The Hawkeye

Rep. DeSantis comment had everything to do with race

Raven Adcox, [email protected]

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Context is key.

This belief was nowhere to be found when Republican candidate for Florida governor, U.S. Rep. Ron De Santis said, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting this state. That is not going to work. It’s not going to be good for Florida,” in regards to his opponent’s campaign. The statement was said on FOX News, a  notoriously conservative-leaning news program.

The democratic candidate, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, could become the first African American man elected as governor in the state of Florida. A simple Google search would lead you to this fact. Now, I understand that the word “monkey” may not have been used as a racial remark itself. However, the context of the phrase paired with who the phrase was directed at makes me question the intelligence of DeSantis’ campaign.

How did your PR representative let a statement like that get on air? The only way his PR team would let this statement slide was, if it was used on purpose to incite drama and media coverage for the republican candidate. I guess any publicity is good publicity.

With that comment, Controversy swirled, as it does, with media outlets grasping for content. DeSantis’ campaign put out another statement addressing the remarks made on air. Stephen Lawson, communications manager for the DeSantis campaign, said via email, “Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses. To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”

I believe that to hold on to ignorance, rather than simply apologizing for a moment of miscommunication is absolutely pitiful.

It is absurd that the term “monkey,”  which has been used as a derogatory slur against people of color for years in this country, was used in the first place. I can only point to the willful ignorance people like DeSantis maintain, instead of trying to understand the history behind a word like that. DeSantis should be ashamed and Floridians should be offended that this man is making a joke out of the race for governor.

Gillum released a statement addressing the remarks made by DeSantis against his campaign. “It’s very clear that Mr. DeSantis is taking a page directly from the campaign manual of Donald Trump, but I think he’s got another thing coming to him if he thinks that in today’s day and age Florida voters are going to respond to that level of derision and division,” Gillum said in a response interview with FOX News. I agree with Gillum on this one.

DeSantis doesn’t understand the context of what is taking place in the U.S. today. Americans, be they republican or democrat, are tired of clear division tactics used in politics. We aren’t stupid. We understand the meaning between words. Other phrases besides the one used by DeSantis would have worked just fine. “Don’t screw this up,” or “Don’t mess this up,” would have gotten the same point across. DeSantis went directly for Gillum’s ethnicity.

Apparently, no one on DeSantis’ team thought about the context of saying a phrase like that to an African American candidate in 2018, which was a big mistake.

Again, the phrase may not have been racist by itself, but look at the context. DeSantis might not be a racist. Maybe, he is just an idiot. Or, maybe, he is both. However, racists will vote for him simply because he used racially motivated language when he didn’t have to. And that folks  tells us where the country stands on the topic of racism.

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The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe
Rep. DeSantis comment had everything to do with race