The audience at a high school in Kentucky was caught trying to make graduations great again when the valedictorian fooled the pro-Donald Trump crowd into applauding a quote from the collusion king, only to find out that the words actually belonged to Barack Obama.
Like Taylor Swift music, Birkenstock stores and Trump’s vision of America, Bell County High School in Pineville is 100 percent white, according to Public School Review. Government data also shows the high school’s students to be disproportionately low-income and underperforming, relative to other high schools in the state. As a testament to the logic of poor, rural, less-educated whites, 80 percent of Bell County’s electorate still voted for Trump—a privately educated, New York billionaire—in the 2016 presidential election.
On Saturday, When Bell County High School’s valedictorian, Ben Bowling, gave his graduation speech, he took the opportunity to make a very important point. The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the attendees burst into applause when Bowling said, “This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google.” He continued:
“Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.” -Donald J. Trump.
The crowd cheered as if Swift were singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at halftime of a NASCAR race. (That might not be right. Maybe they sing the anthem before kickoff.) I bet the crowd even made that high-pitched, screaming “Woohoo!” sound that only Caucasians can make. I think it requires an intricate voice-warmup technique that involves coating one’s vocal cords with a layer of mayonnaise, saying the n-word, then calling the police on a black person to verify with the 911 operator that you are hitting the correct note. To be fair, it might be a mating call. I’m pretty sure that’s why Jeffrey Osborne made “The Woo Woo Song.” I can’t woo-hoo, but yes, Jeffrey, I can woo-woo-woo.
Anyway, when the applause died down, Bowling added: “Just kidding. That was Barack Obama.”
Despite the fact that there are no publicly reported incidents of Trump speaking in complete sentences, the audience did not seem to know it was a joke. According to The Tennessean, Bowling and “MAGA” Twitter (or “Roseanne Twitter”), the attendees fell silent. Here’s one tweet, according to The Tennessean:
Y’all, no lie - the valedictorian just quoted Trump and everyone cheered.. then he told us that it was actually an Obama quote. Best part of the day. I am rolling.
— Alisha Russell (@_alisharussell) June 2, 2018
“The crowd erupted in applause, and before they could even finish clapping, I said I was kidding and the applause quickly died,” Bowling said. “I just thought it was a really good quote. ... Most people wouldn’t like it if I used it, so I thought I’d use Donald Trump’s name. It is southeastern Kentucky, after all.”
Despite what this looks like, the fact that the audience had two totally different reactions to the same words when they found out the quote came from a black guy might not be an indication that the crowd is racist. Maybe the idea of fighting “for a seat at the head of the table” was offensive because they had never seen a black person sitting at a table in Bell County High School’s cafeteria. Perhaps the idea of a black person fighting for anything was scary. Or maybe they couldn’t appreciate the quote until they saw the speaker’s birth certificate.
Bowling graduated with a 4.216 GPA and will go to the University of Kentucky to study biology and pursue a career in medicine.
Hopefully, one day he can find the cure for racism.