Solena Aguilar is an art and design junior and the Mustang News Design Director. The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Mustang News.
A scene that happens every year: there are no more tortillas to be found at your local grocery store. The Cal Poly vs. UCSB soccer game is approaching. You start seeing tiny sparkles of flour in the hallways as students frantically shove tortillas into their bras and underwear and anywhere else they can think of. They know they aren’t allowed to bring tortillas in but isn’t that the whole fun of it? This is the only game they will ever attend. It is their one chance. Why are we doing this? Who cares! Tortillas are great!
Except … maybe not? Maybe throwing a Mexican and Central American staple at team that has an Argentinian mascot isn’t a good idea? Dare I say, racist. But that can’t be true. After all, this is Cal Poly. We are never racist here.
But just in case, let’s do some background research.
For those who don’t know, UCSB’s mascot is a Gaucho. UCSB’s student population chose this to be their mascot in 1936 after a popular movie came out in 1927 called “The Gaucho” starring Douglas Fairbanks according to UCSB’s athletics website. However, the Gaucho’s history actually goes back further than a Hollywood movie. Gauchos were originally horsemen who arose in the Argentine and Uruguayan “Pampas” or grasslands, during the mid-18th thorugh the mid 19th century. They hunted and herded escaped horses and cattle and became symbols in Agentinian folk culture similar to how we think of cowboys today in America.
Tortillas play a significant role in traditional Mexican dishes, not Argentinian. Assuming that these cultures are the same reinforces racist notions and disrespects their unique histories. So purposefully sneaking in food in order to mock this culture isn’t the best choice.
It wasn’t until 1997 that UCSB students started throwing tortillas during televised basketball games. Cal Poly hopped on board and began throwing tortillas at games against the Gauchos, but the tradition is actually a UCSB one.
The absolutely hilarious part of this is that most students probably have no idea what a gaucho even is, nevermind why they throw tortillas in the first place. Ask most people why they sneaking in this flat pancake and they will probably have no idea. They just throw them because their friends do and their friends throw them because their other friends do and by the end we are all united together in this great circle of racism.
To conclude: Think before you throw.