Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Chihuahua Controversy

On Tuesday they finally announced the name of El Paso's new AAA baseball team. The announcement was made at The Plaza Theatre in front of an audience of local Little League players and media. The reaction on Facebook and Twitter was quick to follow and not positive at all. You see, El Pasoan's were invited to vote for the name of the new team and given a few options to choose from. Sun Dogs, Desert Gators, Chihuahuas, Buckaroos and Aardvarks were among the options. Not a whole lot to go on... I personally voted for the El Paso Sun Dogs, but I'm not a native, don't live in El Paso and I don't have much invested with the sports teams there, so who cares what I think, right?

The city was livid when they learned that the name of the new team would be the Chihuahuas... And I don't mean just some of the city, I mean out of the thousands of reactions I read on KVIA's Facebook page Tuesday night, I could count the positive comments on one hand.


But guess what? I'm irritated too. As much as everyone in El Paso. As much has the die hard baseball fans North of the Border. I am pissed off and I want to talk about it. I should warn you that this probably isn't going to be the same as the rant most El Pasoans are having on the subject.

El Paso may be disappointed with the name, but I'm more disappointed with the way so many people reacted. Call the name estupido, lame, vergonzoso, whatever. I mean, it is after all, a tiny little dog known for the fact that it is a yappy ankle-biter and shivers even if it's 100 degrees out. I get why some people would think it's the most stupid name ever. I get why people are irritated because the "voting process," was clearly a bunch of bullshit. First they said that the name was chosen because it represents El Paso's "spirit and fiercely loyal community," and then it was said that the name was submitted by Shae Vierra and chosen at random. Hmmm... Why did we vote again? I can understand the frustration.

It's not the best choice for the team name, I get it. But the following comments that I read on Facebook after the announcement was made absolutely blew me away. Say the following things? Then you're the lame one. El Estupido. Say these things and know that the only thing bringing shame to El Paso is yourself and your bigoted, back-woods, ignorant remarks. These people represented El Paso with their reaction. And it did not look good my friends.

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Desert Gators was the better one. Now we look like a beaner team.

Might as well named them the border jumpers or coyotes

That's it I'm not supporting no baseball team from El Paso named Chihuahuas. We r not from across the border. We r Americans!

They should have just called it the el paso wet backs or el paso mojados

I didn't know Juarez voted on this ... This is Texas not Mexico stupid ass ....

Might as well just name the team the "SPICS"

I know how about "Los Trafficantes" anybody ... anybody huh!? Lol

FUCK THAT NAME. good job pendejo owner, at least you'll get your dick sucked for this one. I'm pretty sure ur Chihuahua wife made you do it

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I decided to remove people's names from these comments because I would hope that there may be a sliver of a chance that these people are embarrassed. Maybe there is a slight chance that they just spout out these remarks behind the protection of your computer screen and that they would never have the audacity to speak these words in public. Racial slurs never sit well with me but I find it more bothersome when they are thrown about among those of the same race. It tends to give the ignorant permission to add the words into their own vocabulary. I can't claim to know what it's like to be a Native El Pasoan or Juarense, and I never will, but I'd like to think these comments do not represent these Sister Cities. Because, for lack of a better term, these people look like fucking idiots. And I think I speak on behalf of most people when I say that we would all like to move beyond the bullshit and racism so that we can take this world to where it was always meant to be.

On another note, we have to recognize that AAA Baseball is kind of known for some questionable names so we can't be too shocked. Some of the names are just plain laughable. Certainly more ridiculous than the El Paso Chihuahuas! You have the Louisville Bats, Albuquerque Isotopes, Toledo Mud Hens, Salt Lake Bees, Harrisburg Senators, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Montgomery Biscuits, Charlotte Stone Crabs, Lansing Lugnuts, Great Lakes Loons, Asheville Tourists, Savannah Sand Gnats... Should I go on? I don't know about you but biscuits and tourists and isotopes and senators don't seem any more intimidating than Chihuahuas to me. Well, maybe Senators do, but that's a whole other blog.

