LL COOL J and MC Lyte were honored with the Phoenix Award during the annual awards dinner in Washington D.C. on Saturday (September 22). The event took place at CBC’s 52nd Annual Legislative Conference with President Joe Biden in tow. One particular clip from the soirée is going viral.
At one point, Biden got up to deliver a speech about both Hip-Hop artists and fumbled LL COOL J’s name—but then it got worse.
“Two of the great artists of our time representing the groundbreaking legacy of Hip-Hop in America , LL Jay Cool J, uhhh…” he said as the crowd laughed at the gaffe. “By the way that boy — that man’s got biceps bigger than my thighs.”
Of course, social media blew up with reactions to Biden’s blunder. One person wrote, “While speaking the black caucus joe Biden referred to legend MC LL Cool J as “Boy” and the black caucus laughed. Biden is the racist Malcolm X fought against,” while another said, “Cracked Segregationist Joe Biden calls rapper LL Cool J ‘boy.’ Old habits die hard. But it won’t matter. Democrats are the party of slavery, Jim Crow etc and the black community, victims of their destructive policies, continue to vote for these villains.”
BIDEN: “LL J Cool J, uhh, by the way, that boy’s got— that man’s got biceps bigger than my thighs” pic.twitter.com/ulCQRkEp0l
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 24, 2023
Referring to an adult Black man as “boy” is historically racist. In the 1930s, a young Martin Luther King Jr. was sitting in the passenger seat of his father’s car when his dad accidentally ran a stop sign on a Georgia street. As King recalled in an essay, “A policeman pulled up to the car and said: ‘All right, boy, pull over and let me see your license. My father replied indignantly, ‘I’m no boy.’ Then, pointing to me, ‘This is a boy. I am a man, and until you call me one, I will not listen to you.”
Once King became a civil rights activist writing from a Birmingham, Alabama jail cell, he would point to the word “boy” as one of Jim Crow’s ritual humiliations, braided into the racial etiquette of the post-slavery South. He noted it was yet another way that white people weaponized language to remind Black people of their place.
Twitter (X) exploded with memes after Biden’s clip went viral. Check out a few of the reactions below.
Joe loves using the word boy. pic.twitter.com/KMwzG25CnF
— Savannah (@BasedSavannah) September 24, 2023
LOL “boy” some would say it’s his age but from his voting record on incarcerating black men it’s racism. pic.twitter.com/C33dYuBPok
— Jay W Rittenour (@WRittenour9387) September 24, 2023
— Corey Lambrecht (@OklaInspector) September 24, 2023
— Creature of Habit2 (@CreatureHabit2) September 24, 2023
Joe Biden calls LL Cool J “boy” . I think his mind is stuck in the 60s. pic.twitter.com/8zUyaeQLlT
— Malachi Maxey (@malachimaxeyusa) September 24, 2023