This week, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk referred to Lindsey Graham – an unmarried Presidential candidate – as “a bro with no ho.” He further intimated “that’s what we’d say on the South Side.” (Kirk was born in Champaign, IL and is a resident of Highland Park, IL where the median income is $108,393.)
The Washington Post heard that second sentence as “on the street.” Either way, it found “bro with no ho” is not in colloquial use on the South Side or anywhere else and is likely something Kirk made up.
It’s tempting to think of this as a one-off remark from an out-of-touch white guy who’s trying to adopt an urban patois that both enhances his cred while simultaneously critiquing the language patterns of a lower socioeconomic population.
In fact, it’s a pattern of Kirk’s who clearly sees the black neighborhoods as a wasteland of violence and corruption.
Back in April, he referred to “the black community” as “the one we drive faster through.
Then there was the time in 2013 when Kirk said he wanted to spend $500 million dollars to have federal agents roll into South Side neighborhoods and round up gang members:
The freshman Republican senator visited Englewood as part of a deal with Chicago Democratic congressman Bobby Rush to help smooth over tensions from earlier this year. In May, Kirk proposed spending $500 million in federal funds to arrest 18,000 members of the Gangster Disciples street gang as a solution to combat violence. Rush responded that Kirk’s idea was an “upper-middle-class, elitist white boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.” [SNIP] Kirk responded: “Oftentimes when people say you cannot police your way out of this, I would say thank God that Illinois and Chicago didn’t believe that. We could’ve just let Al Capone run the whole place.” The audience scoffed at the decades-old crime reference and tried to explain street crime to Kirk.
At least then he actually toured the neighborhood instead of hitting the gas when he approached it.
As Kirk approaches a re-election fight, it’s also worth remembering the time in 2010 when he said he wanted to “voter integrity” monitors to the South and West sides because Democrats would be likely to “jigger the numbers somewhat” there. Nevermind that voter fraud of this nature barely exists and such tactics are usually intended to suppress minority voter turnout.
So it was interesting to hear Kirk proudly wear the mantle of the South Side this week when he so often seems to want nothing to do with it.