There were plenty of people who were more civil in their responses and felt that the name fed into negative stereotypes about the city. However, here's my question: Why does that fact that the name has a connection to Mexico and to the Spanish language automatically make it negative? The name isn't stupid because it's Spanish, the name is stupid because it's a God damned Chihuahua! The name isn't derogatory if El Paso doesn't make it derogatory. Is the San Diego Padres name derogatory? I don't find it to be. Doesn't mean that everyone in San Diego is Latino. What about the Cleaveland Indians and Atlanta Braves? Are all the people of Georgia and Ohio Native American? Texas Rangers? All Texans are cowboys? Let's get real.

And that's the weird thing. I spoke to a lot of El Pasoans about this subject this week. Several people threw out the race card, then immediately said they would have been happy with keeping the Padres or Diablos name. How does that make sense? The Chihuahuas make El Paso out to be nothing more than a bunch of Mexicans but the Padres or Diablos wouldn't? I just don't get it. Maybe it's because I'm a gringa who isn't from El Paso, but I honestly don't understand. Feel free to enlighten me.

Maybe instead of tearing each other down and denying the roots that most El Pasoans have with all these disgusting comments we could do the right thing. If they think it's so terrible, maybe baseball fans could direct their efforts to teaming up to petition a name that better represents El Paso? Or maybe they could give this name a chance?

If it makes anyone feel any better, there are a handful of articles floating around about the name that had relatively positive comments from people who said they would have chosen the name Chihuahuas if they had been given the same 5 options. None of those commenters were from El Paso. None of those people had anything derogatory to say about Mexicans. They just took the name for what most of America will take it for. A dog. Not a connection to Juarez, not racist, not anything more than another silly AAA Baseball League team name.

Just my two cents...

28 comments:

  1. I live in Asheville, and honestly I think El Paso's new team name makes more sense than the Tourists, whose mascot is a person with the moon for his head.

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  2. Its sad. I have never encounterd as much anti-Mexican racism as I have in the border town we visit to renew our 6 month visas (not El Paso). The first time we went (my 2 daughters and I) , my oldest daughter tried to invite another toddler to play with her at McDonalds. Since we live in Mexico and my daughters are bilingual (well, as bilingual as a 2 and 4 yr old can be) , she first talked to her in Spanish , and then in English to see which language the girl responded to. My daughter was 3 at the time, give her a break if she doesnt realize when we pass the border. That we are "supposed" to soeak English.

    The worst part, was the grandma who was with the little girl had a super thick accent, was clearly originally from Mexico, asked me WHY my daughters spoke Spanish and if we werent American? Um, excuse me? You are the one with the accent lady, and YOU dont want your grandchild to be bilingual? What a shame .

    We had several scenarios like that in a 4 day visit, meeting people who clearly spoke Spanish (as in, I heard them speaking it with their family) but who were super offended if I tried to speak to them in Spanish, declaring that they were AMERICAN and not Mexican.

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    1. I believe that. I've gotten a touch of it in El Paso. I struggle with knowing when to speak Spanish and when to speak English. Even in the work place. If I make assumptions and speak Spanish, I'm a jerk because I'm assuming the person doesn't speak English. If I speak English I'm insensitive because I don't understand that a lot of people here only speak Spanish. It can definitely be a catch 22. But for the most part people seem really understanding and polite about language. At least to me.

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    2. Off the subject of the Chihiuahuas, (the name doesn't bother me too much).
      I'm an English speaking Hispanic because I went to school in El Paso. I don't speak spanish well but try when needed, usually when I'm helping a spanish speaker understand important legal documents.
      Last time I went to Juarez in the late 90's I wasn't given the option to speak English. I was rudely called "Mocho" for trying to speak Spanish. I was once harrased and robbed by Mexican officers. They were very unforgiving about my American accent while talking to them in Spanish.

      I didn't take it personal and am not bothered by Spanish speakers in the US. I am bothered by some Mexicans who claim discrimination in El Paso just because some people may not be capable of catering to their English language dificiencies.
      I'm glad my parents who's parents were from Mexico and Spain demanded that their kids learn and speak English. We only spoke spanish to my grandparents and they too stressed we learn the English language well so that we could succeed in the US. English is the language of American commerce. It's the language that will make people money in all 50 American states.

