Gov. Chris Christie Calls a Black Man “Boy” in Paterson, NJ

This week, Governor Chris Christie let his famous command of his own image slip and said something to an African-American man – in a church in Paterson – that we have not heard in many, many years in New Jersey. In America.

FYI: Exchange between Christie and the man, in the video above, is from NJTV’s NJ Today with Mike Schneider [March 12, 2013]. Here is the full broadcast. Exchange appears in two places; starting the show (:01-:08) and at 4:28.

Comments (50)

  1. Bill Orr

    And inexcusable. Also, Christie recently referred to Speaker Oliver as the African American female Speaker of the Assembly. Would she refer to him as the white male governor? I don’t think so.  

    Racial polarization and slurs should have no role in NJ politics.

  2. toaonua

    …he’s playing constantly to the right-wing base. I think he’ll have a hard time keeping his temper under control as he sees the competition gaining momentum and his “sure-lock” on reelection slipping away in the days and weeks to come. We must keep up the pressure, relentlessly, to make sure this man is gone from office in 2014.

  3. deciminyan

    1. Calling a black man by a racial epithet.

    2. Urging the press to “take a bat” to a powerful Democratic woman.

    3. Calling a Navy SEAL and true American hero an “idiot.”

    4. Calling another female legislator a “jerk” because she criticized the governor’s use of a state helicopter for personal business.

    5. Dismissing the comments of a female school teacher at a town hall meeting.

    Does Chris Christie have the temperament to lead a state of 8.5 million people?

  4. Jeff Gardner

    I’m sure the Governor and friends will claim this was something other than what it sounds like. But, no matter how much benefit of the doubt I try to give, it sure sounds exactly like it sounds.

  5. robosz

    Look for the next few Town Halls (you know, “communicating with the public” and constituent service) to go back to the winning strategy of working the room in places where the public is totally on your side.  Next stop, Mendham?

  6. johnleesandiego

    “Language Matters Lady and Gentlemen, Language Is A Window Into Attitude” ~ NJ Gov Chris #Christie  

  7. Marie Corfield

    Calling Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver a liar, and Assemblyman Reed Guscioria ‘Numbnuts’ and justifying it by stating that his mother used to call him that. Name-calling is the most basic form of bullying, and is the last resort of one who does not have an educated opinion or response. He signed the nation’s strictest anti-bullying law. The irony of that should not be lost.

  8. southernbluedog

    Even if we give Gov. Christie the benefit of the doubt about him not knowing it was a racist thing to say, it’s still extremely disrespectful to refer to any adult male (regardless of race) as a “boy.”

    Now, I must ask about the use of the word “boy” in this exchange between President Bartlett and Robert Ritchie in ‘The West Wing.’ Is Ritchie calling the President a boy, or is he just using boy as part of an idium?

  9. kfoster

    he’ll start telling women how not to get raped…….Just to get back in the good graces of the CPAC, Star Wars bar scene.

  10. firstamend07

    Saw this the other day. It was DEFINITELY a put down.

    He must be held accountable.  

  11. Hetty Rosenstein

    This is not okay. and to the extent that this is not being covered by the traditional press, it is especially not okay.  I urge everyone to post this video on their face book page and alert everyone they know about it.  Disgusting.  

  12. deciminyan

    Early in his term, Christie fired the only African-American justice on the New Jersey Supreme Court. Not for any judicial misconduct, but for political reasons.

    I don’t think Christie is a racist. But he is disrespectful to a large number of his constituents, not just African-Americans. And he does hang around the GOP leadership, many of whom are racist.

  13. firstamend07

    Ms. Hayes does a very good job and is fearless.

  14. firstamend07

    It seems that most people are saying he is not a racist ,but ,in his typical way,insensitive and crass.

  15. Lovepubliced

    About 4:40 in.

  16. firstamend07

    Christie uses words to control a conversation .This insensitive remark is classic.

    He could have said ” Sir” but he made the decision to say ” boy”.

