The Problem of Racial Sterotypes–It’s Not Just Native Americans Who Are Victims

The Problem of Racial Sterotypes–It’s Not Just Native Americans Who Are Victims

Oh, Penfield.

For years you have held a lacrosse tournament the first weekend in May. You call it “Cinco de Laxo,” an obvious play on that made-up American holiday that takes place every May 5th.

To promote this tournament, like most lacrosse tournament organizers and promoters, you produce posters and t-shirts. Nothing surprising in this at all. But in your promotional efforts, you utilize racist caricatures of Mexicans, images as deeply offensive as the Cleveland Indians’ “Chief Wahoo” logo, and the Blackface imagery that still crops up too often (even at my college, unfortunately).

I have been complaining about this for quite some time. My kids have never played in this tournament. They never will, even though they play lacrosse. I wrote to the members of the Penfield School Board. Penfield Lacrosse uses school property for its events, and links to the high school program on its website. I wrote to the superintendent of Penfield Schools. I wrote to every member of the board on Penfield Lacrosse. Not one of you bothered to respond.

I have heard from parents in Penfield who see these images as perfectly acceptable.

They are not. At a time when our presiding tyrant routinely demonizes refugees from Central America, denounces Mexicans as “murderers and rapists,” gins up fears of crimes and drugs crossing the border, and in general stokes the fires of racism and white supremacy by coddling the Klansmen of Charlottesville, the last thing we need is a youth lacrosse league peddling in such damaging images.

Because when you reduce a group of people to a caricature based on some of the worst sterotypes about them, when you appropriate images from the past to falsely and inaccurately define people who are still here today, you in effect trivialize their claims to justice, and aid and abet the racists and vigilantes and the border troglodytes who terrorize refugees while playing army along the southern border. When, through your promotional materials, you deploy images that bestialize an entire group of people, you provide cover for those who feel that these people are “illegal,” or “dangerous,” or an invading force, or that odious policies like family separation are entirely justified.

One parent wrote to me and said that I should suggest an alternative image that Penfield Lacrosse could use. Maybe there is an image of Mexicans you could use to make this more palatable.

There is not. You need to stop. Call your tournament, the Spring Fest, or the May Day Parade, or something other than this. These images are racist and demeaning, they are hurtful and harmful, and they do nothing to make people of color feel welcome in the town of Penfield.

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