After securing the Republican nomination for governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis quickly generated backlash thanks to some racist choice words.
DeSantis definitely didn't take notes from the huge H&M controversy of January that it’s extremely racist to refer to black people as monkeys. This should be a well known fact, and DeSantis likely knows it, but in a television interview with none other than the folks at Fox News, he still told voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his black Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum.
A self-identified progressive in the camp of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Bernie Sanders, Gillum won the Democratic primary on Tuesday night in an upset. If he wins the race, Gillum would become Florida’s first black governor.
DeSantis’ racist comment came up in a conversation about his rival's progressive politics. "You know, he is an articulate"—another bright red flag—"spokesman for those far-left views and he's a charismatic candidate," DeSantis 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 the state. That is not going to work. That's not going to be good for Florida."
Per NBC, his people have since walked back the comments, claiming the comment was blown out of proportion. "Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” his communications director said. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd. Florida's economy has been on the move for the last eight years, and the last thing we need is a far-left democrat trying to stop our success."
The label of “monkey” or “ape” has been used to dehumanize black people since the beginning of racism. It’s also notably been used on the most famous black politician, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle. It’s the type of language that got Roseanne Barr fired.
In response to the comment, Gillum responded in the most Southern way possible through his spokesman Geoff Burgan: "As we say in Tallahassee, bless his heart."