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Yo Quiero Respect and Sensitivity

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Taco Bell’s new ad campaign featuring Dinky, the talking Chihuahua, has people talking. In one commercial, the dog passes up a chance for romance to ask for Taco Bell. Television viewers around the country are repeating the catchy phrase, “Yo quiero Taco Bell.” But not everyone finds the commercial funny. Though the League of United Latin American Citizens says the group has no plans to boycott the fast-food chain, the president of the group’s Tampa, Fla., chapter was outraged at the commercial and urged people to stop patronizing the chain. LISA HILL spoke with Los Angeles college students who are active in Latino affairs on their campuses about whether the ad offends or amuses them.

WENDY HERNANDEZ

21, Pierce College senior

The commercial is very funny and not offensive at all. It is a good idea by Taco Bell to sell Mexican food using a Chihuahua, a Mexican dog, speaking Spanish. The commercials aren’t degrading. In fact, I am happy that they are finally using Spanish in the media. I would be happy if they showed even more Mexican culture in advertising.

Sometimes protest groups have a valid point, but sometimes they take it too far. The real concern now is immigration and the protest groups are losing sight of this major issue. The group in Florida is making a big deal out of nothing.

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MIGUEL PAREDES

21, Cal State Northridge senior

People, particularly Chicanos, find this advertisement offensive because Taco Bell has a history of commercials that were insensitive to the struggle of Mexicans in the United States. The previous emblem with the Mexican with the sombrero taking a nap and the “Run for the border” campaign were very offensive.

People don’t always catch the stereotypes presented in commercials. The most glaring hypocrisy is that in this commercial, Taco Bell is telling people that it’s OK to speak Spanish in our English-only society as long as you’re a Chihuahua. But when it comes to speaking it in school for our recent political immigrants, the lawmakers say it’s not OK. Proposition 227 says it is not OK to do anything not “American.” It would take 25 parent signatures to create a bilingual class; there is a fear among Latino parents about approaching administrators in the first place because of the language difference and because they generally ignore our needs.

The commercials are taking attention away from this and many other important issues. There is a general anti-immigrant hysteria in California, and California is the testing ground for the public opinion of the United States. Anti-immigrant laws are being put on the ballot and people are still debating a commercial.

MIGUEL ANGEL

25, Pierce College junior

At first I thought the commercial was funny, but then I noticed the house and the street it is filmed on. It portrays lower-class people. It gives the impression that the only people who eat at Taco Bell are Latino and low-income. It seemed odd to me that white guys with an expensive car are driving through the low-class neighborhood. I have been in Mexico and the street in the commercial looks like one in Tijuana. I know this really is how the city looks, but it does bother me.

Almost every day I run into stereotypes about Latinos. People are always saying that we are poor, that we are always on welfare. The Taco Bell commercial feeds this stereotype by labeling Latin Americans as low class.

GREG BARAJAS

21, Cal State Northridge junior

It is offensive to have a Chihuahua symbolize a Mexican. Advertisers used to have Frito Bandito and an overweight Mexican with a sombrero. Now this.

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Latin Americans should be shown as a group, with regular lives as families or members of a community.

The Taco Bell commercial proves that Latin Americans still haven’t had a serious impact. It serves as an inspiration, though a negative one, to work to change this. There are no Latino role models in movies, TV or the news media and we need them.

This country has a racist history, with cultural genocide against Mexicans going back to the Mexican American War. The United States has always been dependent on Chicanos to perform the low-paying jobs. The role of the lower-class worker is imposed on the Mexican people and institutionalized by racism.

There is a strong attitude that Latinos aren’t really Americans. People assume from my appearance that I don’t speak English. They figure I’m not getting a college education. I am often underestimated because I don’t fit the mold of what a “typical” college student looks like. Chicanos need to be more aware of what is going on. They laugh at that ad because they have been conditioned. We have to take the initiative and balance this conditioning with positive influences.

Latin Americans one day will be a majority in California. There should come a time when more Spanish than English is spoken. Society shouldn’t try to change people and make them assimilate. Let them evolve and respect their culture for what it is.

I am boycotting Taco Bell. They are using the Latino culture to fatten their pockets, but aren’t even recognizing the culture that the food came from. None of their food portrays Mexican culture. What Mexican would name their dish “Mexi-Melt”?

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MARTA GARCIA

26, Pierce College sophomore

The people who are protesting this commercial are overreacting. It’s just a commercial. Showing the dog is no problem. Taco Bell is trying to generate more business and it would be foolish of them to run offensive commercials, especially to their major market.

The Taco Bell commercial is a good step because most commercials only cater to “majority America.” Everyone can understand this commercial: It can be shown on Spanish and English channels alike. Advertising should be more balanced; it would help the Latino community to not feel as left out of American society.

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