Sen. Mark Kirk, 55, is a good example of why it never pays to try to keep up with the younger generation.
Instead of looking cool, you wind up saying stupid stuff that makes you look lame.
Kirk was caught on a live microphone Thursday referring to his Republican colleague and presidential hopeful Lindsey Graham as a “bro with no ho.”
I didn’t even know what that meant. My adult son had to fill me in.
“It just means he’s a single man,” my son explained.
In my day, a “bro” was a black man with a ‘fro. As for “ho,” well, the definition of that slur hasn’t changed. Coming from the senator, the “bro with no ho” comment is an embarrassment.
But what was especially offensive was Kirk also saying, “That’s what we’d say on the South Side.”
Wait a minute. Since when did Kirk become a South Sider?
You can’t just proclaim yourself a South Sider. You’ve got to pay your dues by riding those overcrowded buses and trains, living in food deserts, traveling impossible distances to shop and navigating dangerous neighborhoods.
Kirk is from Highland Park — the land of plenty.
I know some people falsely claim to be from this side or that side of Chicago, when you’re really from the suburbs. That’s OK.
But Kirk has repeatedly pretended to have a grasp on what’s going on in these communities.
In 2013, he clashed with U.S. Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Illinois, when he called for the mass arrests of the Gangster Disciples, a gang he said numbered 18,000.
Rush called Kirk’s proposal “a middle-class, elitist white-boy solution to a problem he knows nothing about.”
The senator put his foot in his mouth again in an interview about economic development when he declared that black neighborhoods are the ones that people driver through faster.
I have no doubt that some white people are afraid to drive through black neighborhoods. But there are a lot of white people who work, live and play in black neighborhoods, and I would argue that they are safer in those neighborhoods than the young black males who live there.
A spokesman for Kirk dismissed his boss’ comments Thursday as a joke.
Maybe he should have added that was a joke that was in poor taste and which could prove costly.
The senator was engaging in the kind of bawdy banter some “bros” engage in when women aren’t a part of the conversation. That shows he really doesn’t get it.
Kirk is up for re-election. And two fierce women — U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, and Andrea Zopp, the former head of the Chicago Urban League — are seeking the Democratic nomination to face him.
Either one of these accomplished women could benefit from Kirk’s gaffe. I can’t wait to see how the “bro with no ho” soundbite ends up being used in campaign commercials.
Meantime, Kirk owes the South Side an apology.
While some African-American aldermen are still making an ugly fuss over New York filmmaker Spike Lee calling a movie he’s making in the city “Chiraq,” what Kirk’s doing is worse.
He’s stereotyping the black community, casting it in a negative light and then crowing about it.
Follow Mary Mitchell on Twitter: @MaryMitchellCST