A Latina council member has hit out at “toxicity” and a “culture of disrespect” against people of colour after she was mocked for her accent during a virtual meeting surrounding racial inequality.
Nancy Navarro, a member of the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, was addressing a zoom meeting on Tuesday on issues of racism before two voices unwittingly overlapped the audio.
As Ms Navarro continued speaking about inequality in the county’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, quiet sounds of laughter and discussion can be heard.
"I love how her accent comes out ... and pronounces words that she thinks that they’re pronounced," one person says before commenting on the way she says "represent" and "hologram."
Another person then responds with a chuckle, "I heard ‘hologram,’ and I was like, ‘That’s kinda interesting,” they say. "So cute," the other person replies in the footage, followed by a laugh.
In a statement following the meeting after she was made aware of the comments, Ms Navarro said: “This sort of commentary is completely inappropriate and uncalled for.”
She added: “It is a loud commentary on the toxicity and culture of disrespect directed at leaders and community members of colour.”
Ms Navarro, who is the first Latina member to serve on the council, has prioritised causes of racial equity and social justice during her tenure.
She explained to WTOP that foreign-born residents are faced with such “micro-aggressions” every day.
“Our own county council has a lot of staff that is either foreign-born or first-generation,” she told the broadcaster.
Council spokesperson Sonya Healy told CNN that the woman in the clip was an employee of the Montgomery County Council and that the incident had been turned over to their human resources office.
Montgomery Community Media (MCM), an organisation that contracts the council’s virtual meetings, confirmed that the other person overhead in the call was a male MCM trainee.
"The behaviour of the male MCM trainee involved is completely unacceptable and not reflective of our culture," the organisation said in a statement. "We are appropriately disgusted and disappointed."
Ms Navarro spoke to CNN about the disappointing irony of the incident happening while she was discussing issues regarding racism and inequality within the community.
"The juxtaposition of the fact that, here we were, going through a very important moment, discussing something so critical for this county," she said.
"It was just very interesting how this was superimposed in that particular moment."