Jill Biden under fire, criticized for remarks regarding the Latino community
She delivered the comments in a speech meant to celebrate Raúl Yzaguirre at the 2022 UnidosUS Annual Conference.
U.S. First Lady Jill Biden faced major scrutiny after delivering a speech on Monday, July 11, at the 2022 UnidosUS Annual Conference (formerly the National Council La Raza), where Raúl Yzaguirre served as president for decades.
Part of the ceremony was meant to honor Yzaguirre’s work and legacy, a Mexican-American advocate for hispanic civil rights who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, bestowed by the president in the East Wing of the White House.
After addressing Yzaguirre’s contributions, she contrasted well-known stereotypes in the U.S., likening the Latino community to “breakfast tacos.”
Jill Biden thanking the diversity of Hispanic communities from bogadas and tacos 🌮— Angie Wong (@angiewong) July 12, 2022
Who wrote this? 🙃 pic.twitter.com/O2DK6XXIyt
In the same breath, she went on to note Latino contributions as “distinct as the bogadas (sic.) from the Bronx,” alluding to small convenience stores unique for their presence around New York City and other East Coast urban meccas, known as bodegas.
Dr. Biden’s expressions, though materially harmless, drew heavy criticism across the political spectrum. The comments suggest the Latino community of the U.S., the largest minority population according to the Census Bureau, is a monolith.
The National Association for Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) reacted via a written statement on Twitter, calling on Dr. Biden and her Communications team to “better understand the complexities of our people and communities.”
“We are not tacos. Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by various diasporas, cultures & food traditions. Do not reduce us to stereotypes,” the NAHJ wrote on Twitter.
NAHJ encourages @FLOTUS & her communications team to take time to better understand the complexities of our people & communities.— NAHJ (@NAHJ) July 12, 2022
We are not tacos.
Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by various diasporas, cultures & food traditions.
Do not reduce us to stereotypes. pic.twitter.com/KQIq5gwsht
The First Lady also noted the administration’s efforts to diversify its workforce.
"He's appointed Latinos to the highest offices in his cabinet. He made sure that legislation like the American Rescue Plan focused on equity. His team worked with all of you — Unidos and so many of the affiliates here today — to get Latinos vaccinated, fight hunger, and invest in your small businesses," Biden said.
However, a new poll published by the New York Times and the Sienna College Institute found that the current administration suffers unfavorable and poor ratings among the Hispanic community, with 41% of those polled “strongly disapproving” of Biden’s favorability.
Her comments certainly do not help and will hopefully serve as a longstanding lesson for the administration’s outreach strategy as it concerns the Latino population.
The idea that all Latinos are represented by bodegas, and breakfast tacos reinforce traditional stereotypes, lumping a largely diversified community into the same group. As delicious as breakfast tacos are, they are not representative of the Latino community, nor should they be used to celebrate the consequential contributions of Yzaguirre.
FLOTUS issued an apology via her press secretary, Michael LaRosa: “The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community.”
The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community.— Michael LaRosa (@MichaelLaRosa46) July 12, 2022