Zubi Advertising Services, an independent Hispanic ad company based in Miami, decided to take on the issue of racial profiling in Arizona by creating what it calls the “Gringo Mask.” Unfortunately, some seriously humorless people took offense to the slang term and caused enough of a controversy to warrant a local TV news piece and force a formal apology. Now, the following appears in place of the once downloadable mask:
We understand from your responses that some people might equate the word “Gringo” with an ethnic slur. We do not. It is simply a slang term used to describe Caucasians, and we don’t assign any negative connotations to it. In fact, the mask communicates that looking this way will keep you above suspicion of being an illegal immigrant in Arizona, a positive thing not a derogatory one. We hope everyone will view the mask the way we do…a comical tool to convey a message and raise awareness about an issue that is important to all Americans. If the campaign has been taken in a different light by some, we sincerely regret the misunderstanding.
The irony that white people would be offended by a term no more disparaging than “redneck” in the face of greater racial injustice is truly frustrating. But at least the controversy brought more attention to the issue—which, as Zubi also noted, was its primary goal.
Thanks to your involvement, the GringoMask has achieved its primary objective to raise awareness of the potential for racial profiling by enforcement of Arizona SB 1070. GringoMask was not a commercial product or intended to be a long term project, but a piece of satire to promote discussion and thought.
In addition to raising awareness, the mask was used to promote dialogue between people of different opinions in the hopes of arriving at better solutions than SB 1070, and to show solidarity with Americans of every race and color across the country that found this law unfair in its targeting of a specific ethnic group even if only implicitly.
For more on the many creative ways people are finding to act in solidarity with Arizona’s Latino community check out this great piece in Yes! Magazine called The 21st Century Civil Rights Movement.