Stephanie Amador is a junior photojournalism major and writes "Cafe con Leche" for the Daily News. Her views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m taking pictures of Homecoming on a Saturday morning, and I see these two grown women dressed up with a mustache and a sombrero. They are walking with a group of girls, possibly between the ages of 8 and 9. These little girls are wearing sombreros too.
Naturally, I wanted to get mad, but I continued to watch and take pictures of these little girls wearing sombreros and sucked up my pride. On the back of their float it said Homecoming’s theme, “Cardinals around the World.”
I paused and thought. They are trying to represent Latinos.
As I tried to convince myself why this was OK, I kept making excuses for the two grown women who possibly bought the costumes themselves, who probably had a small budget and bought $10 worth of sombreros.
These little girls smiled and waved at me. I’m not mad at them, they looked freaking adorable. Who would be mad at sweet little girls who didn’t know that the costumes that they were wearing are racist?
Yes, wearing a sombrero is racist if you decide to wear it as a costume with a mustache, two plastic maracas and a poncho, which I own two of, but that’s beside the point.
Mexicans do own sombreros, maracas and ponchos. However, just like wearing an Indian headdress, a sombrero is not something to wear as a costume.
Each symbol has a meaning behind it. The sombrero is just a hat that keep people out of the sun. The more extravagant it is the more it’s used for special occasions, like quinces, weddings or maybe a night out. A simple sombrero can be just used for casual outings.
Maracas are my favorite. I played with them a lot when I was a kid. I recently used one at a wedding where we shake the maracas whenever the bride and groom kissed. Not that this is a traditional thing at weddings, but it represented celebration, love and joy. There’s nothing funny about it. Besides, this instrument originated from Brazil, not Mexico.
I wish I could say I only see this once a year, but it happens so often that I’ve run into someone dressed up as a “Mexican” in the grocery store, I’ve see someone buy drinks on Cinco de Mayo wearing sombreros and a poncho and lastly, I’ve seen it on these little innocent girls marching down the street of McKinley Avenue dressed in — you guessed it — a sombrero and a mustache.
I don’t blame the little girls. I blame the adults, the guardians, the parents that allowed their children to wear sombreros.
This isn’t acceptable. You’re telling your children it’s OK to dress up as a stereotype. I wouldn’t be mad if they dressed up as Frida Kahlo, the artist or Selena Quintanilla, the musician.
Don’t wear a sombrero as a costume, especially that cheap crap.
Don’t make the little girls dress as “Mexicans” because I’m sure they didn’t want to wear the itchy hats anyways.
Don’t stereotype the Mexican culture. Don’t stereotype any culture. It’s racist.