September 5th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
2 years ago

Congressman says he didn't know 'uppity' has racial overtones

A Georgia congressman told a Capitol Hill newspaper he thought the the Obamas were 'uppity.'
A Georgia congressman told a Capitol Hill newspaper he thought the the Obamas were 'uppity.'

(CNN) – Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland was unaware a word he used to describe Barack and Michelle Obama on Thursday carries racial overtones, a spokesman for the congressman told CNN.

Westmoreland, who represents Georgia's third district, described the Obamas as "uppity" when asked by reporters in Washington to compare Repubican vice presidential canidate Sarah Palin with the wife of the Democratic presidential candidate.

“Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they’re a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they’re uppity,” Westmoreland said, according to the Capitol Hill Newspaper the Hill.

Westmoreland's spokesman, Brian Robinson, insisted the congressman did not know the word has been used with a racially derogatory intent against African-Americans.

"When describing the Obamas as part of an elite class, Congressman Westmoreland also used a synonym for elitist: uppity. He was using the dictionary definition of the word, which is having 'an inflated self-esteem' or 'snobbish.' He stands by that characterization and thinks it accurately describes the Democratic nominee. He was unaware that the word had racial overtones and he had absolutely no intention of using a word that can be considered offensive," Robinson said.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for Obama's campaign, would not comment to CNN, but told The Hill, " “Sounds like Rep. Westmoreland should be careful throwing stones from his candidate’s eight glass houses."

Robinson said it is important to note the Obama campaign did not note the racial overtones of the word in its response.

"Congressman Westmoreland and Senator Obama may not agree on much, but at least they can agree that Congressman Westmoreland was not referring to race," Robinson said.

soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. george

    waaaaaaaaaah
    race card here, race card there, call someone a "bush" there, and hope you get elected.

    September 5, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  2. David

    This is exactly why Howard Dean called them "the white party". They're a bunch of bigots. I can't wait till that entire generation of old bigots just dies off. Hopefully their offspring will not be affected by their wickedness.

    September 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Another Ex-Republican for Obama

    And of course, our party uses code words like this to indicate our surprise that a man like this can actually be educated and intelligent and ready to lead the country. That's just what we do...and some people are just dumb enough to believe it.

    How's that for calling it like it is from an insider.

    Begrudgingly, Obama'08-'12 (only)

    September 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. PUMA PALIN

    Obama throwing the racial cared eh? YAWN

    September 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. Nick

    I refuse to be further be divided!!

    September 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. Al

    That's a likely story... but, what the heck, as an Obama supporter I can afford to be generous. Maybe the guy WAS just dumb.

    September 5, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. Not a fan of the 'Cuda

    A GOP congressman from Georgia doesn't know uppity ticks off African Americans? Has he lived in this country long? Or ever talked to anyone who isn't as ignorant as himself?

    September 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. gluvnast

    watch out for those code words!! "elitist", "community organizer", "exotic"

    all of them are of coded racial codes to fear white americans

    September 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. whiteboy for obama

    keep trying. it's not about race,anymore. its about americans.

    September 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Pam

    Another out of touch republican. Sigh.

    September 5, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  11. Mike

    sounds like he ate some Alaskan caribou from the barracuda.

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Ken in Los Angeles

    Oh my goodness! Congressman Westmoreland from Georgia? If so, the Congressman most certainly knew the racial connotations in using the term, "uppity." As a born-and-bred Southerner, I have known the racial undertones (or even more overt tones) in this adjective for most of my life! The good Congressman is just pleading typical ignorance to hide some ingrained racism! That word is nearly as insulting as some worse descriptives. By the way, I am a non-racist caucasian.

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  13. CT Belle

    So he's from Georgia and he doesn't know uppity is racial. Oh please, give me a break

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  14. McCain the candidate is not the same man

    Way to represent Georgie, Congressman. Well done.
    Why would a Congressman in Georgie even want to know about any issues with racial overtones. Racism hasn't really been an historical problem there... unless slavery counts.

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. Franky

    "Westmoreland's spokesman, Brian Robinson, insisted the congressman did not know the word has been used with a racially derogatory intent against African-Americans."

    Ohhh yeah, just like I didn't know how to spell Chihuahua! LOL!!! And you know what? People expect that things like this won't care. This is how our society works! And once again, last time I checked, no other balck person ever had a chance in our nations 200 year history...

    Is not a big deal but is still a big deal...that's how our society works!! You win some, you lose some...

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. elle

    uppity????
    has he watch Cindy McCain lately ???

    I like Michele, she comes across as pretty down to earth to me .

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Joe

    Uppity has racial tones? Are you kiddinng me? This is getting ridiculous. Soon every word will have racial tones. I never knew "uppity" had racial tones. So what is the racial tone?

    September 5, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. s

    so he just parrots whatever someone elses says, without knowing that it means? Typical republican.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  19. Spencer from VA

    What else do you expect from a GOP redneck. As I stated before, I spotted probably 5 african -americans out of 20,000 people at the RNC. That just goes to show how diverse that party is. A bunch of elitists and warmongers.

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Just another typically mean-spirited Republican shooting his mouth off again and getting into trouble over it! No wonder the GOP'll lose this election and never become the true majority party they once bragged they were! Throw the bums out-they've wrecked the country and don't care about anyone but the rich!

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Concerned INDEPENDENT CT voter

    He knew... & so what!... we can all see the racial undertones... this country needs to get out of it's own way on this whole race issue... people are suffering

    -V

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Mike, TX

    "Uppity" DOES NOT HAVE RACIAL OVERTONES.

    Those that think so are just STUPID.

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. baby mama

    Yo Yo Yo,,,,,,,,,ooops..sorry how silly can all this get

    September 5, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. Mikey

    Yeah, right! But this is probably just another attempt to distract from the issues. The McCain camp has said they want this election to be about personalities, not issues.

    The unemployment rate climbed to 6.1%. That's an issue.

    September 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Tim

    Just goes to show you how much the Repubs just don't get it.

    September 5, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
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