The social media gods (or devils) threw its rabid users a fresh batch of raw meat Friday morning when Twitter addicts saw the word “Peanut” climbing the ranks of the treasured trending topics. Naturally, inquiring social media minds wanted to know what the fuss was all about. Word had it that the so-called Grumpy Cat died. Was “Peanut” his name?
Turned out the answer, as social media users found out in a resounding fashion, was pretty far from that.
“Peanut” is apparently a Black boy in a viral video posted to Twitter by Cole LaBrant, a white man who got internet-famous from Vine videos back when that was a thing. “Peanut” is also LaBrant’s “adopted cousin,” according to a tweet he posted late Thursday night. “Peanut,” the only Black or brown person seen in the video shot a playground, is shown getting on his hands and knees and acting as a human stool to help white “girls get off and back ON the swings,” LeBrant wrote. “We all need to be more like Peanut.”
A woman’s voice can be heard in the background saying, “Oh my goodness. Sweet boy.”
In theory, helping out a friend is always the right move. But when you factor in transracial adoption and white families raising Black children, context matters. (Nevermind the fact that the girls were simply getting off the swings in order to step on Peanut’s back to get back on the same swing within a matter of seconds.)
Black Twitter fingers got to typing with the quickness to call out LaBrant for blissfully promoting the troubling imagery the video was evoking from the wrong side of history.
LaBrant quickly deleted the tweet Friday morning, but screenshots preserved it and the video had already been retweeted thousands of times.
It was unclear whether the child’s name was actually Peanut or if it was a nickname. Babynames.com says that Peanut is actually a popular name. TheBump.com, a website devoted to all-things pregnancy, regularly refers to babies as “the little peanut.” To be clear, it is not unheard of to refer to a baby or child as Peanut.
But, of course, the larger context that LaBrant seemed to have ignored was how America has long viewed Black children as less than human.
The Washington Post’s Vanessa Williams wrote last year about “how society keeps black boys from being boys.” And while the setting was indeed a playground, LaBrant was rejoicing at Peanut’s role of a subservient actual footstool for white girls who actually got to enjoy playing in a playground by swinging on swings and not having people stand on their backs.
Meanwhile, in reality, here Peanut was going back and forth between these two white angels, giving them a literal boost while he worked from the bottom. For many, the name Peanut just added insult to injury. The child could have been named anything and still gotten the same response to the damning, damaging and disrespectful imagery on the video.
The Huff Post touched on the dynamics of white people adopting Black children, something that in recent years has become somewhat of a novelty, especially among celebrities.
“Adoption, regardless of racial dynamics, requires a level of patience, love and empathy, but a white person choosing to adopt a black child must first be willing to confront the passive racist views all white people hold, subconsciously or not,” contributor La Sha wrote back in 2017.
In a recent yet extreme example of transracial adoptions gone wrong, Devonte Hart and his five siblings were murdered in March of last year by their white adoptive parents. Hart was famously photographed crying while hugging a police officer with a facial expression that some said looked more like a cry for help.
It was within all of the above contexts that Black Twitter saw the Peanut video, as shown by the below tweets in response.