While it’s been a perennial issue, this year the “sombreros are racist” meme seems to have hit a fever pitch. This is just one of many articles noting some ridiculous rule against wearing Mexican-themed costumes for Halloween because they are allegedly “racist.” First of all, the term “Mexican” doesn’t denote any particular race any more than does the term “Canadian” or “American,” so even if one hates Mexicans and Mexican culture, that doesn’t make one a racist, it simply makes one a bigot.
Secondly, Mexican-Americans aren’t ashamed of Mexican culture, or things associated with it, so there is nothing offensive about tacos or sombreros or tequila. The fact that some people seem to think that sombreros are somehow offensive reminds me of an experience my mother has had more than once.
As a dark-skinned person, my mother is often asked by Anglos “what are you?” By that, people mean, “what is your ethnic background.” Surveys have shown that few Hispanics in America use the generic term “Hispanic,” but instead self-identify based on their family’s most recent country of origin. So, a person descended from Colombians would answer “I am Colombian.” The person who answers in such a way does not mean that he or she is a Colombian national, or that he or she wishes to move to Colombia. “Colombian” is simply shorthand for “I am descended from people who come here from Colombia.”
So, holding to this convention, my mother answers the question about her ethnicity with “I am Mexican.” But sometimes the response she gets from Anglos is this: “Mexican? Is it alright to use that term? I always thought of ‘Mexican’ as a type of racial slur.”
So, for some people, including “sensitive” Anglos with White Guilt, Mexicans are so evidently inferior that even calling someone “Mexican” is an insult. This may come as a shock to the staff at the Diversity Office of Jockocracy State U, but Mexicans aren’t offended by being called “Mexican,” or by what you apparently think are unflattering “stereotypes.” It’s unfortunate that you, o sensitive leftist, think that garments and foods enjoyed my many Mexicans are offensive and somehow shameful to Mexicans, and I’m sorry you’re such a patronizing bigot.
But are gringos with no connection to Mexico allowed to eat tacos or wear wide-brimmed Mexican hats? According to the guardians of tolerance, they are not. I do know, however, that Mexican-Americans wear those hats to amuse themselves. In this photo, my abuelita, born to Mexicans in either Juarez or El Paso, has placed a sombrero on the head of my uncle. A Latino Studies professor would probably tell you that she’s trying to reclaim the symbol of her oppression or something like that. But no, she likely just finds the hat to be amusing:
But of course, racist Mexican garb isn’t limited to hats. “Stereotypical” garments used by only women are both racist and sexist. Thus, in this picture, my great-grandmother Julia Calderon is being instrumental in her own oppression by wearing traditional garment known as a rebozo:
Look at how she’s reinforcing stereotypes about old Mexican women! She should wise up and wear an American business suit, instead, since of course, no one could actually like traditional Mexican clothing.
In reality, only Mexican-Americans who have been brainwashed by University diversity classes would look at these photos and find them to communicate a state of servility and oppression. These are simply photos of people living their lives, and are no different than photos of Germans wearing lederhosen or Americans wearing ten-gallon hats.
Indeed, Mexicans associate sombreros with a variety of culturally enriching activities such as charreadas. And the fact that Emiliano Zapata was known to sport a huge sombrero well illustrates that wearing a sombrero has nothing to do with sitting around and letting other people oppress you.
But the question nevertheless remains as to whether or not non-Mexicans are allowed to wear sombreros. Well, as exhibit A, I point to the time Mexicans put a sombrero on the head of Pope Benedict XVI. Now, as every good leftist knows, Pope Benedict is a horrible Nazi or something, so if the Mexicans are willing to put a sombrero on the head of Papa Ratzinger, this can only mean that either:
1. The Mexicans are so incredibly stupid that they mock themselves by enabling the racism of Evil German Popes.
2. Mexicans like the sombrero as a symbol of their culture, and they don’t care if gringos wear them.
I’m inclined to think that number two is the correct one, but I’m sure that some “enlightened” university staff will choose number one.4:33 pm on October 31, 2013 Email Ryan McMaken