As educators, we must demand the end of the appropriation of the Mexican culture. This is never more prominent than on Cinco de Mayo.
Stop with the Sombreros. Stop with the Talking Tacos. Stop the mustaches. Stop the donkeys. Stop the cactuses and maracas. Stop the appropriation of a rich culture. Let’s educate, not stereotype.
I urge our followers to help put an end to the stereotyping. We don’t need to look any further than one of the largest Spanish Teacher companies, Teachers Discovery to find this. Let’s look at their following products:
This product is labeled as “HILARIOUS”. What is so hilarious about a donkey and sombrero? The review posted on the website trying to sell it even attacks it. And I can’t agree more with this person:
“My name is Vanessa XXXXXXXX. I am an ELL/Spanish teacher in Iowa. I was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. As a world language teacher, my job isn’t just teaching the language, but it also includes teaching cultural competency and breaking stereotypes, not enabling them. As a member of the Mexican community, I find it shocking offensive that Spanish teachers enable stereotypes. My culture is not a costume and it’s disturbing to know that there are teacher who buy sombreros, maracas, and sarapes and allow students to take selfies with these products. When they do this, they’re not giving their students a proper representation of what the Spanish speaking community is. In fact, it is enabling stereotypes. Not all people who speak Spanish wear sombreros. It is like saying all Americans look and act like Honey Boo Boo.
I do not walk around wearing sombreros, ponchos, maracas while riding a donkey. When I saw the product “Hilarious Prop for Spanish Class” I was in shock. With the way Latinos are represented in the media, do we Spanish teachers really need to add more to the negativity? The title even says it all. They are mocking the Spanish speaking community. How do these props help our students learn the language and culture? How does it benefit them?
In my country, sombreros are regalia for charros and escaramuzas. My people are more than a sarape and sombrero. Spanish teachers, I urge you to discover and experience what Mexican culture is really like. Teacher’s Discovery has a book called VOCES that has authentic cultural materials. Let’s give our students a more realistic view of the Spanish speaking community by breaking away stereotypes instead of enabling them.”
But they keep selling it!! Why? Probably because people are buying it. Let Teacher’s Discovery know this is unacceptable. Tweet them at @_TDSocial, email them firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out their Contact Form.
Let’s look at some more of their products:
Sure, I guess we could associate speaking Spanish to wearing a sombrero.
Probably the most offensive piece of all is the following:
A “Sombrero and Sarape Set”. Their description says to decorate your walls. Yet, both of the pictures on the product page show white kids wearing it as if it were a costume. Do I really need to explain how this is offensive? Culture is not a costume!
Please let your voices and concerns be heard so Teacher’s Discovery does the right thing and removes these products from their stores. As a store for teachers, these products have no place in the 21st century educational marketplace.
*UPDATE* We did it. Thanks to everyone for contacting TD and sharing your concerns. TD has listened and has removed the not-so-hilarious photo prop and has removed the pictures of wearing the serape/sombrero.