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WSU In Trouble For Luchador Mask Giveaway

A Latino student group at Washington State University wants to bodyslam the administration over a luchador mask giveaway this past Halloween. The local chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/a de Aztlán strongly objected to the university’s plan to hand out a specially designed lucha libre mask called “El Cougador” named after their team the Cougars. M.E.CH.A is concerned that the school is appropriating and misusing a cherished symbol to make money,

“The luchador mask is an important cultural symbol to many Chicano/a Latino/a students on the Washington State University campus. By taking this symbol and using it as a marketing gimmick the WSU Athletics marketing department is devaluing and decontextualizing a part of the Chicano/Latino cultural identity.”

Fair enough. Of course the school is using it to make money. That’s what all sports programs do. But is it wrong for the school to use the lucha mask in such a way? I can see where on one level it is similar to the debate over whether sports teams should incorporate Native American names and imagery. It’s not like WSU wanted to change the name of the team to the WSU Beaners or anything. This might be a little bit of an overreaction. I mean, lucha libre isn’t just a Latino thing anymore. Wrestlers like Rey Mysterio, Jr. have brought the classic lucha style into the American mainstream. I think the giveaway has more to do with the fact that it was Halloween and it is a mask than trying to be culturally insensitive to Latinos. I guess at the end of the day it is a matter of perspective. What do you think? Was it wrong of WSU to use lucha libre imagery or is M.E.CH.A just being overly P.C.?

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