Jill Biden caused a flutter comparing Latinos to tacos


That was the message from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and others to First Lady Jill Biden after comments at a Latino conference in San Antonio on Monday that appeared to compare Hispanic people to Taco.

At the annual UnidosUS Conference in Texas, the first lady praised the community’s diversity, saying it’s “as distinct as the Bodgas Bronx, the beauty of Miami’s flowers, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”

Biden also misspelled the word “bodegas” while trying to praise the Latino community, and a video of her remarks has attracted more than two million views.

The reaction was quick. In a tweet, NAHJ wrote that the organization “encourages Tweet embed and her communications team to take the time to better understand the complexities of our people and our communities. We are not tacos. Like Latinos, our heritage is shaped by different diasporas, cultures, and food traditions.”

“Don’t reduce us to stereotypes,” Tweet expired.

By Tuesday morning, Michael Larosa, the first lady’s spokesperson, was tweet apologyshe wrote, “The first lady apologizes because her words conveyed nothing but pure admiration and love for the Latin community.”

Most Latin and Latin groups have not publicly criticized the first lady’s comments. But that hasn’t stopped some Republicans from seizing the analogy and using it to strike her and her husband, President Biden.

re \ come back. Andy Biggs (Republic of Arizona) tweeted a video of Biden’s comments, writing, “Jill Biden says Hispanics are ‘unique’ like tacos and call bodegas ‘bogedas’. No wonder Hispanics are fleeing the Democratic Party!”

The average Washington Post poll of Hispanic Americans showed that 49 percent approve of the way President Biden does his job, a higher proportion of voters as a whole. However, its popularity among Hispanics has declined since last year.

In a series of tweets, Irene Armendariz Jackson, the Republican congresswoman running for Congress in the Texas region that includes El Paso, was particularly sharp. “I am an American born to legal Mexican immigrant parents,” she said chirp. “I don’t identify as Latin. I don’t identify as po-goh-da. I don’t identify as taco for breakfast either. I’m a proud American woman. I’m a proud Hispanic woman. Enough of this stupid racial pandering, please.”

And Daniel Alvarez, director of communications for the Republican National Committee, issued a statement accusing Biden and Democrats of taking the Hispanic community for granted.

“Their attempts to pimp are disrespectful and degrading,” Alvarez said in the statement. “With Jill Biden comparing us to tacos, it makes sense why the vast majority of Hispanics reject this out-of-fact, failed administration and leave the Democratic Party in droves.”

Biden’s remarks at the annual Latinos convention met the usual White House process for such speech, which requires approval from several White House units — including the offices of international government, legislative affairs, and public engagement — according to a person familiar with the speech. , who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal dynamics.

As first lady, Biden has emerged as a major administrative messenger for the Latino community and immigration activists. The role was met with mixed reactions from activists who say they appreciate it as a direct line with the president, but wish they had more direct inroads with policy officials in the White House.

Biden began learning Spanish during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and during the 2020 campaign she began weekly meetings with small groups of Latino congressmen, and shared their concerns with her husband. During the campaign, she also crossed the border to deliver a Christmas meal to asylum seekers at a refugee camp in Matamoros, Mexico.

After her husband’s election, one of Jill Biden’s first acts was to appoint three Latinos to serve as prominent members of her team – Anthony Bernal as Senior Counsel, Carlos Elizondo as Social Secretary and Julissa Renoso as Chief of Staff.

Since then, Biden has participated in the 2022 naturalization ceremony in Bakersfield, California, the day before Cesar Chavez. She toured three cities in honor of Spanish Heritage Month last October, and chose Latin America as the venue for her third solo trip in May, making a six-day diplomatic visit to the region involving three countries.

In her comments on Monday, a person familiar with the matter said, Biden was trying to highlight — however embarrassing — a point of local San Antonio pride: the breakfast taco.

In an interview, Yvette Cabrera, NAHJ’s vice president of Internet, said that after Biden’s comments, the group’s rapid response team met to assess their reaction. She said they realized that the first lady intended to praise the community, but also concluded that her remarks were deaf, and decided to provide a “proportionate” response – a tweet, rather than a full statement on their website.

“I understand her intent was positive – she was trying to praise the uniqueness of Latinos – but what she actually did was resort to a stereotype that doesn’t really represent the diversity of the Latino community in the United States,” Cabrera said. “It was disappointing, because it felt like he was resorting to a shallow stereotype when she could have used the opportunity to examine and give some examples of this diversity.”

Cabrera added that there are a myriad of complex challenges facing society—difficulties in obtaining reproductive health care and abortion, for example, or obstacles to accessing voting—that Biden would have mentioned to showcase her better understanding of Latinos.

“It was great to see her show her understanding and knowledge of these issues,” Cabrera said.

The First Lady isn’t the first political figure to swerve when using food to try to connect with the Latino community. In 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump tweeted a photo of himself eating a taco bowl in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

“The best taco bowls are made at Trump Tower Grill,” Trump wrote at the time. “I love Hispanics!”

Mariana Alfaro and Emily Joskin contributed to this report.

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