Reporting Pamela Jones
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CHICAGO (CBS) – It was supposed to help sell tasty ethnic food, but it’s leaving a bitter taste with people who’ve seen it.
As CBS 2′s Pamela Jones reports, it’s a flyer with a cartoon many say is a bad stereotype and had no place in the Thompson Center.
The poster displayed the image of a man with a thick black mustache and wearing a sombrero and a bandana, standing behind a sign advertising tacos, nachos, tamales and Puerto Rican rice.
The poster was put up at the Thompson Center and was supposed to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. It advertised an event on Friday at the governor’s office on the 16th floor.
Christina Rodriguez said the poster was “Ridiculous, intolerant and insensitive.”
Other Hispanics said the guy in the sombrero with the little bandana – selling tacos and nachos – doesn’t represent them.
“Most definitely not,” Cathy Flores, a Mexican American, said. “It does look a little bit biased.”
“If you see somebody speaking Spanish, doesn’t mean everybody’s Mexican,” said Luis Cruz, who is from Nicaragua. “For example, in my country, we don’t eat tacos, we don’t eat Puerto Rican rice or tamales. … Our food is different.”
Cruz was working an information table honoring Hispanic heritage at the Thompson Center.
“I call it a generalization, I think,” he said. “It’s just … putting you, like, in a box. Okay, all of you are Hispanic, so all of you are Mexican. You speak Spanish, you are Mexican – which is not the case.”
They said celebrating all the colors and flavors of Hispanic culture is commendable, but Flores said the poster “does kind of deteriorate a little bit the feeling of being Hispanic that they would presume that that’s how we all look.”
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said the poster was a mistake made by one staffer. It was not approved by anyone in the office and, when they realized the error, the poster was removed.
Rodriguez blogged about the poster. She said that, just because private businesses use similar icons all the time, doesn’t make it acceptable for the state to do it, too.
“To be reduced to a little guy in a sombrero with … tacos and nachos, it’s not … it’s just insensitive. It does hurt, because it’s pushing us back,” she said.
The governor’s office said Friday’s event has been canceled.
The food sales were supposed to benefit a group that helps state and university employees make donations to charity. A spokesperson from that group did not return calls seeking comment.