From Chicano Caucus’ statement yesterday regarding the pictures from the Theta mixer (featured at the bottom of the post):
Stereotypes are used to oppress marginalized communities. These pictures caricaturize Mexican culture and should not be overlooked. The attire trivializes an entire nation’s history, its peoples, and its cultures, reducing them to a mere mustache and sombrero. Though the attire was meant to represent Mexico in a game of Beer Olympics, in actuality it perpetuates the American stereotype of the sombrero-wearing Mexican-American migrant worker, distorting the culture into a form of entertainment.
Chicano Caucus also participated in Glass House Rocks on Valentine’s Day, where they provided students who stopped by with cutout posters to pose in. One of the two portraits provided to other students features a sombrero and a built-in large mustache. See pictures we found on their Facebook album below. While the actions aren’t equivalent and the group has the right to do whatever it wants with its culture, we can’t help but think that Chicano Caucus may have been perpetuating “the stereotype of the sombrero-wearing Mexican-American migrant worker” with this one.
Update (3:15 am): Chicano Caucus’s E-Board released a statement of apology regarding its events at Glass House Rocks, noting it “attempted to address the stereotypes imposed upon us by showcasing their underlying truths: the places and peoples they actually pertain to.” Read the full statement below.
On Thursday, February 13th, Chicano Caucus participated in Glass House Rocks 2014: Under the Sea, showcasing the southwestern coastal regions of Mexico through papel picado, lotería, face cut-outs, and traditional cuisine. We would like to apologize to anyone we offended with the images of the face cut-outs. It is regrettable that only one of the many aspects we sought to share was singled out, neglecting the overarching theme. However, our event at Glass House Rocks was far from a trivial representation of our Mexican heritage; it was a means through which we paid tribute to one of the many cultures within Mexico, combating the very issue of cultural unawareness. We attempted to address the stereotypes imposed upon us by showcasing their underlying truths: the places and peoples they actually pertain to. It is very easy to release certain images without context, and we feel that this is only taking away from the real issue at hand.
We reiterate that cultural appropriation is an issue that needs to be continually discussed and addressed on all levels. The concerns raised by both of these events (1) (2) are starting points to bring about tangible change to our campus community. As we move toward this goal, we hope it will include the participation of Columbia’s student organizations and administration.
Furthermore, we would like to be a resource for those with questions or concerns. We invite those who wish to discuss this situation to Chicano Caucus’ open meeting on Thursday, February 27th at 9pm. For further details on the location of this meeting, please contact the Chicano Caucus presidential co-chairs: Rubén Chaidez (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Trinidad Reyes (email@example.com).