There's really little use debating if the photo currently under fire from a Penn State Mexican-themed sorority party is offensive. It is, without a doubt.
In a picture from the party, members of the Chi Omega sorority are seen dressed in ponchos, sombreros, and fake mustaches. That alone is questionable to some, but the signs they were holding were undeniably outrageous. One read: "Will mow lawn for weed + beer" and the other: "I don't cut grass, I smoke it." No wonder the picture has caused an uproar and cries of racism, both on campus and across the Internet.
Really, how could they have ever thought this was okay?
Vice President of the Mexican American Student Association, Cesar Sanchez Lopez, made some good points when he told Onward State:
"The Mexican American Student Association is disappointed in the attire chosen by this sorority. It in no way represents our culture," Lopez said in a statement. "Not only have they chosen to stereotype our culture with serapes and sombreros, but the insinuation about drug usage makes this image more offensive. Our country is plagued by a drug war that has led to the death of an estimated 50,000 people, which is nothing to be joked about."
The sorority has issued an apology, and the school's Panhellenic Council and the sorority's national headquarters are investigating. But it should have never happened. These young women should have known better, and I hope that I'm raising my kids to know why things like this aren't okay, even if it's in the name of fun.
While I'm shocked by this behavior, I have no doubts that racism is alive and not-so-well in this country. We've come a long way, but there is still much hate out there, much of which stems from the persistence of stereotypes and flat-out ignorance. It's especially painful to see, however, when it comes from those for whom ignorance shouldn't be an issue -- like students at an esteemed university. Ironically, the whole incident also just reinforces plenty of negative stereotypes people have about sororities and those who join them too.
Are you shocked that students would think this was okay?
Image via Onward State