Yuli Gurriel’s Gesture Towards Yu Darvish Is Latest Example of Latin American Racism

Oct 28, 2017
3:41 PM

In case you aren’t following the World Series, Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel, originally from Cuba, stepped into it when he mocked Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Yu Darvish, originally from Japan, by making a slanty eye gesture and apparently saying “chinito” after Gurriel homered off of Darvish during Friday’s Game 3.

Gurriel kind of apologized when he said this: “I did not mean it to be offensive at any point. Quite the opposite. I have always had a lot of respect [for Japanese people]…. I’ve never had anything against Darvish. For me, he’s always been one of the best pitchers. I never had any luck against him. If I offended him, I apologize. It was not my intention.”

And apparently, Darvish is cool with Gurriel’s words.

And MLB is suspending Gurriel for next year. 5 games NEXT YEAR. Not at all during the Series.

Nonetheless, what Gurriel did last night was the just the latest example of how we as Latin Americans continue to use racialized language and gestures and just excuse it as being “part of our culture.” Such is the view Los Angeles Times columnist Dylan Hernandez gave when he defended Gurriel in his latest piece.

After reminding us that his dad is from El Salvador and his mother is from Japan and that he has not problem being called a “chinito,” Hernandez wrote opinions such as these:

This might be a hard concept to grasp for anyone who is monocultural or monolingual, but believe me when I tell you racial terms aren’t said with the same level of maliciousness in Spanish as they are in English. Even racist-looking gestures, like the one Guerriel [sic] made, aren’t made with the same level of vitriol. Not close.

Or this:

I’m not naive to think there isn’t racism in Latin America, particularly toward indigenous people. But it would be misguided to view anything race-related from another culture through an American perspective. This country’s history of race relations is particularly ugly.

In response, we tweeted this thread to Hernandez:

And it looks like we aren’t the only one slamming Hernandez:

Unlike Hernandez, we must continue to call out racism by our own when it happens. This isn’t about an American perspective that doesn’t translate to a Latin American one. It is about understanding that we as Latin Americans have allowed for racialization to be cute and funny.

It’s not, and shame on us for now speaking united and together on this.