    The man is insensitive to anyone who disagrees with him.

    For some reason that is a badge of honor in this State.

    THAT is a shame.

  17. rubybegone

    many of our school kids call each other worst than that even using the “N “word frequently in conversations .

  18. firstamend07

    NJTV did a follow up tonight on the ” boy” comment and the Governor was caught running away from Reporter Michael Aron as he was asking for a comment.  

  19. firstamend07

    Check out the time frame between 4:15 -4:55 of the broadcast.

    Ever see Christie move so quick??

  20. Erik Preuss

    But the video is cut off after he says “I hear you boy.” It’s hard to say that is a racial slur when we don’t even know what he said after that. I think this is video is grasping for straws implying Christie is a racist. He may well be a racist, but this video doesn’t show anything, especially with the editing job that cuts the film right after “boy.” I can’t stand Christie, but it isn’t as if he said “Shut up boy!” or something along those lines.  

  21. firstamend07

    The Governor was and will be called out on his ignorance.

    His ignorance IS a part of this campaign. If you want an ignorant man to be in the top office in NJ then vote for Governor Ignorant.

    Whether hisignorance is pointed out on this site or by reporters is not important. BUT IT MUST BE POINTED OUT!  

  22. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    … by her race and gender and not her name. This week. In the same ‘Town Hall’.

  23. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    And by the way, referring to Oliver by race and gender? Imagine for a second, Christie ever making that distinction in referring to his white male education commissioner, Chris Cerf.

  24. kfoster

    whether he meant it to be racist or not. This is just more proof that he unravels under pressure. We don’t need someone that reckless running our state.

  25. MediaBob

    Pauses, inflection, timing – they all affect meaning. So, it doesn’t sound like Ritchie is calling President Bartlett anything. It sounds more like “Gee I don’t know.”

    By contrast, it sounds like he’s calling this man “boy.”

  26. jersey on the potomac

    I don’t get that from this sound bite. To me, it sounds not like “Boy, I hear you,” but “boy I hear you.” The meaning is very different.  

  27. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    I knew the quote from The West Wing you were going for the minute you wrote ‘The West Wing’. Posse Comitatus, one of the best, with many revelations in the storyline.

    No, though – I don’t consider it equivalent, though I respect that you might. I agree with MediaBob, above. Pauses, inflection, and I’d add pitch. Not the same.

    Besides, I have to note that though West Wing’s Ritchie character is a vacuous SOB, he is still a Governor speaking to a President. Both in positions of immense power. Both white men. In the incident this week, a white man of immense power is addressing a black man of a different status in that room – a citizen. Draw your own conclusions about what it means that Christie said “boy”. But I’d say hardly the same as the scene you recall in Posse Comitatus.  

  28. Rosi Efthim (Post author)
  29. firstamend07

    This should be on YOUTUBE and on all other venues.

    Where are the tech savvy???!!!

    This MUST be put on POLITCKERNJ AND  given to the BUONO campaign.

  30. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    We don’t have a say in what Sen. Buono speaks about in her campaign. Not everything has to be campaign-focused. Christie’s behavior is questionable whether or not somebody’s running for governor against him.  

  31. firstamend07

    Christie’s insensitivity speaks for itself( and is its own issue).

    lol.I stand corrected!

  32. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Yes, and notice that he also plays the exchange in the first few seconds of the broadcast – from :01 to :08 seconds.

    I sent the Michael Aron portion of that broadcast – his full coverage of the Town Hall – to quite a few reporters today, so they could see what was said in the context of the event.  

  33. KendalJames

    This video wasn’t necessarily made to show Chrostie as a racist. I think the punch line here is that he is insensitive, oblivious, erratic and hypocritical (with regard to that last bit where Christie himself says how language matters and is a window into attitude). It’s hard to dispute that he shouldn’t have said the word “boy.”

  34. mmgth

    Yeah, that’s what they’re saying over at Huffington Post. Nonsense. Christie is doing his put down shtick. He was aggravated by the man’s repeated questioning of his diverting funds from public schools.

