Elizabeth Warren’s Crypto Challenger Repeatedly Used The N-Word In His Book

John Deaton says he was providing an “uncensored” look at his harrowing upbringing.
Republican John Deaton, a former U.S. Marine and cryptocurrency attorney, announced on Feb. 19 that he is challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), running for her third term in office.
Republican John Deaton, a former U.S. Marine and cryptocurrency attorney, announced on Feb. 19 that he is challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), running for her third term in office.
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

John Deaton, a Republican cryptocurrency attorney who announced he was challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Tuesday, repeatedly used a racial slur in a memoir published last fall while recounting his impoverished Detroit upbringing.

The fifth chapter of his book, “Food Stamp Warrior,” features repeated uncensored uses of the N-word, as Deaton — who is white — recounts using it as a middle schooler, and directing it at a Black teacher. He also describes a moment when a Black man called him a “little white n***a.” At no point does Deaton use asterisks or otherwise censor the word. He also writes he would never say the word today.

A spokesman for Deaton, who moved from Rhode Island to Massachusetts earlier this month in order to challenge Warren, said the book — which is often harrowing, including recounting a man raping Deaton and an incident where Deaton may or may not have shot a man — was meant to be an uncensored look at his life, which began in poverty in the majority-black Detroit enclave of Highland Park.

John’s book is a raw and honest memoir detailing growing up in one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in America, overcoming the odds, and surviving,” said Jim Conroy, an adviser to Deaton. “As such, nothing is censored.”

Over the course of the 159-page book, Deaton writes the racial slur 16 times. Sometimes he is reflecting what Black people in his life said to each other, other times recounting moments when he himself uses the word.

At one point, he recounts a story where a middle school teacher refers to Deaton as a “smart-ass honky” and the teacher then dares Deaton to “say it back.” After the teacher tells Deaton to “sit [his] dumb white honky ass down,” Deaton uses the N-word in response.

“Come over here and make my white honky ass sit down, n***a,” Deaton says, according to the book.

A Black student then begins fighting Deaton, and both students are sent to the principal’s office.

The chapter’s title comes when Deaton recounts a moment where he helps his team win a football game after an older Black man tells Deaton’s coach to “put the honky in.” After Deaton helps his team wins the game, the older man — Deaton believes him to be the grandfather of one of his teammates — calls him “my little white n***a,” which Deaton took as a compliment.

When Deaton was a few years older, he once said “n***a please” in response to an accusation he was an undercover cop. The man he said it to pushed Deaton to the ground and pulled out a gun, threatening to kill him before one of Deaton’s friends intervened. The incident prompted Deaton’s friend to deliver a “reality check,” Deaton writes.

“Look man, just because I let you pretend that you’re a brother, doesn’t mean other people will. I have to break it to you homie, but you ain’t black,” Deaton’s friend told him. “Just because I give you a pass saying that shit when it’s just me and you, doesn’t mean others will.”

Deaton writes the incident prompted him to reevaluate his standing in society after growing up as one of the only white children in a majority-black community and getting bullied for it: “The truth is, until I was seventeen years old, I wished I was black. Excluding rappers, actors, and musicians, I bet I’m the only white, middle-aged millionaire who wished he was black for the first two decades of his life.”

“Today, I’m a middle-aged, rich, white lawyer and, of course, you’d never hear that word come out of my mouth. In today’s world, it’s probably controversial for me to admit that I said it back then — but it was a different time, a different era,” Deaton continues later in the chapter. “Most people today will never understand. If I told a group of black people my age and where I grew up for the first two decades of my life, and I was asked, ‘Have you ever used the N-word in a derogatory way in your entire life?’ I wouldn’t lie. And if I did, they would know it. It was just part of that culture.”

Deaton faces an extremely uphill battle to unseat Warren, a moderately popular senator in a state President Joe Biden won by 33 percentage points in 2020. Deaton first came to relative prominence by battling the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of the owners of the cryptocurrency XRP, which the SEC wanted to classify as a security.

Warren is a skeptic of cryptocurrency, which Deaton cited as a reason to challenge her. He’s already loaned his campaign $500,000. Warren had just shy of $4 million in her campaign account as of the end of 2023, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

In his campaign launch video, Deaton discusses his upbringing in poverty and suggests he will do more for working-class voters than Warren, who “gives lectures and plays politics and gets nothing done for Massachusetts.”

“I am running for Senate to continue my life’s mission to shake things up for the people who need it most,” Deaton says in the video.

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