Misquoting minorities perpetuates racism

Misleading headlines force readers to think of AOC as stereotypical and irresponsible.


Columnist Noah Neal

Noah Neal, Opinions Columnist

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Jan. 22. At one point in the show, Colbert asked the congresswoman, “On a scale from zero to some, how many f*cks do you give?,” and Ocasio-Cortez proceeded to form a circle with her hand and responded by only saying, “Zero.”

The following day, misleading headlines surfaced that read “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Stephen Colbert: I give ‘zero’ f*cks  about upsetting senior Democrats.” This sparked attention from many sources, including Ocasio-Cortez herself, who responded by tweeting: “I actually didn’t say this, so while I know ‘brown women cursing’ drives clicks, maybe you accurately quote the whole exchange instead of manipulating people into thinking I said this sentence instead of just the word ‘zero.’ ”

Situations similar to this have occurred before, but is this different because Ocasio-Cortez is a woman of color?

Misleading or exaggerated headlines are written daily in order to bait readers into reading more about the subject. However, misquoting people in a position of power is a careless game to play, especially when the person is a minority.

Stereotypes that have followed women, especially women of color, do measurably more damage to their character in comparison with their white male counterparts. The media continue to perpetuate the stereotypes and illustrate images of women being overly “emotional” or impulsive. The New York Post even included a photo of AOC yelling during a speech she had given at an earlier time.

Purposely including a photo with such aggression behind it automatically forces us to think of the representative as the stereotypical person of color reacting irresponsibly.