Mayor Adams gives NY Gov. Hochul pass on remarks about Bronx Black kids not knowing what ‘computer is’

NEW YORK — A day after Gov. Kathy Hochul said Black kids in the Bronx don’t know the meaning of the word “computer,” Mayor Eric Adams gave her a pass on the gaffe, saying Tuesday he knows the governor’s “heart.”

“When you make thousands of speeches, when you’re in front of the cameras all the time, when you’re trying to be authentic and say the things that you’re really feeling, one can sit back and do a critical analysis of every sentence you say,” the mayor said during a Q&A with reporters at City Hall. “I know her heart. I know what she was intending to say, and she was not trying to be disrespectful to the people of the Bronx.”

A day earlier, Hochul said that “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,” she said.

Hochul was speaking publicly to business leaders at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday in an interview geared toward the economic opportunities AI could offer people in poor neighborhoods.

Later that day, she put out a statement saying she regretted her words and that she “misspoke.”

“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 AI,” she said subsequently.

Despite walking back her earlier remarks, Hochul’s initial statement sparked an almost immediate backlash.

Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo (D-Bronx) described them as “harmful, deeply misinformed, and genuinely appalling.”

“Repeating harmful stereotypes about one of our most underserved communities, while failing to acknowledge the state’s consistent institutional neglect, only perpetuates systems of abuse,” she said. “I would invite Gov. Hochul to visit us in the Bronx to experience first-hand the intelligence, resilience, and joy that radiate from Bronx children and residents each day.”

But not everyone in the state’s political firmament has pounced.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Democrat who also represents the Bronx, described her statement as “inartful and hurtful,” but added that: “I don’t believe that is where her heart is.”

Adams has complained more than once about the “word police” being too exacting on him for some of his public comments, and on Tuesday, he appeared to relate to Hochul’s predicament.

“She’s sincere about uplifting the people,” Adams said of Hochul. “We don’t always get it right. We don’t always say the sentence the way we want. We would love to hit rewind sometimes, but the reality [is] that’s not the way life is.”