The Rhode Island state senator who went viral for posting a video of herself twerking in a bikini on the Fourth of July has no regrets over the performance and would do it all over again.
Sen. Tiara Mack, a first-term Democrat, faced a wave of criticism after posting the 8-second clip of herself twerking upside down in a hand-stand on the beach to her official TikTok page.
Her TikTok account was also temporarily suspended and she even received death threats after making the post.
But the fallout from the video hasn’t deterred Mack, who told local news station WPRI that she’s used the reactions to foster meaningful dialogue.
“It’s been so exciting and fascinating to dive into these conversations with people and to really challenge their thinking,” the 28-year-old lawmaker said in an interview with WPRI politics editor Ted Nesi.
Mack added that she was just being herself, a young black queer woman, on her day off.
“I’ve struggled with the idea that in order to be respected, I have to be fully clothed and buttoned up and I have to be performing in a way that is inauthentic to myself,” she told WPRI.
Mack, who was elected in 2020 and is running for re-election, dismissed critics of her video as racists and misogynists and said her TikTok post is nothing out of the ordinary for a young person to post.
“My behavior on my Twitter, Instagram and TikTok are consistent with a young millennial who is in office and challenging norms,” she told the Associated Press. “I’m showing that leadership looks different and welcoming people into the many different facets of my life.”
The video in question — which Mack filmed on Block Island and ended with an enthusiastic “Vote Senator Mack!” — has been viewed more than 220,000 times.
“It was a way to show that elected officials can be silly and have fun and enjoy a day off,” she said, adding that state senators in Rhode Island are considered part-time workers.
Some commentators applauded the candid clip.
“I need to see more politicians doing [this],” one wrote.
“Tempted to move to RI just to say this is my senator,” another fan wrote, as others said she had sealed their support.
However critics felt it was inappropriate for a lawmaker to post and Republicans in Rhode Island and across the country jumped at the opportunity to use the video to bash the left.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson ridiculed Mack’s video during his show, saying sarcastically that her “demonstrated talent” proved she was “the next rising star in the Democratic Party.”
The lawmaker’s TikTok account was restored Wednesday and she has since used the social media platform to respond to the backlash and use the media attention to speak about issues she cares about.
Mack said she hopes to funnel attention from the video into education and advocacy on issues like abortion rights, environmental protection, solitary confinement and the black wealth gap.
She has since started a campaign “#twerkfor” to promote her goals.