NEW YORK – Justice Democrat and Socialist Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has denied accusations she affected her accent when talking to a predominantly black audience at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference in New York City on Friday.
The freshman Democrat’s jarring accent was quickly criticized online by users who called the accent ‘fake’ and cringe-worthy. But AOC immediately hit back, defending it as authentic on Twitter.
‘Folks talking about my voice can step right off,’ she wrote on Twitter. ‘Any kid who grew up in a distinct linguistic culture & had to learn to navigate class enviros at school/work knows what’s up. My Spanish is the same way.’
‘As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I’m fired up and especially when I’m home. It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time,’ she continued.
Ocasio-Cortez grew up in the Bronx until she was five, when her family purchased a home in Yorktown Heights in upstate Westchester County. She returned to the Bronx after graduating from Boston University in 2011.
‘Ain’t nothing wrong with that,’ the freshman Democrat drawled while speaking on Friday at Sharpton’s National Action Network conference in the Sheraton Times Square in Manhattan.
‘I’m proud to be a bartender. Ain’t nothing wrong with that,’ Ocasio-Cortez said. ‘There’s nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy.’
Ocasio-Cortez used her platform at an Al Sharpton-sponsored conference in New York on Friday to call for the ‘examining and pursuing an agenda of reparations’ – among a list of other left-leaning policies including support for free public colleges
The speech sparked a fierce debate on Twitter over whether AOC is ‘real’.
Conservative pundits quickly pointed out the jarring accent that Ocasio-Cortez seemed to slip into repeatedly, which sounded halfway between Southern drawl and Boricua twang.
‘We’ve played a lot of clips of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she doesn’t talk like that in a single one of them. That’s fake, that what that is,’ Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson said on his Friday show.
Other critics from the right took to Twitter to mock Ocasio-Cortez for her newfound accent.
‘I got five seconds into the video of AOC putting on an accent before cringing out,’ wrote Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold.
‘Ocasio-Cortez speaks in an accent that she never uses while telling a room of predominately black people that there is nothing wrong with them folding clothes, cooking, and driving other people around on a bus for a living,’ wrote Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra.
‘She literally pulled a Hillary Clinton,’ he continued, referring to Clinton’s habit of slipping into Southern accents in front of certain audiences during her Senate campaign.
Congressional Candidate Aja Smith wrote: ‘@AOC it was an insult for you to try a FAKE southern accent to impress people in a crowd…you might as well put on black face!’
‘What’s with AOC changing her accent every time she goes to a new place to try and fit in? So fake’, another user added.
She was branded condescending by others, who wrote: ‘Congratulations I think your fake accent was better than Hillary’s – just a little condescending don’t you think to try immitate (sic) the way others speak?’
Another added: ‘@AOC mocks this African American audience by using an accent she thinks they ALL have. To Cortez, everything is about identity politics and every black person sounds like this. Shame.’
But others rushed to defend Ocasio-Cortez, saying: ‘I’m a Nigerian, black, educated lawyer. At any given time my accent goes every which way because how I talk w/ my parents, w/ my friends, & at work differs.
It’s a privilege/skill to even be able to codeswitch. Y’all can’t turn us [email protected] Try again.’
‘Isnt she from the Bronx? Please correct my if I’m wrong but her accent sounds like a New York one. If you think thats “ghetto” Mark you need to get your head out of your ass’, another added.
Several commentators referenced code-switching, alternating between languages or varieties of language in conversation.
One said: ‘People who don’t understand the concept of code-switching and how it is part of the lives of people of color need to talk to more people.’
Another added: ‘It’s hilarious that white people think this is some kind of “gotcha!” for them to use against @AOC, when they don’t get that code-switching is something that virtually every professional person of color learns as a teenager. 20% of the black retail experience is specifically this.’
In February AOC was forced to insist that she does live in the Bronx, despite claims that her neighbors have never met her.
Through a spokesman, the New York Democrat strongly denied a report in the New York Post, which claimed there was scant evidence that she lives in the Bronx condo where she is registered to vote.
‘She lives there,’ the freshman congresswoman’s spokesman Corbin Trent told DailyMail.com, referring to a condo in the Parkchester neighborhood that was owned by Ocasio-Cortez’s late father.
‘That’s home, period, for her. That’s where she gets her energy, her drive. She not only lives there, that’s where her heart’s at, period,’ Trent said of the condo.
He said that he had worked for Ocasio-Cortez for two years, and personally knew that Ocasio-Cortez lived in the condo during that time.
Trent then said she actually lives ‘a block and a half away’ from the listed address in a two bedroom apartment with her boyfriend, having made the switch last month.
But Instagram clips then appeared to show she moved into new apartment in November – despite spokesman’s claims she settled in February.
In July, DailyMail.com reported that Ocasio-Cortez had actually spent much of her youth living in upscale Westchester County, in seeming contrast with a hard-luck campaign biography touting her Bronx roots.
After living in the Parkchester condo until she was around age five, her family moved to the suburban home for better schools, selling it when her father tragically died of cancer in 2008, but retaining ownership of the Bronx condo.
Earlier this week she revealed she still sleeps on a mattress on the floor of her unfurnished Washington apartment as she showed her followers around her home.
Others rushed to defend Ocasio-Cortez. Several commentators referenced code-switching, alternating between languages or varieties of language in conversation
At the event on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez used her speech to call for reparations to black Americans for slavery.
The freshman Democrat is pushing the controversial policy that has gained traction among the field of candidates bidding to oust President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Ocasio-Cortez used her platform at an Al Sharpton-sponsored conference in New York on Friday to call for the ‘examining and pursuing an agenda of reparations’ – among a list of other left-leaning policies including support for free public colleges.
‘That is the moral political and economic underpinning of making bold investments and dignified jobs because that is the necessary plan to fix the pipes in Flint [Michigan] and clean the air in the South Bronx,’ the rising political star said.
She went on to call for unionized energy jobs for transitioning workers in Appalachia and West Virginia, as well as single-payer health care and Medicare-for-all.
Adding: ‘Tuition-free public colleges and universities to prepare our nation for the future, and for the end of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, examining and pursuing an agenda of reparations and fixing the opioid crisis too.’
But an investor speaking at the same event has labelled Ocasio-Cortez ‘financially illiterate’ for her role in destroying the Amazon deal which saw the retail giant pull out of New York.
Tracy Maitland, president and chief investment officer of Advent Capital Management, said: ‘The people campaigning against the Amazon campus are financially illiterate.’
He later told The New York Post: ‘This was a disgrace. I partially blame AOC for the loss of Amazon. She doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. That’s scary.
‘We have to make sure she’s better educated or vote her out of office.’
CUNY chairman Bill Thompson also said the pull out meant job opportunities were ‘snatched away’ from students of the City University.
Ocasio-Cortez said the policies she had in mind were generational rather than geared around a presidential cycle.
The recently sworn-in Congresswoman’s support of progressive policies highlights a shift further left by the Democratic Party, whose leading figures in the past – including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders – all came out against it.
It remains unclear how the reparations would be delivered, however.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who introduced a bill on the subject in January, said that ‘the impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to affect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation.’
She said the measure, formally known as the ‘Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act’, would examine the ‘institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies.’