Dr. Jill Biden put her foot in it on Monday while speaking at an event in Texas, drawing a comparison between breakfast tacos and Hispanic communities. Biden was giving a speech at a San Antonio conference for the Latino civil rights and advocacy group UnidosUS and took a moment to praise its former CEO: Raul Yzaguirre, a recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She offered the following in testament to Yzaguirre’s impact:
Raul helped build this organization with the understanding that the diversity of this community, 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, is your strength.
Also, she pronounced “bodega” wrong, which didn’t help matters. But a blanket parallel with a traditionally Mexican dish that Texas has Americanized does not evince uniqueness, nor necessarily a knowledge of the groups of people she aimed to address. “We are not tacos,” the National Association of Hispanic Journalists said in a statement, encouraging Biden and her speechwriters “to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and our communities.”
“Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by various diasporas, cultures & food traditions,” the statement said. “Do not reduce us to stereotypes.”
Conservative pundits have also jumped on the gaffe, with Ted Cruz communications adviser Steve Guest saying that “this isn’t Veep.” Arizona representative Andy Biggs — advocate of racist statutes and (allegedly) of election-fraud conspiracies — commented, “No wonder Hispanics are fleeing the Democratic Party!” Florida senator Marco Rubio, who is Cuban American, tweeted the following:
Responding to the blowback, Biden’s spokesperson attempted a correction. “The first lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” Michael LaRosa said in a statement. Meanwhile, UnidosUS president and CEO Janet Murguía tweeted that she was “honored” to host the First Lady and “privileged to call her a friend.” Regarding Biggs specifically, she added: “The guy who demonizes immigrants and defends Confederate statues? Give me a break.”