Thursday, April 18, 2024

Latina Member of Council Claps Back with Pride After Her Accent was Mocked

Nancy Navarro of the Montgomery County Council in Maryland urges Latino immigrants with a Spanish accent to “wear it with pride and keep moving forward” after two people made fun of her accent during a virtual public hearing earlier this week.

Navarro, an immigrant from Venezuela and the only woman on the council, was speaking earlier this week about issues concerning the county’s unequal access to COVID-19 vaccinations for Latino and Black communities when two people could be heard mocking the way she pronounced certain words. One of the people, a woman, stated “I love how her accent comes out and pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced. Like, she says ‘represents’ and ‘hologram’” while the other person, a man, responded while laughing, “I heard ‘hologram’ and thought that was kind of interesting”.

Navarro responded to the matter, “I was completely in shock. We still have these kinds of situations where people really think that it is completely acceptable, and that it is actually a laughing matter, to make fun of someone else’s accent.” Officials identified the woman who made the comments as a council employee and the man as a contractor from the nonprofit Montgomery Community Media, which provides technical support to the county.

In a letter to Navarro, Montgomery Community Media CEO Nannette Hobson stated, “Participants in conversations like these intend to make the subject of the comments appear to be less than, while normalizing the language and behaviors of bigotry.” Hobson’s letter further stated that there will be measures taken against the contractor.

Montgomery County’s Office of Human Resources and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are investigating the incident. Barry Hudson, county spokesman, stated “We are aware of and are investigating this incident. Since it is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment at this time.”

Latino community leaders in Maryland, such as Maria Alvarado Villa, have stated to be outraged by the incident. In an interview, Alvarado Villa stated, “If this happens to Nancy Navarro, who is our highest representative within Montgomery County, imagine what happens to other immigrants.”