Washington: Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and her ally, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, have been criticised for a racist joke at a charity event.
Appearing on stage at the Inner Circle Show, an annual New York comedic performance held for charity on Saturday, Clinton set up the joke: “I just have to say thanks for the endorsement, Bill. Took you long enough.” Her reference was to the fact that he endorsed her months after she launched her campaign.
“Sorry Hillary, I was running on C.P. time,” de Blasio responded, allegedly referring to the slang term “coloured people time”. The term alludes to the stereotype that African-Americans are typically late, CBS News reported on Monday.
Actor Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in the musical “Hamilton”, was also on stage and told the mayor, “That’s not — I don’t like jokes like that, Bill.”
Clinton then delivered the punchline, responding that Bill de Blasio was referring to “cautious politician time”.
The joke quickly made its way around social media as both Clinton and her opponent Senator Bernie Sanders work to woo black voters ahead of the April 19 primary in New York.
Both de Blasio and 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 de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, who is African-American.
Liberal site Salon.com called the comedy skit “cringe worthy”. A headline in Gawker read “Hillary Clinton Tries to Prove She’s Not Racist with Awkward Joke About ‘Coloured People Time’.”
The African-American website TheRoot.com called the joke “cringeworthy”.
The Left-leaning site RawStory.com similarly called it “painful”, while the conservative website TownHall.com called it “absolutely painful”.
Speaking on CNN on Monday evening, de Blasio said the exchange was part of a scripted event and that all parties were in on the joke, with “cautious politician” being the intended punchline.