The Ellen Show creates racial dispute during Fiesta Bowl giveaway at University of Oregon.

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Over 300 students gathered at EMU amphitheater dressed “ready for a fiesta” after tweets posted by Ellen DeGeneres instructed students to come for a chance to win tickets to the Fiesta Bowl during a live taping at University of Oregon campus.

DeGeneres tweets created a racial dispute after student arrived dressed in sombreros and panchos, which a group of students found to be offensive and mocking Mexican culture.

“It’s offensive. You wouldn’t dress up as a white person and come to something this.” Cory Kirshner-Lira stated.

Vice President of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity Dr. Charles Martinez and Dean of Students Dr. Paul Shang talked with students during the event to help resolve the conflict. Shang said that the University plans to release a formal statement addressing this matter in the Oregon Daily Emerald on Monday.

Students were initially upset from the apparent lack of empathy in regards to the legislation and prejudice that many still face in Arizona. The group wanted the University of Oregon student population to have been more supportive and understanding, rather than putting on over-sized mustaches.

Another crowd observer had a different stance on the matter, “this is just for fun. People dress up as cowboys and that is a reflection of ‘white’ culture.”

My reaction to this matter.

Originally, I felt that the crowd of people were being overly dramatic for yelling and causing attention over the word “Mexican.” I held the initial belief that people put their own insecurities behind certain words, rather than just taking something for what it is. However, I realized that I was making this assumption without listening to all parties involved. I decided to go and ask the group questions and gain a better understanding rather than instigate the issue any further. After talking with the group, I realize that clearly they are passionate about their culture and want others to share the same respect. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. I was grateful for the group’s presence for the mere fact that someone was there and speaking out for those who couldn’t.

However, I do believe that overall people need to be more understanding. And from all sides.

DeGeneres and the crowd participants could have been more cautious with using the word “fiesta” and how it may reflect upon that related culture. The group of students could have also been more light-hearted and understood that the event was not intended to be used as a racist rally, but rather something fun in promotion for an upcoming sporting event. In some situations a word is just a word, and it’s our insecurities that bring negative connotations and continue the spread of racism. Realistically speaking, it is impossible to be politically correct. No matter what word anyone chooses to use, it is going to offend somebody. But at the same time, national television networks should really spend more time taking these types of matters into consideration. You can’t ignore it, these issues exist. And it does look very poorly on DeGeneres part for not being as empathetic to this as she has been in the past over adopting another families pet.

Let’s think about this one, Ellen.

I am not saying that anyone is wrong in this matter, I just feel that not enough sensitivity and understanding was being communicated and demonstrated on campus yesterday.


9 responses

  1. Wow…this is reminiscent of an incident that virutally shut down my college for three days. After the men’s a cappella group at Denison posted flyers for a halloween performance with a noose on them, members of the black student union protested so vehemently over what they took as a personal attack with a symbol of their oppression. Little ol’ me didn’t realize how powerful that symbol was, being more likely to associate it with the Wild West or the Middle East, where people are still hung. The issue quickly turned away from its orgin, and the issue became how the college president responded to the complaints, which allegedly was along the lines of “you need to choose your battles carefully.” Campus literally shut down for the ensuing debate, and a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon of “social change”–suddenly campus was polarized: People who cared, and people who didn’t. That dichotomy was exaggerated and the people who didn’t care were basically labeled racist.

    The president mandated that all classes be cancelled one Wednesday afternoon and the dining halls would be closed, making the first campus-wide convocation mandatory, if you wanted to eat that day. Thousands of people crammed into the fieldhouse at NOON and were assigned random tables to have dialogues with strangers. After a short speech, the president opened to mic for 20 minutes to anyone who wished to speak. The line for the mic kept growing and growing–he tried to cut it off with 50 people still in line, but the librarians and other building staff took the stage and said they would not re-open until every student that wished to be heard got on stage.

    I sat there and listened to students speak of their feelings of disenfranchisment and fear for SEVEN hours. At 8 I was so emotionally drained I went home and passed out.

    The next day there was a similar impromptu event at the flagpole on a-quad– students stormed classrooms demanding everyone come out to the flagpole…some professors canceled class to go witness,
    but my sociology professor rolled his eyes and called it “social masturbation.”
    There could be no tangible results from the students efforts and the unity outside was short-lived, feigned, and only served to feel good.

    I’m not saying that ANYONE’s feelings are invalid or that they shouldn’t have them, but one fascinating characteristic of our generation is a precept that somehow we have a right to NOT be offended. Obsurd, but that’s the bottom line–stereotypes exist for very basic reasons–socially, psychologically, biologically. They’re like cliches–what’s a cliche? Something SO simple or true that we have a cultural aversion to using it.

    This situation is probably extraordinarily difficult for Ellen–I guarantee she feels like shit for this–because she has been stereotyped and oppressed as well, but she chooses not to be offended anymore. (Just because one is unoffended, doesn’t mean they are without empathy). That’s why she can go back to being happy after she feels extraordinary pain from reading about the latest case or LGBT bullying and the subsequent suicide.

    I hope this doesn’t grow out of proportion, because she was doing something nice for people. Does Fiesta not mean party? Is there not traditional dress at some fiestas? Is the interior of every mexican restuarant a false reflection of mexican culture? The only way to stop being oppressed is to stop FEELING oppressed. BECAUSE WE’RE ALL OPPRESSED. How long will it be before we have women up in arms over men dressing up for drag shows? Then how long before men follow suit and decry women dressing in men’s clothes? God forbid we forget that we are FREE–to each his own. You’re not free if you can’t comprehend that the actions of others have no power over you unless you submit to them. Who knows, maybe this incident will have a resounding effect on cultural understanding, or maybe just in one persons life. In either case, this snaffu becomes a positive thing. Or, it’ll fizzle out to the non-issue that it should be.

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