Jill Biden termed the state’s diversity as being “as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”
A culturally insensitive comment by US First Lady Jill Biden which spread like wildfire across social media prompted a White House apology Tuesday and outrage from a group which insisted Hispanics “are not tacos.”
During a speech Monday in Texas, Biden hailed the state’s diversity as being “as distinct as the bodegas of the Bronx, as beautiful as the blossoms of Miami, and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio.”
Her remark may have been a nod to a popular dish in heavily Hispanic southern Texas, but it fell flat as a pancake, quickly becoming a focus of derision, scorn and political opportunism.
“The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” Biden press secretary Michael LaRosa said on Twitter.
The mea culpa came the morning after a scathing rebuke by the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, which warned Biden against reducing their diverse community to “stereotypes.”
“We are not tacos,” NAHJ said.
“Using breakfast tacos to try to demonstrate the uniqueness of Latinos in San Antonio demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the diversity of the Latinos in the region.”
The first lady’s Texas trip was intended to appeal to Hispanic voters, traditionally an important electoral component for President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party.
The United States is home to some 62 million Hispanics, according to 2020 census data.
The NAHJ said it urged Biden “to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities.”
With some four months to go before the US midterm congressional elections, Republicans joined in the criticism.
“Hispanics aren’t a monolith,” congressman Carlos Gimenez of Florida posted on Twitter.
“No wonder Hispanics are fleeing the Democratic Party!” congressman Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican, said.
Over the past year, President Biden’s approval rating has dropped from 55 per cent to just 26 per cent among Hispanic voters, a Quinnipiac poll showed.