  35. deciminyan

    Christie is no school kid. He’s the leader of one of the most diverse states in the union. His epithets and bullying set a poor example. He’s acting like the stereotypical rich pampered school kid, not like a governor.

  36. vmars

    I’ve seen school kids punch each other, so Christie should start punching Shelia Oliver?

    And I’ve seen school  kids knock the books out of other kids’ hands, so Christie should go up to Ray Lesniak and knock his phone to the floor?

    I’ve also seen school kids shoot up a school in Colorado …

  37. Joebluejersey11

    on someone..

    Lets not forget at another one of his rallies, Chrisite told a woman who was protesting that “she should go down on someone tonight”…… This fraud of a Governor has become the state’s embarrassment.  The problem though isn’t with Chrisite who is a fraud, but actually the Republicans in NJ who allow this embarrassment to continue.

  38. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    In case you’ve forgotten the tasteless remark Christie made to a woman in public, feministing has the clip.  

  39. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Yeah, that sure is a man who doesn’t want to answer that question. Go away, reporter, ya botherin’ me. Gotta get in this here car now. I mean now.

  40. firstamend07

    When pressured he does  “wilt” a little.

    Christie is a control freak. When he cannot keep control he gets a little perturbed.

    He IS a little perturbed in this video!

  41. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    I’ve posted a link to the full video from in the diary. If you don’t like the edit, clearly intended to repeat what Christie said, and want the whole thing, view the NJTV vid.

    Christie tends to lose the control an adult can usually draw on when confronted with someone who challenges him. State control of Paterson’s school system is a big issue for many Paterson residents. And Christie was being challenged from the audience on a sensitive topic. I’ll leave it to you to determine if Christie is a racist; there are conflicting opinions on that, and it can be argued.

    But I’d argue that had he said, I hear ya, dude, or I hear ya, fella there would be zero impact. The use of the word boy when a white man of immense power is addressing an adult black man is a jaw-dropper. I don’t think Christie would ever have said that if he had his wits about him; he’d have been more careful. But in a moment of heat – and this governor spouts off a lot when anybody dares to confront him – he’s revealed in a way that his incredibly controlled, stage-managed public appearances don’t always allow you to see.

    Not for nothing is the fact that this was Christie’s first Town Hall appearance in NJ’s 3rd largest city! In 102 Town Halls. And only his second-ever in an urban church. You don’t see Christie make too many public appearances in minority majority situations. If words matter, as Christie says himself, because they reveal attitude, questions about what attitude Christie reveals – calling a black man “boy” and referring to Sheila Oliver only by race and gender – are entirely in-bounds.  

  42. Erik Preuss

    I agree with most of what you said…and  I agree using the terminology “boy” is certainly offensive. BUT, what I take issue with is the above video which clearly insinuates that he is a racist. Maybe he is, like i said before, I really don’t know; and I don’t think there is enough evidence to say for sure. As a result, I think the above video is over the top.

    Also Rosi, I agree with you that his tendency to spout off the way he does at Town Halls is extremely disconcerting. BUT, I would argue I think that’s part of why he is so popular in NJ and the Republican party. People get a sense that Christie, for better or worse, is genuine; which is a rare trait among politicians today. While I don’t agree with that sentiment, it is very popular in our state.

    The reason I spoke up about this video is because I believe we are beating a dead horse with his Town Hall soundbites. Yes they are ridiculous and completely unbecoming of a governor, much less a potential presidential candidate. But the bottom line is, no one in New Jersey seems to care about them. The idea that these sound bites make him “vulnerable” is foolish. His policies make him vulnerable, period.  

  43. robosz

    Your last paragraph sums up the more telling aspect of the Town Hall campaign: it is almost always preaching to a pre-selected choir.  If it is taxpayer-funded and meant to be “constituent services” then surely Dem-leaning and/or urban districts deserve greater “service” then one Town Hall out of every fifty.  Democratic and Independent tax dollars fund this Republican-heavy service.  It would be interesting if demographic data of “voters served” had been counted along the way; I am sure there would not be a bi-partisan mix of attendees if you added all the Town Hall audiences together.

