In a video posted on TikTok, Rhode Island state senator Tiara Mack, a 28-year-old Providence Democrat, was seen twerking in a handstand while wearing a bikini. Her TikTok account was suspended from the app temporally. During a phone interview Wednesday, she dismissed any criticism of the clip as “misogyny, classism, and racism.” Mack released a statement saying, “It was a way to show that elected officials can be silly and have fun and enjoy a day off.” Mack also stated, “My behavior on my Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are consistent with a young millennial who is in office and challenging norms. I’m showing that leadership looks different and welcoming people into the many different facets of my life.” After being banned from TikTok on Tuesday, Mack’s TikTok account has been restored. A spokesperson for the popular social media app declined to comment on the reason for Mack’s suspension.
Since she posted the video over the fourth of July weekend, the video gained more than 220,000 views. According to Mack, she believes her suspension was due to an online campaign stemming from a bill she proposed earlier this year in which Rhode Island schools would be required to offer sex education courses that respect pleasure-based sexual relationships, all sexual orientations, and same-sex relationships. “My community stands in overwhelming support of me,” she said. “They know exactly what these attacks are and what these attacks can do, especially for a queer person of color.”
The Rhode Island Republican Party used the twerking video as a fundraising tool last week. In addition, Fox News personality Tucker Carlson spoke sarcastically about Mack running for president during his segment on the issue on Fox News.
In support of Sen. Mack, Democratic State Sen. Jonathon Acosta, tweeted, “It’s public that I’m out here casually drinking, smoking weed, and spending as much time shirtless as the summer sun will allow and it’s not an issue because I have a penis.” Through all of this, Mack is continuing to spin the attention in her favor. Mack has used her newfound attention and the hashtag #twerkingfor to advocate for the end of evictions and the closing of the Black wealth gap.