      Spanish is a nice lanuage to speak and understand but teaching young kids bilingual only confuses them. Half their time is spent learning one of the other language so they end up speaking both languages incorrectly. Bordertown Spanglish will only lake you as far as Juarez, El Paso and Las Cruces. Making money in Mexico requires an education in proper spanish just as English does here in America. Sure you could be a translator but most jobs require the instructions of manuals written in English. Example computer programming, networking, setting up industrial hardware, law, journalism etc.
      Just my opinion here. Call me "pocho"or "mocho". I'm used to it already. I'll be raising my kids to speak English. They can speak spanish at school or to their freinds if they want but not in our home. I will correct them when ever I hear them prononce an English word wrong. Their chances of survival will be much better when they grow up.

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    3. I'm a Mexican, and still I completely agree that Mexicans shouldn't get offended when they're in El Paso and they're not spoken to in Spanish. Most of the time they will blame it on the other person feeling superior or something like that and most of the time that's not the case. But that goes the other way around, as a lot of Americans are also offended when not spoken to in English while in Mexico.

      I do find sad that you believe that teaching young kids Spanish will only confuse them and they'll end up with bad English and Spanish. That's for the most part incorrect and unfortunately is a common misconception among a lot of latinos. There are a lot of studies that show that you can do a great service to your kids by letting them learn 2 or more languages as young as possible. Of course there needs to be some structure, and yes it's possible that it will take the kid a little longer to start talking, but in the end he will learn just fine. And the benefits extend way beyond what kind of job you can get. I live in Montreal and we only speak to our little one in Spanish. He will learn French and English in school and I have no doubts about that.

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    4. I have to agree with Miguel here. Although I can't speak from personal experience as our son and daughter are not bilingual because they are not raised in bilingual homes, I can make the assumption from my friends children who are/aren't raised in bilingual households. And of course, from studies I've read about as well.

      Now, speaking Bordertown Spanglish as you've called it is completely different that being fully bilingual, and maybe the difference of opinions stems from that.

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  3. Internet comments with their anonymity or semi-anonymity are generally the worst. Every now and then i'll read them and get into a funk, and then remember that it's generally the most ignorant and/or angry people that feel the need to lash out online. It can't be representative of the masses.... right?! As for the Padres, well I have a theory on that one. Being from California, the missions are considered part of our local history and basically viewed as the first european settlers here (some schools teach more native american history than others..). So I can see how even Californians who are racist or anti-Spanish language / Mexican culture "takeover" would not think of the Padres as a "hispanic" related team. And I've personally met people who thought everything about the Spanish language was trashy, until they remember Spain and then point out "Oh well THAT's DIFFERENT." You know the type. - Sarah

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    1. I know what you mean. Especially the Mexico/Spain thing. What the fuck? People are weird.

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  4. ...Having said all that, I'm still not sure why El Paso would want to name the team after chihuahuas. Unless they are well known for breeding that type of dog, it make no sense to name themselves for something outside the city / state. I can't see Chihuahua naming their teams after El Paso, Texas, or Sonora for that matter. - Sarah

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    1. Actually, El Paso is in the middle of the Chihuahuan desert. Even if we weren't talking about the breed of dogs, the name is not far-fetched... But yeah.

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    2. Oh well that makes sense. If El Pasoans are aware of their own geography then what is the big, stinking deal?

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  5. If you did your homework you would know that the Indians and braves are considered racist and there are a lot of people who want those names changed. The also happens to be a big news story about the redskins changing their name. Ask taco bell if the chihuahua is considered offensive or racist. San Diego Padres makes sense I shouldn't have to explain why.

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    1. I'm familiar with the controversy, I am just saying that those names do not make anyone assume that the cities are comprised of only Native Americans as people said that the name Chihuahuas would make people think El Paso only has Hispanic citizens...

