The Whitewashing of Nathan Green

The Whitewashing of Nathan Green

So it began within our Black folk only WhatsApp chat, "Jerry Christian, we're never buying Jack Daniels again". Now I have had a very vague understanding of what went down between Jack Daniels and the Black man that taught him how to make whiskey and how Jack basically "jacked" the process (pun intended) without giving the man his proper due and more importantly, financial compensation. With whiskey being my adult beverage of choice as I gracefully age, I was a bit reluctant to agree so I responded with the appropriate "why?" and "didn't they settle?" in an effort to retain my "Gentleman Jack" relationship. Others in the chat were equally distraught as the bearer of seemingly bad news, Courtney kept leaking more information while stringing us along to a destination we weren't sure we wanted to arrive. However, the answer to the aforementioned statement was well worth the suspense, "This nigga has his own whiskey!" Well damn!

America has a long and sordid history of conveniently omitting the sources for many of its great inventions and discoveries that came by way of people of color. More specifically, white folk tend to "Columbus" the creations of Black and Brown folk and pass it off as their own. Hell, if you didn't know any better, you would assume that the culture vulture clan Kardashians created braids and made women with pleasantly plump posteriors attractive. As a representative of the Black contingent, I would like to say that is blatantly false and I need you to do better if you think otherwise. There are other things such as Yoga, Kombucha and more recently Brooklyn that have white folks fingerprints all over them but existed prior to their "discovery". Moving on to the issue at hand, Nathan Green was a slave of Dan Call, a preacher who ran a whiskey distillery in his backyard (morals be damned) who was too busy to run the operation and handed over the reigns to a young Jack Daniel. For many years, the narrative was that Call taught Jack how to make the whiskey and history all but ignored Green's existence (the plight of Black people still). However, as the saying goes, the truth shall come to light and eventually, the authentic story emerged of Green, a master distiller, teaching Jack Daniel the process of making the legendary and highly regarded spirit in which Jack Daniel used to open his very own distillery in 1866, even hiring two of Nathan's sons in the process.

The irony, the Black man teaches the White man and the White man takes the knowledge and starts a business with this knowledge and hires the children of the same man that taught him. That is a nutshell is the gripe Black folk have with America and the racial wealth gap, economic inequity and the 400 year head start giving to one race of people ahead of another based on a vastly uneven playing field. In an ideal and fair society, Jack Daniels Whiskey would have been Nathan Green's Whiskey and all of his three sons and four grandchildren that were eventually employed by Jack Daniel's would have been part of a successful family owned and operated business of their own with far more pride and generational wealth to pass down. Antonio Moore or "Tone Talks" speaks astutely and often about the racial wealth gap that exists in America which you can check out here ( He is big on data and breaks it down concisely and clearly for all to digest.

Nathan Green's story and the countless others like it is the reason many Black folk such as myself continue to push for reparations. The debt America owes African-Americans is far greater than any outstanding to countries with whom they trade. Until this recognition and reconciliation of past injustices takes place, this country will continue to perpetuate a fallacious representation to the rest of the world while preaching from its soapbox. Collectively, we all have to responsibility to choose how and with whom we spend out dollars. Personally, knowing what I know now, I would be an enormous hypocrite to continue to support Jack Daniels and his product. Luckily, the descendants of Nathan Green have created an ultra premium aged whiskey in the heritage and honor of their overlooked ancestor. Uncle Nearest 1856 aged whiskey can actually be purchased here ( and it even gives you the backstory of Nathan Green in a very mature manner which much more class than I would have been willing to exude under the circumstances.

At the end of the day, support your own people, don't support brands or corporations that have thrived on the exploitation of people that look like you while not contributing anything to your people or community. We're in an age where information is extremely accessible so pleading ignorance is no longer an acceptable answer. Know better, do better and be better.

1 comment

Wholeheartedly agree!


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