EPA Employee's Hispanic Heritage Month Email Causes Controversy - NBC4 Washington

EPA Employee's Hispanic Heritage Month Email Causes Controversy



    (Published Friday, Sept. 14, 2012)

    An email never meant to go beyond a federal agency has gone viral because of what some people consider disparaging remarks toward Hispanics.

    Thursday’s email titled “Hispanic news you can use” sent by a management analyst at the Environmental Protection Agency was meant to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. It was followed quickly by an apology.

    The email included some facts, but there were also generalizations that outraged some. It featured a picture with a mural of Che Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary who teamed with Fidel Castro during Cuba’s revolution, and the text appears to be copied off the website Buzzle listing so-called cultural facts.

    "In most of the families, father acts as a chief of the family while mother works as a housewife," it reads.

    Also, “When Hispanics are addressing someone with informal words, generally they are very fast, loud and use a lot of body language gestures to convey their points.”

    Critics say the message perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes.

    But the Guevara image caused the largest outcry.

    "I am aghast and upset that a federal agency would send an email depicting el Che Guevara in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month,” read a statement from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla. “El Che was a blood thirsty, vengeful, cowardly, sadistic, two bit delinquent who used his position as enforcer in chief of the Castro brothers to send countless innocent persons before the firing squads."

    In the management analyst’s apology email, she said she did not know who the person in the photo was and apologized to anyone who was offended. She said she used the picture to dress up the fact sheet.

    "This email was drafted and sent by an individual employee, and without official clearance,” read a statement from the EPA. “Shortly after sending the email in question the individual apologized to her colleagues for the inadvertent error."

    Hispanic Heritage Month begins Saturday.