Florida candidate for governor Ron DeSantis claiming that his opponent, Andrew Gillum, who is black, would “monkey this up” by winning carries deeply racist undertones, according to P.R. Lockhart of Vox. While DeSantis denies racist intentions, his own use of the word “articulate” to describe Gillum fits a racially-motivated trend of underhandedly insinuating that this is exceptional for a black person. Comparing black people to monkeys also has a long history in the U.S, having been used prominently against Barack and Michelle Obama. This fits a pattern of identity politics that Donald Trump has been pushing to unsettle white communities about minority candidates.
The effort to paint Florida candidate for governor Ron DeSantis as a racist for a poor choice of words is vastly over the top, holds Philip Wegmann of the Washington Examiner. Saying his black Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum would “monkey this up” was inappropriate but it didn’t reflect some deep-seated racism. DeSantis has no history of bigoted views, nor one of using identity politics to rile up voters. Actively making his campaign about race would have been a huge blunder. Although Democrats have tried to paint him as a bigot, the instance probably comes down to using an unfitting expression at the wrong moment. DeSantis’s words don’t make him a racist.