Interpreters Circulate Questionable Information about Interpreters & Vaccine

We here at MultiLingual strive to publish the news, and in an era of fake news, it becomes necessary from time to time to report on what the news is not. A YouTube video by Spanish interpreter Kelly Grzech Henriquez is currently circulating among the medical interpreting community, and one interpreter from the American Translators Association (ATA) shared it in the advocacy committee’s group Slack. In this video, Henriquez — who received a COVID-19 vaccine — indicates that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has refused to vaccinate more than a dozen Richmond, Virginia-area interpreters because they are not white. “I’m white,” she says at the 1:07 mark, “I’m not Hispanic. The rest of the interpreters who haven’t been vaccinated that I just mentioned? The vast majority of them are Hispanic and/or Black.” (A full transcription of the video, provided by Henriquez, is available on her website here.) When approached by MultiLingual, Henriquez refused to give the names of these interpreters she claims asked for vaccines, emailing “I don’t feel comfortable sharing people’s full names and contact information without their permission.” She is also unclear on where they tried to get vaccinations. In her video, she references three organizations: VDH, Richmond City Health District, and Henrico County Health District. The problem is, VDH doesn’t provide vaccines. It does, however, offer a directory of local organizations that do. Any interpreter — regardless of race — asking VDH for a vaccine would be turned away because it’s the wrong place. Henriquez also […] The post Interpreters Circulate Questionable Information about Interpreters & Vaccine appeared first on MultiLingual.

Interpreters Circulate Questionable Information about Interpreters & Vaccine

We here at MultiLingual strive to publish the news, and in an era of fake news, it becomes necessary from time to time to report on what the news is not.

A YouTube video by Spanish interpreter Kelly Grzech Henriquez is currently circulating among the medical interpreting community, and one interpreter from the American Translators Association (ATA) shared it in the advocacy committee’s group Slack. In this video, Henriquez — who received a COVID-19 vaccine — indicates that the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has refused to vaccinate more than a dozen Richmond, Virginia-area interpreters because they are not white. “I’m white,” she says at the 1:07 mark, “I’m not Hispanic. The rest of the interpreters who haven’t been vaccinated that I just mentioned? The vast majority of them are Hispanic and/or Black.” (A full transcription of the video, provided by Henriquez, is available on her website here.)

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When approached by MultiLingual, Henriquez refused to give the names of these interpreters she claims asked for vaccines, emailing “I don’t feel comfortable sharing people’s full names and contact information without their permission.” She is also unclear on where they tried to get vaccinations. In her video, she references three organizations: VDH, Richmond City Health District, and Henrico County Health District. The problem is, VDH doesn’t provide vaccines. It does, however, offer a directory of local organizations that do. Any interpreter — regardless of race — asking VDH for a vaccine would be turned away because it’s the wrong place. Henriquez also emailed that one of these interpreters approached VDH over Facebook, which is not an accepted route to apply for a vaccine. She was also unable to provide dates when these non-white interpreters were allegedly refused treatment, emailing “I don’t have those dates handy because it did not happen to me.”

In an era of misinformation, it is important that we continually seek facts. It’s one thing to become justly enraged over racism, particularly when it could result in the loss of life. It’s another, however, to circulate unsubstantiated allegations. Like reporters, interpreters are commanded to be accurate. After confidentiality, accuracy is the second tenant in the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) Code of Ethics. For the language industry to be taken seriously by non-language professionals, we must take care to ensure the information we communicate is correct — whether it’s interpreted, streamed on YouTube, or shared over Slack.

In response, Henriquez emails, “It’s no secret that the vast majority of interpreters in my area are Hispanic and/or Black. Non-minority interpreters are few and far between in my area. I’m not the one who said the word racism and brought it into this conversation. I simply laid out the facts and that seems to be the conclusion you have come to yourself.”

Jennifer Santiagos, the interpreter who shared the video on the ATA Slack, said she “found the video credible” because of work Henriquez has done advocating for interpreters to get the vaccine, stating “Kelly has a very good reputation among colleagues.”

VDH did not respond by press.

The post Interpreters Circulate Questionable Information about Interpreters & Vaccine appeared first on MultiLingual.