“Yes @realDonaldTrump has always been, will always be, and on the day of his bid for re-election, still is: a whiny little Kunta Kinte,” Olbermann tweeted in response to a video of Trump bashing Fox News while calling into the network’s “Fox & Friends” morning news show on Tuesday.
Kunta Kinte is the original name of the protagonist in “Roots: The Saga of an American Family,” a 1976 novel by author Alex Haley. The book - later made into multiple TV miniseries and movies - is a work of historical fiction that followed the life of Haley’s enslaved ancestors.
Kinte was viewed as stubborn by his enslavers because he did not accept “Toby” as his new name, despite being whipped for his defiance. He attempted to escape slavery a total of four times, with the final effort ending in his enslavers cutting off part of his right foot.
Netizens familiar with the classic American series immediately called out Olbermann.
A "whiny little Kunta Kinte?"— the artist formerly known as haitreason (@thurgoodhamer) November 3, 2020
I'm not fully fluent in WhiteSpeak, but it *feels* like Keith Olbermann just said "nigger." pic.twitter.com/iKfGzCLlYP
What— roxane gay (@rgay) November 3, 2020
Go to white hell.— Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) November 3, 2020
Y'all get entirely too comfortable. Da fk does this mean? pic.twitter.com/Ji0O1MYm0d— Madam C.J. White Walker (@ABitOfKwansLife) November 3, 2020
Me to Keith Olbermann: pic.twitter.com/G4GQ6FTSPj— Ambitious Voter (@Fembitious20) November 3, 2020
This tweet is disgusting and makes no sense. pic.twitter.com/dY7GuBrSlv— Michael Blackmon (@blackmon) November 3, 2020
Olbermann, hours later, attempted to clarify his tweet, claiming to have been attempting to use a dated “70's-80's technique” to call someone a c**t without explicitly saying the sexist slur.
Just logged back in: I apologize for my previous subtweet of this. I was using an old 70's-80's technique for calling somebody a c*** without writing/saying c***, just using a sound-alike to call Trump a c***— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) November 3, 2020
Deleting previous, largely because this one clarifies the c*** part https://t.co/hIIrt1Ke17
His admission, understandably, prompted even more confusion.
Trying to figure out why would a white man call another white man Kunta Kinte.— Ikran Askar (@ikranaskar) November 3, 2020
Is that a code for something?? pic.twitter.com/z4IVzb310K
Wait.. so white folk use “Kunta kinte” as a substitute for c*nt?— Reginald E. Boney, J.D. (@ReginaldBoney) November 3, 2020
Keith Olbermann: “wait it’s 2020! I can’t use a misogynistic slur. I know I’ll make a white supremacist turn of phrase instead!”— Ammon A. (@ideasmanphd) November 3, 2020
How 'bout choosing a word that doesn't use racism OR a nasty word for a woman?— Belinda McBride 🌊 (@Belinda_McBride) November 3, 2020
Call him a whiney little weenie or something.
“Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton, who played the younger Kunta Kinte in the 1977 TV miniseries version of “Roots,” delivered Olbermann a quick linguistics lesson.
Burton also changed his Twitter profile picture to a photo of him portraying the character while on the set of “Roots.”
“And you can never keep your personal lexicography as much as you’d like, so I especially appreciate the suggestions in this thread that ‘See you next Tuesday’ is the modern acceptable euphemism,” Olbermann concluded in his so-called apology.