Early yesterday morning an electronic road sign along the Palmetto Expressway was hacked to read "No Latinos. No Tacos." Most local and national media outlets automatically jumped to the conclusion that it was a racist and offensive message. The Miami Herald called it "an anti-immigrant message." CBS4 said it was "offensive." Gawker was amazed that "Even Racists Can Hack Into Road Signs."
Of course, there was little context for the sign and the hacker hasn't been found, and the more we think about it the more we think it might not have been "racist" or "anti-immigrant" at all. In fact, we think it might have actually been pro-immigrant.
Our pal Carlos on his Tumblr Productivity Decreaser first got us thinking.
You know, this being the 3rd time I read about this, I'm pretty sure that the author of this prank just made a poorly formed joke and not a racist one.
I suspect he meant "without latinos, you can't eat tacos" instead of "I hate latinos and I hate tacos." My evidence for this is that nobody hates tacos. Case closed.
Then we searched around a bit more, and found that pro-immigrant groups have actually used similar catch phrases before to protest anti-immigration laws.
SIEU protesters found that Baja Sol, a chain of St. Paul, Minn. based Mexican food restaurants is actually owned and franchised by Tony Sutton, the chair of the Republican Party of Minnisota, which supports Arizona's controversial immigration bill.
The protesters marched outside of a location chanting "No justice? No tacos."
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A "Tacos for Immigration Justice" campaign has also been launched, in which owners of food trucks that sell tacos donate some income to promote fair immigration reform.
The appeal makes a cynical sense. White people love tacos. They love them so much. Even the anti-immigrant wingnuts who "aren't racist, but..." love tacos. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a Taco Bell commercials where the costumer was actually Latino? We walked by Lime Fresh Mexican Grill in Midtown yesterday. You know who was there? Tons of white people. It was almost like we were back in Naples or something.
If there's one thing all Americans can agree on (and if you take a look at our obesity statistics, maybe agree on too much) it's food. Maybe the sign was just pointing out that amongst the various contributions Latinos have made to this country is their food. Their delicious, delicious food.