September 30, 2022

First lady Jill Biden is apologizing after saying Latinos are as “unique” as “breakfast tacos” at an event in San Antonio, Texas, her spokesperson Michael LaRosa said. 

“The First Lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” LaRosa wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

During the annual UnidosUS conference on Monday, Biden was praising the work of Raul Yzaguirre, who led the civil rights and advocacy organization for 30 years, and the diversity of Latinos across the U.S. when she made the remarks. Yzaguirre received a Medal of Freedom last week from President Joe Biden.

“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,” Biden said.

Her comments drew criticism, with many taking issue with her mispronunciation of bodegas and comparing Latinos to tacos — a long-held stereotype. The National Association of Hispanic Journalists called out Biden for her remarks in a statement, saying it “demonstrates a lack of cultural knowledge and sensitivity to the diversity of Latinos in the region.”

“NAHJ encourages Dr. Biden and her speech writing team to take the time in the future to better understand the complexities of our people and communities. We are not tacos. Our heritage as Latinos is shaped by a variety of diasporas, cultures and food traditions, and should not be reduced to a stereotype.” 

Florida Senator Marco Rubio, whose parents came to the U.S. from Cuba, also poked fun at Biden’s remarks by uploading a photo of a taco on Twitter. 

The UnidosUS conference is the “largest gathering of Latinos and allies committed social change,” according to its website. 

Biden, who teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, will speak at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Boston on Friday, the Hill reported. It’s the event’s first in-person gathering since 2018.

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