Sept. 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month and a Florida county wanted to help celebrate with a social media post. But the GIF didn’t go over well.
A maraca-holding, dancing hard-shell taco image (see below) was posted to the Broward County government’s Facebook page Tuesday morning, sparking social outrage, according to the Washington Post.
The post, taken down hours after the damage had already been done, said, “National Hispanic Heritage Month starts today! It beings on the 15th of September every year, to celebrate the independence of Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. What are you doing to celebrate?”
Instead of its audience sharing how they were going to celebrate, social media users shared their outrage over the insensitive graphic. And now, the county is being called out across national media outlets.
Pérez-Verdía, a Colombian-American who works as an advisor on Latino issues for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, told the Washington Post she was surprised this is still happening in 2021.
“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,” Pérez-Verdía said.
According to 2019 Census data, Hispanics and Latinos account for 26.4% of Florida’s population and 31% of Broward County.
The Washington Post spoke to Gregory Meyer, assistant director of the Broward County Office of Public Communications, who said the employee who made the post is not Hispanic and “didn’t know any better.” Meyer shared that the employee has now been counseled on cultural sensitivity.
“A dancing taco is not representative of the Hispanic community and should not have been associated with the annual celebration,” Meyer told The Washington Post. “It was not our intention to offend anyone with our previous post but rather acknowledge National Hispanic Heritage Month in a celebratory way.”
Hispanic Heritage Month, which started in 1968 as a commemorative week, was created to celebrate the people, history, music, food and contributions of Americans with Hispanic heritage from Spain, Mexico, Central and South Americas, and the Caribbean.
It became a full month in 1989 when President George H.W. Bush declared the period from Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month so that the month encompasses the independence days of many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile.