Gov. Hochul says she ‘misspoke’ when she said some ‘black kids’ don’t know the word ‘computer’

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul apologized this week after saying there are black kids in the Bronx who don’t know what the word “computer” means.

Hochil made the remarks during an address at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, California.

“Now what we have is the money to build a phenomenal super computer that is gonna be accessible to the researchers in New York, college students, will attract more federal grants, and this is how we lay down the mark,” Hochul said. “No state has done this. In fact, I talk to a lot of other people who say, ‘I wish my governor had thought of that first.’ I say, ‘No no, this is New York. We like to be first,’ with all due respect to you from other states.”

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks about her state’s $400 million “Empire AI” initiative at the Milken Institute’s event. (Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

“It’s sort of our attitude,” Hochul continued. “We will be the best, we will be the first, and I want others to follow, because right now we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word ‘computer’ is. They don’t know. They don’t know these things.”

Her remarks were intended to generate publicity for the state’s $400 million “Empire AI” initiative funding artificial intelligence in the state.

The governor is focused on expanding access to training on cutting-edge technology to children in low-income areas, including the Bronx.

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Hochul was speaking at the 27th annual Milken Institute Global Conference, held in Los Angeles, California. (Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

“I want the world opened up to all of them because when you have their diverse voices innovating solutions through technology, then you’re really addressing society’s broader challenges,” Hochul added at the Milken Institute.

The governor’s comments caused immediate backlash from officials and lawmakers in the Bronx.

Deeply disturbed by [Hochul’s] recent remarks and the underlying perception that she has of Black and brown children from [the Bronx],” said New York State Assembly Member Karines Reyes. “Our children are bright, brilliant, extremely capable, and more than deserving of any opportunities that are extended to other kids. Do better.”

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In this aerial view taken from the 86th floor of the Empire State Building, the Bronx is seen in New York City, with Yankee Stadium visible in the center. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

“I’m deeply troubled by the recent statements made by [Hochul]. The underlying perception conveyed about Black and brown children from the Bronx is not only disheartening but also deeply concerning,” fellow Assembly Member John Zaccaro Jr. said.

Hochul apologized for her comments in a statement to the New York Post, saying she “misspoke” during her speech and regrets the mistake.

“Of course Black children in the Bronx know what computers are,” Hochul told the Post. “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 AI. That’s why I’ve been focused on increasing economic opportunity since Day One of my Administration.”

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