Desperate for a way to take down Ocasio-Cortez, conservatives have begun mocking her accent. Her response is flawless
It’s a tale as old as time: A woman is being criticized for the way she talks. This time, the woman is freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the critics are… well, this part isn’t surprising, either. Her critics are Republicans. Their recent attack? That she’s selectively used a “Southern drawl” when speaking to a mostly black audience during a speech on Friday.
Here’s what went down. On Friday evening, Ocasio-Cortez spoke to a crowd at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention in New York.
"I'm proud to be a bartender, ain't nothing wrong with that," she said in her speech. "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. There is nothing wrong with being a working person in the United States of America, and there is everything dignified about it."
All seems well, right? According to some conservative media publications… All was not well.
For example, The Washington Examiner suggested that she appeared to “imitate a Southern accent in a speech to a predominantly black audience," with the point being that Ocasio Cortez was "exaggerating and drawing out vowels in a distinct change from her usual pronunciation.”
Similar complaints came from conservatives on Twitter, including Tariq Nasheed:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is speaking in front of a predominately Black audience, and she is using this weird “Eboni… https://t.co/CmTzRTI98H— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸)1554510619.0
And John Cardillo:
In case you’re wondering, this is what blackface sounds like. https://t.co/oQVynsDxpc— John Cardillo (@John Cardillo)1554497328.0
Surprising no one, Ocasio-Cortez defended herself on Twitter:
Folks talking about my voice can step right off. Women’s March & Kavanaugh speech, same. Any kid who grew up in a… https://t.co/v6Wfj9CTOj— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1554503508.0
As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m f… https://t.co/qwCQqWt160— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)1554504067.0
Don Lemon, from CNN Tonight, dialogued with fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo and brought up an interesting possible explanation. Basically, Ocasio-Cortez was doing something totally normal, especially for people with certain backgrounds. What? Code-switching.
"There is a difference between mocking someone or a group of people and knowing your audience and reading the crowd," Lemon explained to Cuomo. "She's speaking to a group of black people, from New York, where she is from, she's at Al Sharpton's event, she's from the Bronx. If you are from the Bronx, you have hung out with black people and that is not the first time she has used that accent. Trust me."
Here’s a snippet from the speech in question: