Is Obama’s ‘True Dat’ Speech Moment Historic?


Obama’s speech this afternoon was stuffed full of the same old thing he’s promised and threatened before. He promised to focus on the economy (after only 5 years!), and threatened that if Congress didn’t move quickly enough he would use the powers of the executive to advance his agenda (we don’t need no steenking constitution!).

There was one oddly historical moment that some noted on social media. While pontificating on the many new social government social programs he plans, he exclaimed:

I’m gonna challenge CEOs from some of America’s best companies to hire more Americans who have what it takes to fill that job opening but have been laid off for so long that nobody’s giving their resume an honest look.

When someone in the audience yelled something in addition to Obama’s remarks, he remarked, “true dat!” and then, catching himself, said, “that too!” instead.

Is this the first use of ebonics in a major presidential speech? Homespun colloquialisms have always been a hallmark of effective political outreach. George Bush was accused of using slang when greeting dignitaries with the familiar, “Yo Blair!” and Hillary Clinton was mocked by conservatives for her attempt at Southern dialect in front of an African-American audience. Joe Biden takes the award for awkward slang use when he said to a mostly African-American audience, “they’re gonna put y’all back in chains!” Even Marco Rubio has been known to quote his favorite rap lyrics on the Senate floor,  after Ted Cruz quoted the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V during the famed drone filibuster.

It’s worth noting this momentous occasion, when the first half-black president, while spouting off the oldest and disproved economic policies of the last century, interjected the first exclamation in ebonics in a presidential speech.

So that’s something.

  • Carmen1409

    I think you have a deep misunderstanding of what ebonics is and probably linguistics in general.

    Other words that are “ebonics”:


    Right On




    Bring it On

    So, no, it’s unlikely this is the first time ebonics has been used in a presidential speech

  • Kimmrz

    Pretty sure, upon watching it over and over, he said “true that,” not “dat”.

  • White Devil

    There’s no chance you’re a public school teacher, is there?

    (Ebonics translation = Shut yo cracka bitch ass up)

  • Chunkdog1

    I’m not really sure how you define the term “ebonics”.

    But, the examples that you gave are nothing more than slang terms, that originated decades ago, and periodically fade in and out of poularity.

    They originated from middle-americsn teens, movies and a possible boxing term.

    yo – early 60’s -middle american teens
    baby – 1950 -MAT
    bogart -based on Humphrey Bogart – originated in the 1969 movie “Easy Rider”
    right on – 1930 – middle-america
    chill – 1930s – middle-america
    bring it on – this term has been used so much, and by so many that the time and place of origination is unsure – it is suspected to originate from the term “bring him on” which is a decades old boxing term
    These terms have been used, off and on, by all Americans, especcially young ones, and are not considered a form of ebonics, but more of a “colloquial language”

    So, Obama’s use, of the term “true dat”, probably is the first time that a sitting president has used ebonics. And used it in a professional setting.

    What a way to impress other world leaders.

  • Josh the baptist

    The only historic thing about Soetoro is he is the first black precedent and the destruction he has brought to America. He is truly fricking historic and will be the first and last black precedent in America because of his massive evilness.