Talib Kweli Sues Jezebel For “Emotional Distress”

Marc Millman/Getty Images

Talib Kweli Sues Jezebel For “Emotional Distress”

Marc Millman/Getty Images

Talib Kweli is suing the feminist news website Jezebel for “emotional distress” following a 2020 story titled “Talib Kweli’s Harassment Campaign Shows How Unprotected Black Women Are Online and Off.” The piece, written by Ashley Reese, described how the rapper had been suspended by Twitter for “repeated violations of Twitter rules,” which consisted of him repeatedly harassing a 24-year-old student and activist named Maya Moody. He is seeking $300k in damages.

At the time, Kweli and Moody had been engaged in a discussion about colorism in hip-hop. The rapper proceeded to tweet nonstop at Moody, sometimes for 12 hours straight in one day. At the time, several Black women struck up a campaign to report Kweli for targeted harassment. Initially, the campaign was unsuccessful, but two weeks later, Twitter Support suspended Kweli.

As Jezebel points out, the suit was filed pro se, meaning on his own behalf. Kweli alleges that Jezebel used him as a “guinea pig to clarify how black men treat black women.” He also alleges that Jezebel made him out to be “some monster that didn’t like black women, when 500k plus of his fans are black women, his ex-wife and child’s mother are black women, and his employees are black women.”

He also cites “Brown Skin Lady” from his 1998 album Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star as counter evidence: “The fact that plaintiff Talib Kweli wrote the song ‘Brown Skin Lady’ in an album that charted #53 on US Billboard 200 and #13 US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard) in 1998, this song was famous worldwide.” (Earlier this year, Kweli reunited with Madlib to release Black Star’s sophomore album No Fear Of Time.)

He continues in the suit:

My brown lady creates environments for happy brown babies, I know it sounds crazy, but your skin’s the inspiration for cocoa butter. You provoke a brother; we should get to know one another I discover when I bring you through my people say TRUE, all I can say is all praise due I thank you God for a beauty like you [Talib] This goes to the brown skin ladies.

In response to the suit, Jezebel has said via a spokesperson:

Jezebel’s article fairly reported on the controversy which led to the permanent suspension of Talib Kweli’s Twitter account. This suit, filed two years after the story was published, has no merit and the company will be seeking our attorneys fees pursuant to the protections afforded to the press to publish stories about matters of public interest like this one.

Kweli’s suit is eerily reminiscent of Hulk Hogan’s 2013 lawsuit in which the pro wrestler — with considerable financial backing from Peter Thiel — successfully sued Jezebel’s onetime sister website Gawker for posting a sex tape of Hogan’s. In 2016, Gawker Media ultimately lost the trial and was forced to file for bankruptcy and put itself up for sale. In the aftermath, six Gawker Media-owned websites (including Jezebel) were sold to Univision. Jezebel is now owned by G/O Media. Gawker later relaunched in 2021 under Bustle Digital Group.

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