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For nearly a month, Twitch star Pink Ward has been hoping to overturn his 30-day ban from the platform. He was punished last month for “engaging in hateful conduct against a person or a group of people” after he potentially used a racial slur on his live stream.
Pink Ward, whose real name is Hunter Trahan, told the Daily Dot he understands why he was banned, though he’s adamant that the accusation against him is false. He’s found it frustrating that Twitch has shared almost zero communication with him during and after the process. Now, he said he feels like a Twitch outcast “over something that I didn’t do.”
And he’s anxious about his future streaming career.
“I feel as though I need to watch any word I say because it could be once again misheard for a racial slur,” Trahan told the Daily Dot in an email. “When you stream eight to 10 hours a day, every single day, by the end of the day you’ve talked for the past eight hours and are just tired. If you mumble something that sounds like a racial slur, someone can report you and get you banned.”
During his stream from last month, Trahan—who has more than 190,000 Twitch followers and nearly 380,000 YouTube subscribers—insists he said the word “Yikers.” Twitch, which has not responded to a Daily Dot request for comment and doesn’t comment on individual users anyway, apparently believes he said the N-word. The clip of the incident is inconclusive (it sounds like the beginning of the word starts with a “Y,” but there’s almost certainly a “G” sound in the middle of the word).
What’s not up for debate Trahan’s frustration with Twitch’s lack of communication. Even though he’s a popular streamer, he’s not a Twitch partner, which would allow him to monetize his channel and t0 get priority support if he has an issue with the platform. The fact he’s not a partner hurt his chances of appeal, he said.
“I understand that and don’t think I should get priority over others since I’m not a partner, but the constant closing and resolving of my [appeal] tickets without responses is what really made the entire matter harder,” he said. “I never wanted to make a big deal out of all this … I felt that Twitch did not give me any chance as a user, partner or not, to work with them toward a resolution, and this has been the most frustrating part of this entire thing.”
As he tried to get in contact with Twitch officials, Trahan waited three weeks before eventually tweeting about his frustration and anxiety.
Having to wait the entire 30 days for saying Yikers really makes me anxious. What could I get banned for next? Does someone at twitch have it out for me? Will I avg 1k views when I come back like I was? Maybe I just stream with no cam no mic. Can’t ban me if no reason to, right?— Pink Ward (@Pinkwardlol) June 9, 2019
Trahan said if somebody is listening for the N-word in that clip, they’ll probably hear it. “In my situation,” he said, “it was a very low, murmuring, muffled tone, so it sounds like it could go either way.”
Trahan isn’t the first streamer to face accusations of possibly using a racial slur. Twitch star TF Blade was banned for 30 days for using the N-word, though he was also insistent that he didn’t say it. Eventually, his punishment was cut to seven days. In March, Twitch superstar Pokimane was accused of using a racial slur, but she successfully claimed she actually said the word “Anivia,” a character in the League of Legends game.
Trahan wonders if he could have avoided punishment if he had simply deleted the clip.
“But I didn’t, because I didn’t feel guilty that I did anything or said anything wrong,” he said.
Trahan said he feels like too much of the focus has been whether he actually said the N-word. He wishes people would understand the context surrounding the incident.
“I’ve streamed for four years without any history of me being racist,” said Trahan, whose ban ends on Monday. “It wasn’t a fit of rage, the manner in how I said it was so casual, with no underlying tone … The context was the biggest thing that would have worked in my favor, but it felt like it didn’t matter.”
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Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.