Broward County, Florida, has come under fire after its official Facebook page posted an animated image of a hard-shell taco shaking maracas in celebration of the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, The Washington Post reports.
The county removed the image several hours later, replacing it with a new banner that displays the dates of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Gregory Meyer, assistant director for Broward's Office of Public Communications, told the Post in a statement that "a dancing taco is not representative of the Hispanic community and should not have been associated with the annual celebration. It was not our intention to offend anyone with our previous post, but rather acknowledge National Hispanic Heritage Month in a celebratory way."
Meyer noted that after he saw the image, he notified the employee who created it that it was inappropriate and ordered it be taken down as soon as possible. Meyer said the employee, who is not Hispanic, "didn’t know any better" and since has received counseling about acultural sensitivity.
"You don't have to be Hispanic to understand that that is insensitive and inappropriate and not reflective of the Hispanic community," Meyer said.
Some residents of Broward County, which in one-third Hispanic, saw the image before it was removed.
The image was described as "sad example" of the never-ending "misunderstanding and misrepresentation” of Latin American cultures, by political strategist Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, who is advising Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in her run for governor.
Pérez-Verdía told the Post that "there are so many other things that represent us as Latinos than a taco with sour cream on top, it's just not who we are."
"You would think this does not happen anymore in 2021. But the sad truth is it happens not only in government but in every field," Pérez-Verdía said.
Lindsay Pérez Huber, an associate professor of social and cultural analysis of education at the California State University, said that this instance "is one of a multitude of visual microaggressions that have targeted Latinx communities for generations. This imagery is much more than cultural insensitivity, it is an everyday visual form of racism that has been perpetuated in film, media, television, and now social media."
Pérez Huber added that the fallout from the post "shows that people will not remain silent to racism, and this is hopeful. Latinx communities should feel offended that their cultures and histories continue to be reduced to racist caricatures of tacos and chihuahuas."
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