*It came off as some kind of vaudevillian skit, with a race-themed joke that also appeared to have been plucked from a vaudeville act in 1890 – where it likely would’ve killed.
But this is 2016, and Hillary Clinton is trying to keep hold of her waning African American support as she runs for president – only to take a step backwards during a surprise visit to the Inner Circle dinner, an annual black-tie event in New York that brings together the city’s press corps, lobbyists and lawmakers.
She took the stage with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and African American actor Leslie Odom Jr., who was dressed as his character Aaron Burr in the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton.”
Clinton thanked de Blasio for his endorsement, then joked, “Took you long enough.”
The mayor replied, “Sorry, Hillary, I was running on C.P. time.”
In the video below, you can literally feel the air being sucked out of the room, along with a smattering of groans and light boos. The abbreviation refers to the African American stereotype of “colored people time.” Odom, who was in on the bit, according to the New York Times, said, “I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”
Clinton dryly replied, “Cautious politician time. I’ve been there.”
Social media exploded against both de Blasio and Clinton, further alienating her from the constituents of color she is attempting to woo.
Via The New York Times:
Both Mr. de Blasio and Mrs. Clinton have a reputation for running late, but the expression struck some as inappropriate.
New York magazine captured the exchange and asked “Does your wife, Chirlane, know about this joke?” referring to Mr. de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, who is African-American. Salon called the comedy skit “cringe worthy.” A headline in Gawker read “Hillary Clinton Tries to Prove She’s Not Racist with Awkward Joke About ‘Colored People Time.’”
Speaking on CNN on Monday evening, Mr. de Blasio said that the exchange was part of a scripted event and that all parties were in on the joke, with “cautious politician” being the intended punchline.
“I think people are missing the point here,” he said.
The joke came just days after Bill Clinton clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters who accused him of advancing policies during his administration that hurt African-American communities. A day later, the former president said he “almost” wanted to apologize to the activists.
Mrs. Clinton has overwhelmingly won the support of black voters and will be counting on them again next week in New York.
Below, some of the social media backlash:
— Lorm (@lormzic) April 11, 2016
Hillary Clinton and Bill de Blasio made a racist joke together. How much information do you need to prove she ain’t here for us? — Venus Selenite (@venusselenite) April 11, 2016
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) April 12, 2016