As I scrolled through Instagram after Korea’s epic win against Germany, I saw so many Mexico fans celebrating alongside Korean fans. It was beautiful, because seeing people come together in the spirit of the World Cup is amazing, especially with the amount of hate in the headlines. But I also saw something really ugly that made me want to write this article. I’m sure you can guess what I’m talking about because it isn’t new or uncommon among Mexicans or Latinos overall. I saw photo after photo of people in Mexican jerseys pulling the sides of their eyes as though it were empowering or a demonstration of gratitude—It’s not! It actually enforces that whole racism thing (most) Mexicans and (most) Latin Americans are rallying against.
If you’ve ever watched a futbol match of this magnitude before, you know that throwing around racist insults at the World Cup is about as normal as throwing around racist insults at the World Cup. And let’s not forget the whole “Eeeh Puto” chant that still seems too difficult for Latino fans to forget. Even though FIFA has pledged to crack down on “racism and discrimination” it’s handling of those matters has been questionable at best.
We all know racism against Asians in Latin American countries is REAL, there were actually many actions taken against Chinese immigrants in Mexico at the turn of the century most notably the Torreón massacre, in which over 300 Chinese were literally ripped apart and buried in a large trench. And let’s not forget there are millions of people of Asian descent who are born and raised all over Latin America. I’m here to say, enough is enough. We need to stop disrespecting others if we want to be respected. So here’s what you can do in these situations to be the change we need to see.
1. Be vocal when someone does this:
Pulling your eyes to the side “slant eye gesture” is not ok! Above is Mexican actor Ferdinando Valencia using a child to pull back his eyes as a show of support for Korea. I’m so confused as to why he—or anyone really—thinks this is something anyone of Asian descent would find endearing. It basically says “go Korea, but also your eyes (the identifying characteristic of your heritage) are a joke to me and my countrymen. I hope you win though!” He has since deleted the photo and posted a cryptic statement about unity with Koreans but not much else in terms of an actual apology. If you see someone doing this, it’s as simple as saying, “hey than’s not cool” or “I find that offensive.” If Korean fans painted their faces brown* or used a racist gesture towards Mexicans we would lose our gawd dang minds and you know it!