pop off on a Monday.”

Speaking to WJAR NBC 10 News about the video, Senator Mack said that she found it disappointing what is considered newsworthy in Rhode Island and that when it comes to coverage of her, her accomplishments in the state legislature and as a national champion rugby player are ignored over racist and sexist tropes.

Returning to TikTok, she addressed some of the comments she has received in more posts and noted that the video may well help her win her re-election.

“My constituents fricking love that I’m a real person and fun and not a robot,” Ms Mack said in one video.

In another, she said she was not surprised that the internet wanted to talk about the video over any of the policy wins she had had this year or accomplishments both inside and outside the Senate chamber.

“The consistency and the dedication with which the media decides to target Black, queer women — myself — in ways that are unproductive to the narrative, it’s lazy, it’s tacky, and quite frankly, I’m over it,” she says.

“I’ve got policy papers for days on my website. I have introduced policies for days. I’ve been talking and I’ve been elevating things, and the only thing they want to talk about is me shaking my ass.”

In one video, the lawmaker further says: “I’m trying to determine which point of envy these people are mad at. Is it the Ivy League degree? Is it the sitting state senator? Is it the bodacious body? Because the hate is real and abundant.”

She also took to Twitter to highlight her other achievements.

Ms Mack’s opponents in her re-election campaign pounced on the video.

Her rival in the Democratic Party primary for State Senate District 6, former state Representative Joe Almeida, told NBC 10 that the video is disrespectful of the Senate, and as a father of two daughters, he found it “an insult to all women”.

The Republican candidate running for the district, Adriana Bonilla, told the network that she has respect for all people, but was “left without words” after watching the video.

A fundraising campaign has been launched by the state Republican Party against “Twerking Tiara Mack”.

Ms Mack noted in one of her video responses that she won her first election 60 per cent to 40 per cent and is set on re-election.