In Amarillo, a Mexican restaurant called & # 39; Big Beaners & # 39; provokes controversy - Texas Monthly


Last Thursday, I logged into Facebook and saw a post that hit me in the gut. It was a op-ed about a new Mexican restaurant in Amarillo called Big Beaners; the word "beaner" is a race direction with a long and ugly history. The restaurant's red-and-green sign also features a kidney-bean cartoon figure mascot, complete with a whisker of gesture, sombrero and pointy cowboy. Taken together, the name and logo are all cases of debased caricatures that do not have Mexicans, Mexican Americans and their food stereotyped – from the & # 39; e term & # 39; wetback & # 39; to & # 39; a notorious & # 39;Mexican sleeps”Image once used by Taco Bell and other restaurants.

The news had already caused a ruckus Reddit, where some suspected Mexican American users wrote that the name did not offend them, while others called it "very racist" and surprised them, "This can't be real." In the op-ed I saw on Facebook, Amarillo radio deejay Danny Wright wrote that he initially assumed the name was a joke. He asked: & # 39; Would you accept a store that sold bathing suits with the name Wetbacks? I don't think so. "Wright referred to another devastating term, one that was not used in 1920 for the first time in print by the The New York Times. It was also used in the name of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's mass deportation of Mexicans in the mid-1950s, Operation Wetback.

Over the weekend, as people across the nation protest the death of another unarmed black man in intensive police matters. A Change.org petition appeal to restaurant owner Jesse Quackenbush to change the name and logo that appeared; as of this writing, approximately 6,700 people had signed. Someone also broke windows at the restaurant, according to a Facebook post by Quackenbush, that didn't tell Month of Texas that the restaurant is set to open June 19.

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To understand the controversy, it's worth taking a step back and learning about the history of "beaner." The pejorative comes from the millennial-long importance of beans to the Mexican diet. Although from the white American perspective, beans are often seen as a food of poverty, but they are high in nutrition and are eaten in cultures around the world. Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, traces "beaner" back to a story in 1965 in & # 39; e Detroit Free Press. I also found an early copy of the word in 1979 Fort Worth Star-Telegram story, who did not recognize it was in use at the time: "Now … the brown paint people are & # 39; conks & # 39; or & # 39; beaners & # 39; or aliens." An 1985 AP article in & # 39; e Tyler, Texas, Courier Times called Beaner, an epileptic pet bobcat from Mexico. However, over the decades, the term did not benefit.

"Honestly, if you call Mexicans a banner, then at this point you're a seventy-year-old racist, ”Arellano said. "Now they just call you & # 39; illegal & # 39; as an & # 39; illegal alien. & # 39; & # 39; Unfortunately, & # 39; has beaner & # 39; made a comeback. In 2018, a man named Pedro visited a Starbucks Los Angeles area. His coffees came with the word "beaner" written on both cupss. (Starbucks, which was already training for employee bias because of an unrelated incident, apologized.) And in January of last year, the The New York Times used “beaner” as an answer in the crossword (the question was about baseball). The paper later ran an apology.

For Omar Lopez, who grew up in Wheeler's Panhandle town and now lives in Amarillo, mentions & # 39; beaner & # 39; painful memories of & # 39; e middle and high school. “It's a term that me and other Mexicans around my school are called by some racist white people (when) we got into arguments or (when) they were outraged. The same with & # 39; wetback & # 39 ;, says Lopez, who is the manager for the Amarillo Progressives Facebook group. The page members are currently compiling a list of Latino-owned businesses that Amarillo residents can support.

Big Beaners owner Jesse Quackenbush defends his choice of name and logo in a Facebook screed, notes that he received some complaints. "I do not intend to change or cross the name after pressure of these issues, which are not even Spanish," Quackenbush wrote. He added that he received a call from Abel Bosquez, president of the Amarillo chapter of the & # 39; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), urging him to change the name. Quackenbush also said that Bosquez took LULAC by name and the Spanish Chamber of Commerce Amarillo. "He had no intentions of listening or understanding, so I ended the conversation briefly by advising him and his suspected complainants to & # 39; f— get off and go to Starbucks! & # 39;" Quackenbush wrote, adding, "Adjustable (sic) Bosquez is nothing more than a self-serving, wannabe politician with the general feel of a shit fly."

When we talked over the phone later that day, Quackenbush said he & # 39; Abel Bosquez would probably be treated a little short and unprofessional. … He called me. And the tone that he had me, I felt intimidating and heavily armed. And I didn't appreciate it. "

Bosquez tells a slightly different story. However, the two spoke by phone, he said. Bosquez mentioned the complaints, explained how the sign and name of the restaurant were hurt, and asked if Quackenbush could change the name and logo. However, he says he did not name LULAC or the Spanish Chamber. "(Quackenbush) went from the deep end," said the Latino community leader. & # 39; And then he hung up on me. & # 39; Bosquez told Month of Texas that he often heard the epithet "beaner" during his youth in & # 39; e Panhandle in & # 39; a sixties. "His name and sign are juxtaposed and racist," Bosquez said. “There were other names (Quackenbush) could have used. … That logo makes fun of & # 39; Mexican culture. & # 39;

On Friday, the Hispanic Chamber inaugurated explanation decides to take sides in the dispute. "The AHCC is a business organization and not a civil rights organization," wrote Executive Director Ruby Moreno.

The intense controversy had surprised him, Quackenbush said. "I never thought this would blow up," he said. His business will be focused on specialty beans, he said. & # 39; I think I could have called it Big Beanery. … We serve Mexican food in Texas, and that's the reason for the cowboy boots (in the logo). "

So why not call the Big Beanery restaurant, I asked? "I like Big Beaners," Quackenbush said. & # 39; That's the name of our corporation – we've spent money on this brand. Would that have been so striking? Something with the word & # 39; bean & # 39; there in America is now restrictions? & # 39;

The complaints he saw online, he went on, stemmed mainly from non-Latinos. & # 39; Mexican Mexican-Americans, at least not in this community … They are not abusive here. They think it's a cool name. Is my intention to send a racist message? Absolutely not, ”he continued. & # 39; I would never deliberately try to offend someone because of their heritage, their culture. … I love Hispanic culture. I have a house in Costa Rica. ”He later indicated via email that at least one other restaurant has a similar name: Beaner & # 39; s Mexican BBQ in Hebron, Illinois.

Of the several Amarillo Mexican restaurants I called and the managers and owners with whom I spoke, most said they had never heard of Big Beaners. Only would go on the record. “Oh. I don't think this is a term of satisfaction, "said Mary Martinez, owner of & # 39; 35-year-old La Frontera, a small Adobe mission-style restaurant. & # 39; That's not very fun. & # 39; Still, she wants to give the owner the benefit of the doubt. "I'm sure they don't mean it – I don't know – but it doesn't come across very well," she said.

I have asked Quackenbush if he is considering changing the name. & # 39; I do not support my position here, & # 39; he said. It's too late, he explained – he's already ordered coffee cups and other merchandise with the logo.

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