Nancy Navarro, a Montgomery County Councilmember in Maryland, was mocked for her accent during a Zoom call about the inequality when it comes to access to the Covid-19 vaccine for Black and Latinx communities. Navarro is a Venezuelan immigrant and during the call last Tuesday two participants could be heard joking about her pronunciation of certain words, according to WZDC, the local TV news station from Telemundo.
“I love how her accent comes out and pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced. Like, she says ‘represents’ and ‘hologram,’” a woman said.
“I heard ‘hologram’ and thought that was kind of interesting,” a man said while laughing.
“So cute,” the woman responded.
We must continue the conversation about cultivating a culture of respect and equity in our workplaces and our communities. pic.twitter.com/WdeKxRCxW9
— Nancy Navarro (@nancy_navarro) March 5, 2021
This incident was “just one distinct example of what actually happens on a daily basis in so many different spaces,” Navarro told USA Today. “Whenever we have these conversations that we talk about institutionalized racism or structural issues around racism, people tend to think that these are manifested in a very overt fashion,” Navarro added. “The reality is that there are also these kinds of incidents.”
Navarro is the first Latina and the only woman serving on the council who moved to the U.S. at the age of 10. She then returned to Venezuela two years later and came back when she was 17, PEOPLE reported. One-third of Montgomery County residents are foreign-born, and over 40 percent speak a language other than English at home and 20 percent of the population is Latinx, according to census data.
The identities of the people who mocked her have not been revealed though PEOPLE reports the woman is someone who works in technology for the county council and the other is an employee of Montgomery County Media, the company that manages the public channel on which the county meetings are broadcast.
In a letter to Navarro, Montgomery Community Media CEO Nannette Hobson called the contractor’s behavior “unacceptable.” “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,” she wrote. Navarro said she has not received an apology from the two workers.
“Make no mistake, these dysfunctions are deeply ingrained in our county and in our country, racism has become a public health crisis,” Navarro told CBS. “What hurt was that these employees are part of our team, charged with working daily with a diverse team of Council members and staff on initiatives that require a sensitivity to and respect for racial and ethnic differences.