|Did you know the Frito Bandito character was created in the late
1960s by the Foote, Cone & Belding advertising agency?
To casual observers, it might not make sense to wait until May 12, a full week after Cinco de Mayo, to spotlight an article about cultural appropriation in the context of this annual exercise in derivative marketing.
But in New Albany, very little makes cultural sense and almost everything is derivative, including Develop New Albany, our own peculiar institution, currently functioning as an appendage of Mayor Gahan’s re-election effort, and thus beholden to a succession of 1:00 a.m. mobile phone directives.
Which is to say, what you do on your own time is your burden, but shouldn’t we expect a higher standard from organizations tied to municipal government?
Who’d have guessed? William Anthony Nericcio’s “aggressive, relentless, and, at times, pathological interrogation of Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, “Hispanic,” Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotypes.”
We’ve pointed to Nericcio’s work on several occasions in the hope that the DNA board’s daily reading is not restricted to the Collected Exhortations of Dear Leader (indeed, futility is this blog’s constant and lamentable companion), but with a week to go until the renewal of Taco Walk, we’ll offer another point of reference.
First, to recap, last year citizen volunteer Kelly Winslow brought the Taco Walk idea to DNA, unaware that she needed a lawyer, because from the moment DNA’s “leadership” cadre arrived on site bearing sombreros, maracas and printed lyrics from the Frito Bandito’s infamously demeaning ode to corn chip hucksterism, the event careened off the rails in terms of cultural awareness, leaving Winslow with little choice except to take back her idea and politely excuse herself — but no such luck, because not only is Mexican culture ripe for appropriation, so are intellectual property rights, DNA reminding Winslow she could get out any time she liked, but her idea could never leave, and to be perfectly blunt, DNA has been nickel-and-diming and bullying her ever since, which is peachy keen according to well-scrubbed community pillars like DNA’s city council liaison David Barksdale, who can’t seem to grasp that if appearances in fact are everything (they’re not, but we’re on a roll now), then the appearance of a sombrero situated atop a middle-aged white person shaking maracas and chanting a 50-year-old advertising ditty, who is representing an organization that benefits from taxpayer dollars, is precisely the wrong one, now and forever.
Consequently, here’s a slightly less academic explanation of the overarching point.
Put down the sombrero and back away slowly.
Think we might talk about it during the Tuesday morning merchant meeting this week? It’s at 8:30 a.m. at the Pepin Mansion on Main Street.
Here’s why your Cinco de Mayo celebration is problematic, by Katie Dupere (Mashable)
Today is Cinco de Mayo, one of the most widely celebrated Mexican holidays in the United States. But all the taco eating and $5 margaritas can cloud what you’re actually celebrating — and lead to some nasty cultural appropriation.
That sombrero you’re wearing, for instance, is never appropriate, unless you’re of Mexican heritage.
But cultural appropriation is more than just a cheap, straw imitation of the wide-brimmed hat. It’s parodying a culture without knowledge or respect of its roots. Many non-Mexicans are guilty of this on May 5, knocking back margaritas but totally oblivious to what they’re even celebrating.
“In Mexican culture the sombrero, ‘ponchos,’ the music, the dancing, and even the tequila that was first made by the Aztecs have several cultural struggles behind them that a lot of people don’t understand,” Melissa Nuno wrote on Medium earlier this year. “It can be offensive to some when people from other cultures try to own it, especially without at least trying to understand what it means to the people of that culture.”