I am writing to express my concern about the March 17th article, “Breaking open La Piñata: Mexican restaurant a hit in Oxford” by Juanita Gonzalez Valencia. The article praises La Piñata and its employee, Giovani Febus Rodriguez for the delicious food and warm atmosphere. However, the strongest message I got from the article was not about the restaurant, but about the writer’s and editor’s casual racism and gross lack of thought. In the first sentence of the article, Gonzalez Valencia stating that ‘many’ people describe Rodriguez as “the friendliest Mexican in town.”
This immediately strikes me as careless and completely avoidable racism. It is not okay to reduce someone to their ethnicity. Rodriguez might, in fact, be a very friendly person. He might even be the friendliest person in town–but this does not warrant referring to him completely by his ethnicity, not by his personhood. This is a completely preventable mistake. Gonzalez Valencia does not even take this from a direct quote, but rather as something people have said some time. Whoever edited the article could have easily asked the author to remove it, which would highly improve the quality of the article.
It may seem petty to take offense to one phrase, but I am afraid that if I don’t speak about this short phrase, others will stretch and expand the racism permitted in this article. I expect more from the Miami Student.
Anna Lucia Feldman