First lady Jill Biden has responded to backlash after saying Texas Latinos are as “unique” as “breakfast tacos” in a speech in San Antonio to the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization.
“The first lady apologizes that her words conveyed anything but pure admiration and love for the Latino community,” Biden’s spokesperson Michael LaRosa tweeted Tuesday.
Biden’s comments in San Antonio on Monday were made a day before President Joe Biden meets with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House amid record migration in the hemisphere and high inflation in both countries.
Later Tuesday, Jill Biden toured the Library of Congress with Mexico’s first lady, Dr. Beatriz Gutiérrez Müller de López Obrador, who took video and photos of what they saw, including a display of mostly Mexican artifacts, books and art..
The two women were impressed, as visitors often are, with the library’s beautiful Reading Room: “This is amazing!” Biden said, according to the White House pool report.
The first lady flew to San Antonio on Monday to address the annual conference of UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights and advocacy group formerly known as the National Council of La Raza.
What did Jill Biden say?
Biden, speaking at the conference, “Siempre Adelante: Our Quest for Equity,” was complimenting the work of Raul Yzaguirre, president of the UnidosUS. Last week, the president awarded Yzaguirre the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest honor for a civilian.
But the first lady’s attempt to compliment Latino diversity didn’t go over very well when she seemed to compare people to bodegas, blossoms and breakfast tacos.
“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,” the first lady said.
People also scrutinized Biden’s pronunciation of “bodegas” on social media. The crowd lightly cheered after her reference to breakfast tacos, and she shared a light laugh.
What was the backlash to the first lady’s comments?
The backlash came fast after the speech, namely from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“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 Latinos in the region,” the organization wrote. “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 various diasporas, cultures & food traditions. Do not reduce us to stereotypes.”
Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio responded to the first lady’s comment by changing his Twitter profile picture to an image of a taco.
Janet Murguía, president and CEO of UnidosUS, did not address the controversy over the speech and tweeted that the group was “honored” to host Biden, noting: “She has been a great educator in, and a great amiga to, our community for years. Privileged to call her a friend.”
The first lady will be the keynote speaker Friday at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Boston.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: First lady Jill Biden apologizes after comparing Texas Latinos to ‘breakfast tacos’