Elec­tion board’s at­tempt at ‘Chica­goese’ isn’t ev­ery­one’s kind of tweet

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY EMILY MCTAV­ISH, STAFF RE­PORTER em­c­tavish@sun­times.com | @EmMcT

The Chicago Board of Elec­tions Com­mis­sion­ers has apol­o­gized for a so­cial me­dia post that a spokesman said was sup­posed to be a light­hearted at­tempt at “Chica­goese” but that some in­ter­preted as dis­re­spect­ful to mi­nor­ity vot­ers.

Jim Allen, the board’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor, said he sent a tweet Thurs­day from the board’s ac­count in re­sponse Thurs­day to a tweet by In­di­vis­i­ble Chicago-South Side, a pro­gres­sive grass­roots or­ga­ni­za­tion with neigh­bor­hood groups across the city, pro­mot­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion and early vot­ing. The orig­i­nal tweet, which has since been deleted, called for res­i­dents to come to the board’s Loop Su­per Site “right’chere” at 175 W. Wash­ing­ton St.

Re­ply­ing to the tweet, Allen, on the board’s ac­count, wrote: “We wel­come ev­ery el­i­gi­ble voter from Chicago/Diss plazes open to evvy­body inda com­mudy.”

Allen said Fri­day the tweet was meant to be in the same spirit of the In­di­vis­i­ble post and he was try­ing to use “Chica­goese” — a par­ody of the Chicago ac­cent/di­alect made pop­u­lar on “Satur­day Night Live” sketches from the early 1990s. Those sketches fea­tured sev­eral ac­tors, in­clud­ing Ge­orge Wendt and Chris Far­ley, who would play Bears fans dis­cussing the team. How­ever, Betsy Rubin, In­di­vis­i­ble Chicago South Side, said she wrote their tweet to sound like a car­ni­val barker en­cour­ag­ing early vot­ing.

“My take­away from this is do not try this again,” Rubin said. “It’s too easy to get things mis­in­ter­preted.”

Erica Nan­ton called the series of replies by the board dis­re­spect­ful to mi­nori­ties. In Nan­ton’s Face­book post on Thurs­day night, she said she saw the tweets af­ter she had dropped off hun­dreds of voter reg­is­tra­tions with the board that had been col­lected by the group GoodKids MadCity.

In re­sponse, Allen said he apol­o­gized to in­di­vid­u­als who were of­fended by the posts.

“When you have to ex­plain a joke, it’s not work­ing,” Allen said. “If there are peo­ple who are tak­ing it a dif­fer­ent way, it’s not worth it.”

In a Face­book com­ment Nan­ton wrote to Allen, say­ing: “There’s lay­ers to the speech used beyond ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion but rather of a peo­ple that have been be­ing dis­re­spected.”

Nan­ton, com­mu­nity en­gage­ment man­ager for the Chicago Votes Ac­tion Fund, could not be reached for fur­ther com­ment.

Allen said he would not use that SNL style of “Chica­goese” on so­cial me­dia again.

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