Hochul Says Black Kids In Bronx Don’t Know What The Word Computer Is

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul made the erroneous and what some believe is racially charged statement on Monday, May 6, at the 27th annual Milken Institute Global Conference to discuss expanding economic opportunities in artificial intelligence for low-income communities.

“Right now, we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word computer is. They don’t know, they don’t know these things,” Hochul said while on stage.

In a Day One Milken conference chat with newscaster Jonathan Capehart, Hochul “explained her desire to make technology more widely accessible, especially in low-income communities.”  It was while she breathlessly touted spending “the money to build a phenomenal supercomputer,” something that “no other state has done,” that she harped on New York’s opportunity to be “the best” and then stumbled into her remark. 

There was no pushback to Hochul’s comment in the moment, whether from Capehart himself (who is Black) or from conference attendees. The remark went unaddressed during the interview and the governor went on to explain that her goal is to provide avenues for communities of color to access emerging artificial intelligence technologies as a means to address social inequality. But the governor’s comments caused immediate backlash from officials and lawmakers in the Bronx.

Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo, a Bronx Democrat, slammed the New York politician, stating that her statements were “harmful, deeply misinformed, and genuinely appalling.”

“Repeating harmful stereotypes about one of our most underserved communities, while failing to acknowledge the state’s consistent institutional neglect, only perpetuates systems of abuse,” she said. “I would invite Gov. Hochul to visit us in the Bronx to experience first-hand the intelligence, resilience, and joy that radiate from Bronx children and residents each day.”

“Deeply disturbed by [Hochul’s] recent remarks and the underlying perception that she has of Black and brown children from [the Bronx],” said New York State Assembly Member Karines Reyes. “Our children are bright, brilliant, extremely capable, and more than deserving of any opportunities that are extended to other kids. Do better.”

“I’m deeply troubled by the recent statements made by [Hochul]. The underlying perception conveyed about Black and brown children from the Bronx is not only disheartening but also deeply concerning,” fellow Assembly Member John Zaccaro Jr. said.

Others on social media were offended by Gov. Hochul’s statements, even as she later backpedaled, explaining that she regrets her making the statement.

“What the f—k is this? This just shows how out of touch they are,” read one comment on the Hip Hop Wolf’s Instagram profile. “They be 2 years old and know how to work a iPad better than the people in the Apple Store.”

“Governor Kathy Hochul saying black people don’t know what a computer is. Hope every Black American remembers this on November 5th when they vote!” another tweeted.

A third comment said, “I guarantee she ain’t had a conversation with a young black kid from the Bronx to know that.” Another Instagram user added, “Correction… Half of the kids in the Bronx don’t know who you are miss thing. She tried it.”

In a statement later Monday, Hochul said “I misspoke and I regret it.”

“Of course Black children in the Bronx know what computers are,” Hochul said. “The problem is that they too often lack access to the technology needed to get on track to high-paying jobs in emerging industries like AI. That’s why I’ve been focused on increasing economic opportunity since Day One of my Administration.”

Rapper, actor, television producer, and businessman 50 Cent clearly was not moved and after catching wind of her statement, he took to Instagram on May 8 to say, “I don’t know, any black kids that don’t know what a computer is in the Bronx. WTF They know how to work a iPad better than me.”

“Black Americans like me are often guilted into defaulting to supporting the Democratic Party — but with friends like the Democrats, who needs enemies?” Adam B. Coleman, author of “Black Victim to Black Victor” and founder of Wrong Speak Publishing wrote in his column in the NY Post.

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Governor Hochul not only insulted Black children, she insulted an entire borough. To say Black kids don’t know what a computer is asinine, especially when Black children have computer in their hands every day….a smartphone. Black children are some of the most tech savvy children in this world. I guess the governor has never been in a school in the Bronx. There are computers and tablets in classrooms. I guess she doesn’t think Black children don’t have access to them. I suggest that she goes to every school in the Bronx, and issues an public apology.

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