AOC Critiqued for Switching Accents 😮

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News / Getty Images

Spencer Platt / Getty Images News / Getty Images

AOC's speech draws criticism

Critics of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) are claiming that she changed her accent while addressing a predominantly black audience at Al Sharpton’s 2019 National Action Network Conference in NYC last Friday. During her speech, in which she discussed her working-class roots, AOC said, “I’m proud to be a bartender. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.”

A Southern drawl or code switching?

AOC responded on Twitter, saying, “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….I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it.”Meanwhile, critics argued that AOC had spoken with a “Southern drawl” to pander to her African American audience. One called it “verbal blackface.


Washington Examiner: AOC adopts Southern drawl to talk to black audience

Daily Wire: Ocasio-Cortez comes up with new excuse for accent labeled as racist, pandering by critics

The right find this story meaningful, both as evidence of AOC’s racism and as an example of the left’s hypocrisy. These articles reference the opinion that AOC, who often accuses those on the right of racism, used a “new accent” to pander to her audience. They are not convinced by AOC’s code-switching defense. Far from it — they reference what has become known to many on the right as Hillary Clinton’s “blaccent.”


Rolling Stone: The right’s obsession with AOC has them hearing things

CNN: The laughable attack on AOC's 'drawl'

The left find this story a ridiculous, if frustrating, distraction tactic. They argue that code switching is a natural social behavior, but because AOC is such a lightning rod for criticism, her detractors jumped on her delivery as an opportunity to attack her. To indicate how common code-switching is, particularly in politics, these articles cite how both Hillary Clinton D-NY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) are known, for better or worse, for engaging in it.

Where's the common ground?

This is a story born of our time’s intense political partisanship. The left’s coverage is almost entirely a rebuke of the right’s initial reporting (and often in response to the original article by the Washington Examiner that “broke” the story). So while both sides include AOC’s original quote and subsequent explanations, articles are sharply divided along party lines in their perspective on whether the Congresswoman’s rhetoric was problematic or not.

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