Jill Biden, the First Lady of the United States, has been criticized for comparing Latinos to tacos in a speech that has drawn condemnation from across the political spectrum. Speaking in San Antonio, Texas, at the annual conference of the civil rights advocacy organization UnidosUS, Mrs. Biden attempted to praise the group by saying that Latinos are: "as unique as breakfast tacos."
Ms. Biden misspoke in her prepared remarks, and also mispronounced the famous Puerto Rican and Dominican bodegas, known as "bogedas."
San Antonio is also one of the largest Latino cities in the United States, with a population of nearly 1.5 million people that is 65% Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data. The insensitive comments came just hours before her husband - President Joe Biden - met with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the White House.
Referring to Raul Yzaguirre, who led the group for 30 years, Mrs. Biden said, "Raul helped build this organization with the understanding that the diversity of this community, as distinct as the bodegas in the Bronx, as beautiful as the flowers in Miami and as unique as the breakfast tacos here in San Antonio, is its strength."
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists was not impressed, and said Ms. Biden and her speechwriters should "better understand the complexities of our people."
"We are not tacos. Our heritage as Latinos is made up of a variety of diasporas, cultures, and food traditions, and should not be reduced to a stereotype," the association said in a statement.
Conservatives on social media jumped on the gaffe, wondering what liberal outrage would sound like if a prominent Republican had said it. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio changed his Twitter profile to a picture of a taco, with a tweet that read "New profile pic."
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona, said, "No wonder Hispanics are fleeing the Democratic Party!" A recent Quinnipiac opinion poll found that only 26% of Hispanics approve of Biden's performance as president, down from 55% a year earlier. This is not the first time Mrs. Biden or her husband have had trouble winning over Hispanic voters.
In March 2021, Mrs. Biden was criticized for mispronouncing the Spanish phrase "Sí se puede" in remarks to farmworkers in Delano, California.
Joe Biden was ridiculed for playing Luis Fonsi's worldwide hit "Despacito" at full volume from his phone at a Hispanic Heritage Month event in Florida in 2020. Hitting pause on the song 15 seconds later, Mr. Biden said with a chuckle, "I'll tell you what, if I had the talent of any of these people, I would be elected president by acclamation."
Biden's 2020 opponent, Donald Trump, has also been criticized for his insensitivity to Hispanics. In addition to calling Mexican immigrants "criminals" and "rapists," in 2016 he tweeted a photo of himself eating a taco at his desk. The caption read, "Feliz Cinco de Mayo. The best tacos are made at Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics!"