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Barack Obama Heckled At Detroit Campaign Speech, Some Say Stop Using ‘Cousin Pookie’ Line

Barack Obama Heckled At Detroit Campaign Speech, Some Say Stop Using ‘Cousin Pookie’ Line

Cousin Pookie

Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, left, during a rally, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Former U.S. President Barack Obama was recently heckled while on the campaign trail for Democrats.

Footage captured by MSNBC shows Obama being interrupted during his speech at a campaign rally hosted by the American Federation of Teachers in Detroit on Saturday, Oct. 29.

The first interruption came while Obama condemned harmful rhetoric in politics and called for more civility. He asked the crowd to pray for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, who was recently attacked in their home by an intruder who said he was looking for Nancy to “interrogate” her.

“You’ve got an erosion of just civility, acting right, including in our politics, our Democratic norms,” Obama said. “We’ve got politicians who work to stir up division, to try to make us angry and afraid of one another for their own advantage. And all of it gets amped up, hyped up 24/7 by social media … So they feed you controversy and conflict instead of facts and truth, and sometimes it can turn dangerous.”

“If our rhetoric about each other gets that mean, when we don’t just disagree with people, but we start demonizing them, making wild, crazy allegations about them, that creates a dangerous climate,” Obama continued.

Obama also said elected officials needed to do more to address the issue. While he was speaking, a man in the crowd interrupted him and shouted, “Mr. President!”


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“This is what I mean … There is a process that we set up … Right now I’m talking, you’ll have a chance to talk,” Obama responded, using the moment as an example to drive home his point. “You wouldn’t do that in a workplace. … It’s not how we do things. This is part of the point I want to make. Just basic civility and courtesy works.”

“Not only is this an example of what I’m talking about, but it’s also an example of how we get distracted,” Obama said.

Many people at the rally celebrated Obama’s words to the heckler, but some Black Americans took offense with his “Cousin Pookie” reference.

“I’m assuming if you are here, you are likely to vote, but Cousin Pookie … No, I like Pookie, but sometimes he forgets stuff,” Obama said before the heckling began, which provoked some laughter from the crowd. “So you got to get on him a little bit. you got to talk to him. You know [say] I’m your friend.”

Some people criticized Obama for the remarks online.

“Here we go with this B.S. disrespectful to Black men’ Cousin Pookie’racist trope,” Be The Power Founder Nyheim Way tweeted.

“Dear Barry… Your Pookie and Ray Ray trope is no longer acceptable ‘read the room ‘…times are changing at the speed of light now,” @Reparationist1 tweeted.

“Thank you! It has gotten annoying! It’s funny how he NEVER seems to bring up ‘BUBBA AND COOTER’ while addressing White people!” @MitchhctaM agreed.

It isn’t the first time Obama has mentioned “Cousin Pookie.” It is a character he’s been invoking at campaign rallies since 2007.

“If Cousin Pookie would vote, if Uncle Jethro would get off the couch and stop watching ‘SportsCenter’ and go register some folks and go to the polls, we might have a different kind of politics,” Obama said in March 2007 in Selma, Ala., according to The Washington Post report

“I need you to grab Cousin Pookie to vote; I need you to grab Ray Ray to vote,” he said again in 2008 in North Carolina.

In 2014, Obama brought up Cousin Pookie again.

“You’ve got to grab your friends; you’ve got to grab your co-workers, you know, don’t just get the folks who you know are gonna vote. You’ve got to find Cousin Pookie,” Obama said. “He’s sitting on the couch right now watching football, hasn’t voted in the last five elections. You’ve got to grab him and tell him to go vote.”

It’s a point Way didn’t let go unnoticed.

“Same TROPE from 6 years ago. Same mention of the ‘couch’ which implies that Black men are LAZY and need to get off the couch and go vote. [F*ck] this dude and the whole Democratic party for adopting this TROPE,” Way wrote in a follow-up tweet that included prior footage of Obama talking about Cousin Pookie in earlier years

“Looks like Barack Obama left out his ‘cousin Pookie’ routine while talking to the people of Wisconsin. I wonder why,” @Black_Action tweeted.

See Obama’s full speech from Oct. 29 below, beginning near the 1:14 mark:

PHOTO: Former President Barack Obama campaigns for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, left, during a rally, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)