While discussing racial disparities amid the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, a Latina councilmember in Maryland was interrupted by two people — as they giggled and mocked her accent. 

During a virtual meeting Tuesday, Nancy Navarro, a member of the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, spoke passionately about the county’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, which she said is failing people of color. According to CDC data, Maryland ranks near the bottom when it comes to getting vaccines in people’s arms.

Nancy Navarro, president of the Montgomery County Council, listens during a hearing in Rockville, Maryland., on January 15, 2019.CHERYL DIAZ MEYER FOR THE WASHINGTON POST VIA GETTY IMAGES

“For me personally, I’ve always had this interesting dilemma in my years of public service, which has been this bizarre disconnect in terms of who we are in Montgomery County,” Navarro, the first Latina and the only woman serving on the council, said.

“We’re still perceived as a totally, we’re like some other hologram of a county that doesn’t look anything like who we actually are.” 

One-third of the county’s residents are foreign-born, and over 40% speak a language other than English at home, according to census data.

As Navarro spoke, there was some chatter and laughter in the background — two people who apparently thought they were muted were talking about Navarro’s accent. 

“I love how her accent comes out and pronounces words like she thinks they’re pronounced,” one person said, specifically calling out the way Navarro pronounced the words “represent” and “hologram.”

“What happened to me on Tuesday was not an isolated incident, it fits a pattern of microaggressions and racist acts that wittingly and unwittingly make the workplace, and by extension, our community spaces hostile spaces for people of color,” Navarro told CBS News on Friday. 

The commenters were employees of Montgomery Community Media (MCM), which helps the council manage its Zoom meetings. 

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