If this were a court case, it would be exhibit A in the case against token Latino outreach.
The Environmental Protection Agency sent out an internal email to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday with an image of Cuban Revolutionary, Che Guevara complete with one of his famous sayings.
Unfortunately, Guevara can be a polarizing figure among Latinos and is particularly despised by Cuban-Americans.
“I am aghast and upset that a federal agency would send an email depicting el Che Guevara in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). “The image of Che is an insult to countless people who lost family members because of his evil and twisted acts.”
The email had some issues of its own, Che notwithstanding.
“Hispanic people are vibrant, socializing and fun loving people,” one part of the memo reads. “Among various facts associated to this culture is that they have a deep sense of involvement in their family traditions and cultures.”
The problem with that little snippet is that its lifted word for word from a website Buzzle.com, without attribution.
The email went on to list factoids about Latinos that, as written, makes it seem like Hispanics are an unknown species, rather than an ever-present part of the U.S. population.
“In Hispanic families, there is a culture of living in closely knit groups that not only contains grandfathers and grandchildren but all generations whose descendants are alive,” the email reads. “In most of the families, father acts as a chief of the family while mother works as a housewife.”
The EPA released a statement distancing itself from the email and explaining what went wrong. “The email was drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance. Shortly after sending the email in question the individual apologized to her colleagues for the inadvertent error.”
The mass memo did have an interesting fact here and there, however. “California, Texas, New York, and Florida are the four states that constitute more than 70 percent of the total Hispanic population in the US,” it read.
But right after that nugget, it followed up with this helpful tidbit.
“One of the most simple Hispanics culture facts is that majority of the Hispanic population speaks Spanish language.”