Some residents in Charlotte are upset after a new restaurant put two statues outside that some claim represent a racist stereotype. A petition has been started asking the restaurant to remove the statues.
Hot Taco opened recently on East Bland Street. Two statues of Latino men who appear to be sleeping sit outside the building near the front door.
“This particular image of the dozing Mexican – the quote unquote lazy Mexican – you know is probably one of the most of the popular images, derogatory images for Latino culture,” said Amalia Deloney, who started the petition. “This is something I was certain, you know, had been dealt with. You know I didn’t expect to see it in 2015. I didn’t expect to see it in front of a restaurant so prominently displayed.”
Deloney said, “To just know the long history this is part of and the mockery of the culture – particularly Latino culture – is just totally against everything that I stand for. Everything that Charlotte stands for.”
Deloney, who is from Guatemala, has spent most of her life in the U.S. She moved to Charlotte about three years ago.
“I’m Latina. I love Charlotte. Like most people, I want to feel like this is home and I belong. And in so many ways I do,” she said. “Which is why it was so shocking and disturbing when I saw the statues in front of Hot Taco because it’s completely antithetical to my entire experience in Charlotte.”
Deloney said she’s concerned hundreds of people will see the statues because the restaurant is in South End, near the Bland Street blue line light rail station.
By Monday night, at least 150 had signed the online petition.
Janira Castro signed the petition. She says there are other images Hot Taco can use that won’t insult a community.
“I am a restaurant marketing person. I’ve designed Mexican restaurants in the past, There is a plethora of wonderful images you can use to celebrate this culture that you’re using to make money,” Castro said. “Even if you don’t get it, understand how it makes somebody else feel – and that’s what important.”
Other customers said they didn’t see a problem with the statues.
“It definitely wouldn’t stop me from going there,” said Christian Leon. “I don’t think they’re particularly offensive. I’m Hispanic. I think it’s just a Mexican restaurant and it’s a statue. But I understand why people might get offended.
WBTV reached out to Hot Taco about the issue. Officials said the restaurant was releasing a statement, but it had not come as of 10:30 p.m.
WBTV is an Observer news partner.