Governor Kathy Hochul apologizes after being slammed for saying ‘Black kids in The Bronx don’t know the word computer’

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul came under fire yesterday for saying that, “right now we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word ‘computer’ is”, at the Milken Institute Global Conference in California where the governor was speaking about her new $400 million Empire AI initiative .

But it wasn’t until later yesterday evening after having been slammed by Bronx elected officials that Hochul apologized for the statement.

Assemblymember Amanda Septimo said on X, “Governor Hochul’s remarks regarding young black children in The Bronx were harmful, deeply misinformed, and genuinely appalling.”

NYS Governor Kathy Hochul at Milken Institute Global Conference where she said, “Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word ‘computer’ is”/Image via the Governor’s X account.

Other elected officials echoed those sentiments like Assemblymember Karines Reyes, RN who also said on X, “Deeply disturbed by Governor Kathy Hochul’s recent remarks and the underlying perception that she has of Black & brown children from the BX. Our children are bright, brilliant, extremely capable, and more than deserving of any opportunities that are extended to other kids. Do better.”

In her apology, Hochul stated that, “While discussing my commitment to expanding economic opportunity for communities of color, I misspoke and I regret it,” she said in a statement. “Of course Black children in the Bronx know what computers are — the problem is that they too often lack access to the technology needed to get on track to high-paying jobs in emerging industries like [artificial intelligence].”

There really was no need for Hochul to single out a racial group or The Bronx to emphasize why she is trying to make sure that underserved and digitally divided communities that are primarily of color don’t get left behind by lack of access to technology.

“Our children, far from being underestimated, are the epitome of brilliance, resilience, and untapped potential.” said John Zaccaro, Jr, another state assemblymember from The Bronx in an official statement following Hochul’s comments.

He added, “They are not only capable but deserving of every opportunity that their counterparts are offered. It’s disheartening to witness such a portrayal that undermines their abilities and aspirations.”

If Hochul truly cares about the digital divide and the education of our children then we’d see more funding coming into those communities that desperately need it to address such concerns. While the city and state has seen increased funding in education over the past years, it’s still a far cry from what is truly needed in order to give our children a level playing field.

Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez once said, ‘I was born in a place where your ZIP code determines your destiny,” and unfortunately for our children due to decades of intentional and structural racism, this continues to remain true if the government doesn’t do everything in its power to unlock the potential that is within each of our kids.

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.