Over the weekend, Hillary Clinton and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took part in a racist joke as part of a skit with Hamilton cast member Leslie Odom Jr. It went about as badly as everyone — except apparently Clinton and de Blasio — would expect.
Here is the joke:
Clinton: Thanks for the endorsement, Bill. It took you long enough.
De Blasio: Sorry, Hillary, I was running on CP time.
Odom: That's not— I don't like jokes like that, Bill.
Clinton: Cautious politician time. I've been there.
The racist aspect of this joke is the reference to CP time, which is typically read as "colored people's time" — the stereotype that people of color, particularly African Americans, are always running late.
At first, de Blasio defended the joke. "It was clearly a staged show," he said on CNN. "It was a scripted show. And the whole idea was to do the counterintuitive and say 'cautious politician time.' Every actor involved, including Hillary Clinton and Leslie Odom Jr., thought it was a joke on a different convention. That was the whole idea. So I think people are missing the point here."
But de Blasio's office followed up with somewhat of an apology in a statement: "Let's be clear: In an evening of satire, the only person this was meant to mock was the mayor himself, period. Certainly no one intended to offend anyone."
This shouldn't be too hard to understand: Even if the use of "CP time" was intended as part of a skit, people don't want their political leaders playing into racist stereotypes that defame minorities. That's especially true for Clinton, whose big advantage over Bernie Sanders has been higher support among minority voters.
During a campaign in which Donald Trump has made actual racist statements, and in a country that has a real history of systemic racism, that doesn't seem like too much to ask for from supposedly progressive politicians.