    The other pro-Christie spin that defenders of the Town Halls use — that he is connecting with citizens and “listening” to the voters — doesn’t ring true either, especially if there is very little QnA, or the only questions are friendly softball questions from fans who want to appear on the Christie YouTube channel, where the Governor of NJ is in the broadcast business 24/7.  A true Town Hall can be a step into the lion’s pit to face those citizens who disagree with you, or citizens who want answers to clearly-relevant problems of the day.  If the Gov is such a tough talker and straight shooter, there should be more Town halls like Paterson, not less.    

  44. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    The video – i mean the one we posted – has almost 35,000 views and sparked both NJ and national news coverage. And considerable sharing along social media.

    PolitickerNJ finally reported on it today, but with some illuminating quotes from African-American NJ leaders like Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Sen. Ron Rice, James Gee and Trenton Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, who is not black.

    These are all folks already not in Christie’s corner. But that’s not the point. The point is with about 35,000 views and climbing it’s got people thinking and sending to their friends. And that’s not bad for a citizen-produced alternative view of Gov. Christie’s usually-disciplined public face or (taxpayer-funded) YouTube smackdowns.

    There’s not much negative press coverage of Christie. This has kicked loose a lot of coverage that asks harder questions about Christie than we usually get. And that’s not due to us, or the person who made our video. It’s Christie showing who he really is in front of an audience he usually chooses not to go before. I’d urge you not to fall into the trap of thinking Christie is invulnerable. They used to say George Bush was too.  

  45. deciminyan

    Now, if only the mainstream media would do some real investigative journalism into Christie’s dealings in addition to his bluster. The AshBritt deal and the lottery privatization don’t pass the smell test, but so far no one’s found the smoking gun. I wish the mainstream media had the resources to do true investigative reporting like the New York Times did with halfway houses. But even that scandal had its 15 minutes of fame and took a back seat to Christie’s name-calling. Alas!

  46. Erik Preuss

    If you read my whole post I pointed out that I don’t think any of his sound bites make him vulnerable. I think his policies make him very vulnerable if they are exposed to the public…Christie is brash, arrogant, and a bully. He’s been pushing people around in town halls for four years now, but regardless how often us liberals point it out, it has no effect, hence why i said it feels like we are beating a dead horse.The mainstream media is too infatuated with him to go after him for any of these town hall dust ups. As a result, the focus shouldn’t be on his “ignorance” or temper, but rather on policies that have New Jersey’s economy cratering while the rest of the country’s economy improves.  

  47. vmars

    He was pretty invulnerable.  The GOP, not so much, but George did OK. :-)

  48. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Let’s keep name-calling to a minimum here, please.

  49. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    We do plenty of work writing about Christie policies. And you’re absolutely right that they contribute to his vulnerability. But this isn’t a binary situation – either/or. Focusing on his inability to control himself, and displaying remarkably ignorant attitudes when addressing an audience different from the demographics he usually appears before, illustrate how much of what we know of Chris Christie is scripted.

    Pull that curtain away and tougher questions are more likely to be asked of him. And I would expect many of those to be harder looks at the impact of his policies. Fight on all fronts.  

  50. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Yes, he was re-elected, but by only 51%. Had the Democrats been a shade better, had the lies of the Iraq War been recognized earlier by more people still riding on Mission Accomplished, had Katrina and his spectacular mismanagement of it happened just before that election rather than just after it, etc etc he wouldn’t have won that election. Coulda woulda shoulda.

    My point wasn’t that he wasn’t re-elected, or didn’t do considerable damage while he was president. It’s that in his first term, you’d have been hard-pressed to get the average American to believe Bush would so universally be scorned as a worst president in the heady days when most Americans believed him, trusted him, and wanted to have that beer with him.

    I’m arguing that public perception of Christie is shiftable.  


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