'I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it': AOC denies she 'affected' her accent when talking to a predominantly black audience, sparking fierce Twitter debate over whether the freshman Democrat is 'real' (17 Pics)

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has denied accusations she affected her accent when talking to a predominantly black audience at a conference held by the Rev. Al Sharpton Friday.
The freshman Democrat's jarring accent was quickly criticized online by users who called the accent 'fake' and cringe-worthy. But AOC immediately hit back, defending it as authentic on Twitter.
'Folks talking about my voice can step right off,' she wrote on Twitter. 'Any kid who grew up in a distinct linguistic culture & had to learn to navigate class enviros at school/work knows what's up. My Spanish is the same way.'
'As much as the right wants to distort & deflect, I am from the Bronx. I act & talk like it, *especially* when I'm fired up and especially when I'm home. It is so hurtful to see how every aspect of my life is weaponized against me, yet somehow asserted as false at the same time,' she continued.
Ocasio-Cortez grew up in the Bronx until she was five, when her family purchased a home in Yorktown Heights in upstate Westchester County. She returned to the Bronx after graduating from Boston University in 2011.    
 'Ain't nothing wrong with that,' the freshman Democrat drawled while speaking on Friday at Sharpton's National Action Network conference in the Sheraton Times Square in Manhattan.
'I'm proud to be a bartender. Ain't nothing wrong with that,' Ocasio-Cortez said. 'There's nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy.' 
The speech sparked a fierce debate on Twitter over whether AOC is 'real'.  
Conservative pundits quickly pointed out the jarring accent that Ocasio-Cortez seemed to slip into repeatedly, which sounded halfway between Southern drawl and Boricua twang.
'We've played a lot of clips of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she doesn't talk like that in a single one of them. That's fake, that what that is,' Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson said on his Friday show.
Other critics from the right took to Twitter to mock Ocasio-Cortez for her newfound accent. 
'I got five seconds into the video of AOC putting on an accent before cringing out,' wrote Washington Free Beacon reporter Alex Griswold. 
'Ocasio-Cortez speaks in an accent that she never uses while telling a room of predominately black people that there is nothing wrong with them folding clothes, cooking, and driving other people around on a bus for a living,' wrote Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra.
'She literally pulled a Hillary Clinton,' he continued, referring to Clinton's habit of slipping into Southern accents in front of certain audiences during her Senate campaign. 
Congressional Candidate Aja Smith wrote: '@AOC it was an insult for you to try a FAKE southern accent to impress people in a crowd...you might as well put on black face!'
'What’s with AOC changing her accent every time she goes to a new place to try and fit in? So fake', another user added. 
She was branded condescending by others, who wrote: 'Congratulations I think your fake accent was better than Hillary's - just a little condescending don't you think to try immitate (sic) the way others speak?' 
Another added: '@AOC mocks this African American audience by using an accent she thinks they ALL have. To Cortez, everything is about identity politics and every black person sounds like this. Shame.'

But others rushed to defend Ocasio-Cortez, saying: 'I’m a Nigerian, black, educated lawyer. At any given time my accent goes every which way because how I talk w/ my parents, w/ my friends, & at work differs.
It’s a privilege/skill to even be able to codeswitch. Y’all can’t turn us against@AOC. Try again.'
'Isnt she from the Bronx? Please correct my if I'm wrong but her accent sounds like a New York one. If you think thats "ghetto" Mark you need to get your head out of your ass', another added.  
Several commentators referenced code-switching, alternating between languages or varieties of language in conversation. 
One said: 'People who don’t understand the concept of code-switching and how it is part of the lives of people of color need to talk to more people.'
Another added: 'It's hilarious that white people think this is some kind of "gotcha!" for them to use against @AOC, when they don't get that code-switching is something that virtually every professional person of color learns as a teenager. 20% of the black retail experience is specifically this.' 
At the event on Friday, Ocasio-Cortez used her speech to call for reparations to black Americans for slavery.
The freshman Democrat is pushing the controversial policy that has gained traction among the field of candidates bidding to oust President Donald Trump  in the 2020 presidential election.
Ocasio-Cortez used her platform at an Al Sharpton-sponsored conference in New York on Friday to call for the 'examining and pursuing an agenda of reparations' - among a list of other left-leaning policies including support for free public colleges.
Speaking about her cornerstone Green New Deal, which would entail a radical government-led overhaul of the economy, Ocasio-Cortez said she 'would not shy away' from bold decisions on health care, wages and prison reform.
'That is the moral political and economic underpinning of making bold investments and dignified jobs because that is the necessary plan to fix the pipes in Flint [Michigan] and clean the air in the South Bronx,' the rising political star said.
She went on to call for unionized energy jobs for transitioning workers in Appalachia and West Virginia, as well as single-payer health care and Medicare-for-all.
Adding: 'Tuition-free public colleges and universities to prepare our nation for the future, and for the end of mass incarceration, the war on drugs, examining and pursuing an agenda of reparations and fixing the opioid crisis too.'

Ocasio-Cortez said the policies she had in mind were generational rather than geared around a presidential cycle. 
The recently sworn-in Congresswoman's support of progressive policies highlights a shift further left by the Democratic Party, whose leading figures in the past - including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders - all came out against it.
It remains unclear how the reparations would be delivered, however.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who introduced a bill on the subject in January, said that 'the impact of slavery and its vestiges continues to affect African Americans and indeed all Americans in communities throughout our nation.'
She said the measure, formally known as the 'Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans Act', would examine the 'institution of slavery in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present, and further recommend appropriate remedies.'  
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