If you’ve seen today’s Twitter trending topics, you’ll notice that first lady Jill Biden is ranked up there with Emmy nominations and the latest Wordle puzzle. Unfortunately, Biden is still on people’s minds because yesterday, in a stunning exercise in political pandering, she gave a speech at a conference for non-profit organization UnidosUS in San Antonio, where she compared the city’s Latinx community to breakfast tacos.
Much to her chagrin during the speech, Biden found herself waxing poetic, using stereotypical cultural markers that insulted the very people she was intending to uplift. In one sentence alone, she likens the diversity of the Latino community to Bronx bodegas (which she pronounced as “bogedas”), Miami blossoms (not a thing), and San Antonio tacos. All of this to compliment UnidosUS president Raul Yzaguirre and his organization’s extensive research and advocacy work. She said:
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.
Naturally, the internet is up in arms about that statement, and for good reason. Biden gave this speech in San Antonio, where just two weeks ago, 53 people from Mexico and Central America were discovered either dead or dying in a trailer that was abandoned by migrant-smugglers. The city is roughly 80 miles away from Uvalde, where a mass shooter took the lives of 19 children and two adults — primarily of Latino descent — at Robb Elementary in May. If she wanted to talk about anything involving Latinxs, it should be our resilience in the face of adversity and extreme violence, not simply the commodities that we have to offer those outside of our cultures.
Aside from the fact that she is the first lady, it is unclear why Biden was invited to speak at the event, dubbed the “Latinx IncluXion Luncheon” with unbelievable seriousness. The theme for this particular conference was “Siempre Adelante: Our Quest for Equity,” and some aspect of the poorly named luncheon was intended to address diversity in regards to the Latino community. And who better to elucidate on issues affecting the community than someone not affected by them?
That being said, San Antonio does boast some incredible tacos, so I won’t fault Jill for believing it was a great compliment to mention them in her speech. However, comparing Latinxs to a celebrated breakfast food is very obviously not the move, and echoes a certain then-presidential candidate’s similarly absurd 2016 tweet, especially when such a statement is a transparent attempt to pander to an audience who will have a big impact on future elections.