From the Left



Is our 'blaccent' and use of code-switching really that offensive? Right-wing critics think so

By Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Should Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez be allowed to slip into an African-American accent while speaking to a mostly African-American crowd about issues of great interest to African-American communities?

I say, sure, if she can pull it off.

That calls for a little explaining. Allegations of cultural misappropriation rose with ferocity in conservative media over the past week since the New York Democrat, widely known as "AOC," spoke with what the Washington Examiner called a "Southern drawl" during a speech at the Rev. Al Sharpton's annual National Action Network convention in New York.

AOC was responding to President Donald Trump's dismissing her as a "young bartender" in an earlier speech to the National Republican Congressional Committee's annual spring dinner. "I'm proud to be a bartender," she said. "Ain't nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy. There is nothing wrong with preparing the food that your neighbors will eat. There is nothing wrong with driving the buses that take your family to work."

The audience sounded like it was with her all the way as she stretched her words into a drawl and declared, "Ain't no-thin' wro-o-ong with that...."

Indeed, there is not. Bartending's honest work, honestly described by AOC, and it's a profession that benefits from the ability to communicate and quickly build rapport with people, even when they might be slurring their words.


Yet AOC's online critics, eager to get the triple-bang thrill of mocking her, Sharpton and liberal political correctness, turned into armchair linguists and piled on.

"In case you're wondering," John Cardillo of Newsmax tweeted, "this is what blackface sounds like."

Ryan Saavedra of The Daily Wire charged that AOC "speaks in an accent that she never uses" -- although Ocasio-Cortez later cited video evidence that she has spoken similarly in the past.

David Almasi opined at Project 21, "It's hard to believe she didn't get called out by the majority-black audience for pandering or worse."


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