Although many were ecstatic after Bellarmine’s victory over rival Archbishop Mitty in their first basketball game of the new year, many Latino members of the school community felt insulted by the “fiesta” theme and its inaccurate portrayal of their heritage.
The fiesta-themed celebration was advertised on the Blue Crew’s Facebook page a day prior to the game. The post informed the community that they would start the festivities “muy caliente with a Fiesta theme” and asked the student body to bring “sombreros, ponchos, maracas, and piñatas.”
“The fiesta theme defames and misrepresents an ethnic group,” said Roberto Young ‘17, an active member of the Latino Student Union. “It fails to recognize what is the true identity of the Latino culture. Ethnic groups are not costumes.” Roberto’s frustration was shared by many other members of the Latino community at Bellarmine as well. “They’re appropriating a culture in a totally inappropriate way,” stated Mr. Sarrett, a school counselor and member of the Latino community. “Do we want some members of our student body to feel uncomfortable and stereotyped?”
Those involved in the creation of the Fiesta theme, such as Spirit Commissioner CJ Ajlouny ’17, believed there was no harm in the idea. “I really didn’t think there was a huge deal wrong with having the idea of a fiesta-themed basketball game,” CJ said. “I know Presentation had a fiesta-themed mixer last year and it went over really well. I want to apologize to anyone we possibly offended. I just hope they realize that our intentions were only to start out our basketball season with a party.” Furthermore, CJ agrees that further revisions should be made in the theme selection process. “We’re working on having a list of themes pre-approved by administration,” CJ added. “Just because I personally didn’t think this would be a problem, we should still take further precautions.”
As Bellarmine looks forward to its upcoming justice summit on racism next year, topics such as the fiesta theme will foster conversation and is something the current school principal, Mrs. Luscher, wants to approach right now. “The important thing is to have the bigger conversation,” stated Mrs. Luscher, the school’s principal. “I think it’s tricky, and it’s difficult for students and faculty to navigate through these problems.”
As Bellarmine approaches its social justice theme of race next year, one of the main focuses will be to face these challenges, and understand and appreciate the many different cultures represented at Bellarmine. “Diverse communities, as well as under-represented minorities, should be represented here in the Bellarmine community,” Roberto said. “We should strive to surround students with cultural knowledge and make them more aware.”