The county says it will immediately replace the Spanish version
Ventura County officials are apologizing after releasing a Spanish-version of a coronavirus social distancing poster that tells people to keep “three produce crates apart.” The English version of the same poster instructs readers to stay a ski-length apart.
Ventura County’s intent may have been to show items one could envision to stay an appropriate length away from others to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but the message rightly infuriated many who saw it. The county quickly apologized and vowed to replace the Spanish version immediately. One poster shows a man and woman in business clothing separated by a pair of skis. The other features faceless silhouettes of a man and woman in work clothes separated by three produce crates. They called the situation a “misunderstanding,” but many disagree, calling it blatant racism.
The county of Ventura said they created several versions of the poster, with the Spanish version intended to provide “social distancing messaging for farmworkers at the farms,” CBSN Los Angeles reported. The county has a large farming community. “No industry has a more profound impact on Ventura County’s landscape and quality of life than agriculture,” Ventura County Farm Bureau said on its website. “Farmers and ranchers are stewards of more than half of the privately owned land in the county; their fields, orchards and rangeland are a precious local heritage.”
“We understand this has caused offense and we apologize,” a Facebook post from the county, which has since been made private, said.
County spokeswoman Ashley Bautista said Monday that the local government received hundreds of comments and complaints after the posters were posted on social media, VC Star reports.
The posters were printed in both English and Spanish, but it was clear to those who saw the two posters that those showing office workers were geared towards English speakers and the one with the crates to Spanish speakers.
“I wish to apologize for the County social distancing posters many of you have seen in local businesses,” Ventura County CEO Mike Powers wrote on Nextdoor.com. “Thank you to those who shared their concerns and contacted us pointing out that side by side the Spanish and English versions are offensive to members of our community. That most certainly was not our intent in our attempts to share ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus. We will be going out and replacing the posters immediately.”
Powers continued: “We pledge to do better. Please continue to stay engaged with us as we work to engage with and support our diverse community during these challenging times.”