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NY Governor Says Black Kids Don’t Know What a Computer Is

“Right now, young Black kids growing up in the Bronx don’t even know what the word ‘computer’ is. They don’t know, they don’t know these things.”

Governer Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York found herself backpedaling furiously after making a racist remark. During her speech at the Milken Institute Global Conference in California, Hochul claimed a staggering ignorance among black children in the Bronx, saying they don’t even know what the word “computer” means. This kind of patronizing statement not only reeks of condescension but also of a deep-seated presumption about racial and socioeconomic stereotypes that Hochul and her colleagues rely on. 

Her comments were part of a discussion on her $400 million Empire AI initiative, which she pitches as a step towards creating a more diverse tech workforce. Yet, with such remarks, she inadvertently highlighted a disconnect and perhaps an underlying elitism that is all too common among progressive politicians who claim to champion diversity while displaying a profound misunderstanding of the communities they serve.

The backlash was swift and fierce, leading Hochul to attempt damage control by stating, “I misspoke and I regret it. Of course, Black children in the Bronx know what computers are.” But the damage was already done. Such a statement not only undermines the intelligence and capability of Black children but also casts a shadow on her initiative. If the premise of her $400 million plan is based on such misguided views, how can it be trusted to genuinely address the needs of diverse communities?

This episode is a classic example of the elite’s tendency to speak about and for minority communities in ways that are not only unhelpful but downright derogatory. It begs the question: who are these programs really for? It seems they are more about the self-satisfaction of the politicians who create them than about the real empowerment of the communities they claim to help.

In the grand scheme of things, Governor Hochul’s faux pas is more than just a slip of the tongue; it’s a revealing glimpse into the problematic mindset that certain politicians carry into their policy-making. It’s a mindset that views certain demographics as problems to be fixed rather than potential to be realized. And as long as this perspective remains unchallenged, the policies crafted will continue to miss the mark, no matter how grand their announced intentions are.

Robert B. Chernin

Robert B. Chernin

Robert is a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, fundraiser, and former radio talk show host. He studied political science at McGill University in Montreal and has spent over 25 years deeply involved in civic affairs at all levels. Robert has consulted on a variety of federal and statewide campaigns at the gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial, and presidential level. He served in leadership roles in the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush as well as McCain for President. He led Florida’s Victory 2004’s national Jewish outreach operations as Executive Director. In addition, he served on the President’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.