Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has drawn criticism for departing from her usual accent in telling a predominantly black audience that there’s nothing wrong with serving in low skill jobs. She stated:
I’m proud to be a bartender, ain’t nothin 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.
She’s right, there’s nothing wrong with any of this. I find it objectionable, though, for a 29 year-old to lecture people of any race about whether it’s right or wrong to perform various types of work.
But that’s not what Ocasio-Cortez is under fire for doing. Instead, criticism of her remarks focuses on (1) the allegedly fake “black” accent she used to deliver them and (2) the assumption, as her critics see it, that the jobs she described are black jobs.
I’m not an expert on how Ocasio-Cortez normally delivers speeches. However, the first criticism seems overstated. The second seems invalid.
But it doesn’t matter what I think. What matters is that some on the left are accusing Ocasio-Cortez of cultural appropriation, of patronizing blacks, and maybe even of subtle racism.
One critic complained:
She trying too hard. The accent is so obvious ‘Ain’t nun wrong with dat’ Every African-American does not talk in this way. I guess you’re trying to ‘win the black vote.’ This ain’t it, @AOC.
This embarrassment of a woman @AOC really got up there and did that raggedy accent in front of all those black people. PSA: Not all black people are improper. Not all black people fold clothes and drive buses.
Perhaps the unkindest cut came from Fox News commentator Lawrence Jones III. “Hillary 2.0 y’all” was his observation.
There was also this barb from News Max’s John Cardillo: “In case you’re wondering, this is what blackface sounds like.” Not really, but it’s a good line.
The overblown criticism of Ocasio-Cortez is, of course, the natural outgrowth of identity politics. When identity is paramount, it must jealously be guarded. If a Latino woman encroaches on the black identity, even if it’s only with a slight change of accent in a few words, she has committed an affront.
We are seeing the future of the Democratic left, and it doesn’t work.