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Friday, May 27, 2022

Ponchos and sombreros: Partygoers don ‘insensitive’ attire despite student efforts

The outreach of Badgers Against Racism on campus Friday raised the profile of the group’s issue behind the Mifflin Street Block Party’s unofficial “Cinco de Mifflin” theme, but it did not stop a number of students from wearing costumes that played on Mexican stereotypes.

Around 30 participants held “Ask me about Cinco de Mifflin” signs, played music and gave out T-shirts and fliers Friday seeking to spread the newly formed student group’s message of cross-cultural sensitivity and understanding.

But some Mifflin attendees prominently displayed the kind of costumes the group spoke out against at Saturday’s block party, dressing in sombreros and ponchos or wearing “Cinco de Mifflin”-themed shirts.

For BAR member CJ Rios, these outfits can be “hurtful,” no matter how innocent their intent.

“I know other people don’t mean to hurt anyone when they’re doing it, so it’s just frustrating,” Rios said.

The sombreros and ponchos bordered on insensitive, agreed sophomore reveler Isaac Blackburn. But on a day where many partygoers opted for jean shorts and undersized basketball jerseys, commemoration of Cinco de Mayo was an unfortunate casualty of coincidence, he said.

“[This year’s block party] just so happened to fall on Cinco de Mayo,” he said. “People would still be wearing weird clothing, or even dressing up in sombreros and whatnot if it wasn’t on Cinco de Mayo.”

Rios and other BAR members spoke to students Friday on East Campus Mall about Cinco de Mayo, highlighting the disrespect of perpetuating stereotypes by blending the Mexican patriotic holiday with Madison’s annual day of drinking.

According to Rios, between 60 and 70 students stopped by to talk about the issues behind “Cinco de Mifflin.”

“I want to inspire dialogue about these things,” Rios said. “People tend to kind of not understand where we’re coming from, and that’s okay. … The main thing we’re about is respect—just respecting each other and our different backgrounds, and just learning from each other.”

BAR plans to seek status as an official student organization this summer.

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