The Monkey in the Room

Maceo Keeling - SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
Maceo Keeling – SCORE Member, Business Owner and Consultant. Photo: Urban News
By Maceo Keeling –

The breaking news from Florida’s gubernatorial race just got very personal for me.

Many Americans have heard about Republican nominee Ron DeSantis’s comment telling Floridians “not to monkey this up!”

Then there’s talk about dog whistles and bullhorns.

What is meant, of course, are whistles and sounds that are so high-pitched most humans can’t hear them—but dogs can. Political dog whistles are subliminal messages and code-speaking for white supremacists and sympathizers who think non-white people won’t understand.

These codes were used throughout the presidential campaign to rally the Trump base into action and move to “Make America great again”—a dog whistle that many people interpreted as returning the country to the pre-Civil Rights era. The message is/was supposed to be subtle, low-key, and acceptable to bigoted listeners—but I suspect that many non-whites have interesting ideas about Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. In any case, his words didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Since the 2016 election many institutions, organizations, communities, and individuals have become emboldened to make biased comments, pull off the hoods, and emerge from the shrouds they have hidden behind for decades. These reenergized practitioners of bigotry have resulted in more discrimination, racial tension, violence, and fear. Many white folk in the Trump base across all demographics (rich and poor, northern and southern) have demonstrated a renewed sense of entitlement from the culture—a renewal emanating from the White House.

Ron DeSantis’s dog-whistle comments are less subtle. Draw your own conclusion about what to think of his comment and why he made excuses for it, instead of an apology. You decide if being articulate and charismatic is reserved “for whites only.” This amplifies his ideology like yelling through a bullhorn!

Now to the “monkey business.”

People have said they never heard the statement, “monkey this up,” but one of the largest companies in America (AT&T) once made a loathsome and despicable comment and illustration in the company’s publication called Focus.

In the September 30, 1993 issue is a drawing on the “Fun ‘n’ Games” page. The illustration showed characters on several continents conversing by telephone. All the characters were human, except the one in Africa—which was a monkey. This publication was sent to the company’s 300,000 employees around the world. The company said the drawing, done by a freelance artist and submitted by an outside design firm that produces the magazine, had “slipped by its editors.”

Perhaps this is no connection to the DeSantis comment, but its destructive, divisive, and vitriolic impact cannot and should not be minimized or ignored. Read between the lines… that was pretty articulate, huh?

Answer the call!


Dr. King had a dream, now we must have vision. The Conscious Call radio program airs every Monday at 11:30 a.m. on WRES-FM 100.7. In a collaboration with the radio program, the Urban News will help keep readers informed about events, programs, news, and the progress of The Conscious Call. For more information, contact the Conscious Call at (828) 989-6999 and visit

The opinions and statements made in this column are solely the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of The Urban News.

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