Former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin sparked a controversy yesterday when she posted a note on her Facebook page accusing President Barack Obama of engaging in a “shuck and jive shtick” with “lies” about the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya last month. The term “shuck and jive” originated in the Deep South and has been used as a derogatory description of African-Americans. After Ms. Palin faced accusations her use of the phrase was racist, she fired back with another Facebook note that pointed to past uses of the term by Governor Andrew Cuomo, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.
“For the record, there was nothing remotely racist in my use of the phrase ‘shuck and jive’–a phrase which many people have used, including Chris Matthews, Andrew Cuomo, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to name a few off the top of my head,” Ms. Palin wrote. “In fact, Andrew Cuomo also used the phrase in reference to Barack Obama, and the fact that Mr. Cuomo and I used the phrase in relation to President Obama signifies nothing out of the ordinary.”
Mr. Cuomo, who supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid in 2008, used the phrase to describe her opponents (including Mr. Obama) during that year’s presidential primary.
“You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference. All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room,” Mr. Cuomo said.
Politicker reached out to Mr. Cuomo’s office to see if they have a comment on Ms. Palin’s note. As of this writing, we have yet to receive a response.
After listing other high-profile figures who have used the phrase, Ms. Palin went on to defend herself by pointing out that many people use phrases she has deemed potentially offensive to Eskimos.
“I’ve been known to use the phrase most often when chastising my daughter Piper to stop procrastinating and do her homework. As she is part Yup’ik Eskimo, I’m not sure if this term would be deemed offensive when it’s directed at her or if it would be considered benign as in the case of Chris Matthews’ use of it in reference to Rachel Maddow,” Ms. Palin wrote. “Just to be careful, from now on I’ll avoid using it with Piper, and I would appreciate it if the media refrained from using words and phrases like igloo, Eskimo Pie, and ‘when hell freezes over,’ as they might be considered offensive by my extended Alaska Native family.”
Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, is one-quarter Yup’ik Eskimo and her children are one-eighth Eskimo.