Sarah Palin criticized the Obama administration on Wednesday for its handling of the Benghazi attack. Palin posted a Facebook message attacking President Barack Obama for his "shuck and jive," a phrase with racial connotation.
Palin's Facebook post, entitled "Obama's Shuck and Jive Ends With Benghazi Lies," discussed recently released emails that disclose more details on the Benghazi, Libya, attack.
"Why the lies? Why the cover up?" she writes. "Why the dissembling about the cause of the murder of our ambassador on the anniversary of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil? We deserve answers to this. President Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end."
The phrase "shuck and jive" caught more attention than Palin's overarching message, and Twitter soon exploded with criticism over Palin's choice of words.
"Shuck and jive" has been used in association with Obama before. Back in 2008, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was supporting Hillary Clinton at the time, claimed that Obama attempted to "shuck and jive" with the media. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also used the phrase during a briefing last year, for which he was criticized by conservatives.
After Cuomo's comment, CNN commentator Roland Martin offered an explanation of the racial connotations behind "shuck and jive":
“Shucking and jiving” have long been words used as a negative assessment of African Americans, along the lines of a “foot shufflin’ Negro.” In fact, I don’t recall ever hearing the phrase used in reference to anyone white.
According to a story in Newsday, “The 1994 book ‘Juba to Jive, a Dictionary of African-American Slang,’ says ‘shuck and jive’ dates back to the 1870s and was an ‘originally southern 'Negro' expression for clowning, lying, pretense.’"
Washington Post reporter Erik Wemple notes the etymology of the phrase, via the Online Etymology Dictionary: "[B]lack slaves sang and shouted gleefully during corn-shucking season, and this behavior, along with lying and teasing, became a part of the protective and evasive behavior normally adopted towards white people in ‘traditional’ race relations.”