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  6. My question: do you have any idea what Juarenses / Chihuahuanos think about the name? Because I agree with you: as someone with no connection to El Paso, I just thought the name had to do with the dog. And that logo is fucking awesome.

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    1. I haven't really discussed it with anyone who has no ties to El Paso other than my husband. He laughed at first and thought it was a bit silly, but it's growing on him.

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  7. The name isn't stupid because it's Spanish, the name is stupid because it's a God damned Chihuahua!

    That made me laugh, because it's true. But think of all the marketing possibilities. In San Antonio, our Missions baseball team does the dizzy bat races and then they have little kids from the bleachers come and chase a puffy taco character (Henry, the Puffy Taco) around the bases.

    In El Paso, they could have little yappy dog races between innings and it goes without saying that they could offer 50 cent Taco Bell tacos to get people out to the games. When someone hits a home run, they could play the sound of a bunch of barking chihuahuas, not unlike what you'd hear if you rang someones doorbell. People need to lighten up and embrace it, even if it was a crappy choice.

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  8. Hey... I'm a Burqueña, & we actually voted on our Isotopes name because of The Simpsons! It may not be an intimidating name, but we like it. :)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albuquerque_Isotopes#Name_origins

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    1. I didn't even think about the Simpsons! That's cool. I like it more now.

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  9. I'm one that doesn't like the name, and was upset over the name.If you are not a native to El Paso it's hard to understand why the name was an insult. I now feel the name will grow on some people so all the comments will be something of the past. ~ Sally

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  10. Because the word El Paso is an english word ? El paso del norte !!

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  11. I am white, born and raised in El Paso. I have experienced and been witness to racism on many strange levels. Any type of name with any form of racial relationship or connotation would have caused some form of backlash in this city. No matter what was chosen. I think the biggest problem that people are having is the fact that this stadium is being built at all. This is an incredibly sensitive subject in this town. There are parts of El Paso that desperately need revitalization and many believe that this choice was a very bad idea. There are many here who see this name as insult to injury, yet another poor decision on the part of this city that will inevitably cast us in a negative light. I feel personally that El Pasoins feel they have very little control as to what happens in their city and how they are culturally represented in this country.

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    1. Interesting. I know that the stadium was a sore subject. It's been the talk of the town for quite some time. Do you feel that El Pasoans feel less in control of what happens in this city than people in any other city feel about what goes on where they live? I personally think that most people feel they have little to no control over what happens in their city. But that just goes back to the problem that half the people who feel helpless don't show up to the polls, which is unfortunate because the cycle will never end...

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  12. I just discovered your blog and I love it!!! I love the fact that your sooo real and you say things the way that they are, no bs or going around the bush!!!! I live in Chihuahua, we came over here after my Dad was deported from the US. Anyway with that said, I have noticed that alot of mexicans are the most anti-mexican people that I've met in my life!! I've had friends who once they find out I'm an american citzenship start trying to speak only english to me, "correct" me if my english is not like theirs and even lie to me saying that their americans citzens too. I even have a "friend" who said that she grew up in the United States, I invited her to El Paso to visit a friend, once we were in Juarez she told me that her mom "took her visa away from her". She obviously confessed afterwards that she doesn't have a visa, but she was afraid that I would "discriminate" her. I think alot of people are offended by the name because alot of people from Mexico, like my "friend" try so hard to be something that their not. There's nothing wrong with being mexican, mexican-american or hispanic. It's a blessing to speak more than one language, but sadly alot of people here in mexico are tought that foreign people and foreign things are way better than mexican people and mexican things. When I was in school a read a book by Roger Barta and it was actually about this. I agree that it's kind of stupid because of the dog assoiciation, a better name (in spanish) would have been "Lobos" or "Los Soles" (just sayin') but most of the comments are just straight up racist. It think that it's our job as mexicans/mexican-americans to feel proud of our culture, embrace it and to pass that on to our childerns, friends and other family members.

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    1. That is so sad, about your friend. It's sad that someone would feel they had to lie about something like that. But it tells you so much about our culture. I'm sorry she/he felt they even needed to make up such a thing.

      So glad you are enjoying the blog!

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