clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Customers Demand Mexican Restaurant Remove Racist Statues

The statues perpetuate the "lazy Mexican" stereotype.

Morgan G./Yelp
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

Many residents of Charlotte, N.C. are saying a new Mexican restaurant in town is advocating racist stereotypes with its decorations. The Charlotte Observer reports that a petition has begun circulating asking the owners of Hot Taco to remove two outdoor statues depicting a sombrero-wearing Latino men sleeping against a wall.

Petition writer Amalia Deloney tells the Observer, "This particular image of the dozing Mexican — the quote unquote lazy Mexican — is probably one of the most of the popular images, derogatory images for Latino culture." Deloney, who is Guatemalan, adds: "I didn't expect to see it in 2015. I didn't expect to see it in front of a restaurant so prominently displayed."

However, some customers say they don't have a problem with the statues. "It definitely wouldn't stop me from going there," Christian Leon says. "I don't think they're particularly offensive. I'm Hispanic. I think it's just a Mexican restaurant and it's a statue. But I understand why people might get offended. Rather shockingly, many people have turned to the restaurant's Facebook page to share their support for the statues, calling the petition "stupid" and too "politically correct." Hot Taco has yet to release a formal statement. As of Monday night, more than 150 people had signed the petition.

Racist stereotypes are all too common in the restaurant industry. Last winter, an Ohio university was forced to apologize for its Black History Month menu that capitalized on racist stereotypes.  NBC's cafeteria served a nearly identical menu during Black History Month in 2010. Then, in July, someone who clearly misunderstands racial inequality started a petition demanding that Cracker Barrel change its name because it mocks European Americans "long and proud heritage."

Eater Video: A distinctive taco truck that could satisfy any Mexican food fan