Racist T-shirts sold at South Carolina 'Mexican-themed' restaurant

Posted by Mark Segal Kemp on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 7:45 AM

God bless South Carolina. No, really - bless it. The state needs a little blessing. Or at least, the non-white, non-heterosexual, non-males who choose to live there need blessing. Actually, they could probably use bodyguards.

Latest case in point: A certain non-Mexican-owned Mexican restaurant (or, at least, it appears to be non-Mexican-owned; the owner's name is Leanne Snelgrove) in Columbia has been hawking racist T-shirts to its customers. Fortunately, a Columbia high school teacher snapped a pic of the T-shirt, which Columbia Free Times reporter Corey Hutchins tweeted from his personal account. The picture - and Hutchins' Free Times story - was picked up by the Huffington Post and has since gone semi-viral.

Taco con racism, coming up!
  • Nathan Sloan
  • Taco con racism, coming up!

Here's an excerpt from Hutchins' report:

Local high school teacher Nathan Sloan doesn't usually eat at Taco Cid, but when he dropped in to the West Columbia eatery on New Year's Day for some Mexican food he left shaking his head at the T-shirts worn by staff.

"How to catch an illegal immigrant," read the back of a shirt worn by someone manning the register. It featured an image of a makeshift box trap using tacos as bait. The shirts were also for sale.

Sloan snapped a photo of the T-shirt and passed it along to University of South Carolina women and gender studies professor Debbie Billings, who circulated it to local activists and media. Controversy ensued.

Since then, Taco Cid has defiantly stood by its T-shirts, posting a defense on its website under a tab called "Regarding Our Shirts."

Our t-shirts were created as a witty and comical statement regarding ILLEGAL immigrants. There are NO racial nor hate remarks towards any specific ethnic group ... If you do not agree with our views on ILLEGAL immigrants, please do not patron our establishment.

No problem, Cid. We'd be glad to not patron your establishment, and we urge others to do the same.

By the way: We're not exactly a bastion of tolerance and progressive thought north of the border here in Charlotte. (Someone on my Facebook page commented, "What would us Tarheels do if we didn't have South Carolina to feel superior to?") But South Carolina-style intolerance has a special flavor and resonance all its own. Mercifully, South Carolina also has some great high school teachers and alt-weekly reporters.

Not to mention pastors - like Sandy Jones, who preaches at Spring of Life Lutheran Hispanic Church.

"I think it's very racist, I think it's a very racist comment," Jones told Columbia's WLTX TV. She's asking Taco Cid to apologize and stop selling the shirts.

"When national news is going to hear and think that everyone in South Carolina thinks like this, that hurts me personally," Jones said. "It makes me very sad."

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

This isn't racism. Get over it.

report 2 likes, 16 dislikes   
Posted by .... on 01/09/2013 at 2:26 PM

Hey "coward" to show name but post ... change "taco" to "penny" and "illegal immigrant" to "Jew" and see what would happen... (I guess that would not be racism either following your IDIOTIC logic).

report 10 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by Jon Augustin on 01/09/2013 at 6:08 PM

It's not racism, it's xenophobia.

However, this is America and we must honor the freedom of speech of low life's like this until it actually becomes dangerous.

The best response is to not patronize his restaurant.

report 4 likes, 2 dislikes   
Posted by DLP on 01/10/2013 at 7:49 AM

@DLP -- I think it's likely a mix of racism AND xenophobia, because I'd be willing to bet this "Mexican-style" taco restaurant sees "Illegal immigrants" as brown-skinned people from Mexico. I seriously doubt the restaurant's little "Illegal immigrant" trap is intended for undocumented Britons, Germans or even white Latin Americans. So, let's call it was it is: racist.

report 10 likes, 4 dislikes   
Posted by Brian, your savior on 01/10/2013 at 9:26 AM


Hispanic is not a race, it is a nationality.

report 1 like, 1 dislike   
Posted by DLP on 01/11/2013 at 8:44 AM

Ha! DLP - Did you even read what I wrote?

report 1 like, 0 dislikes   
Posted by Brian, your savior on 01/11/2013 at 11:14 AM

whatever it is, it is stupid. With the economy the way it is, offending anyone with unnecessarily hurtful advertising shows a real lack of brains. Avoid this place, stupidity might be contagious.

report 3 likes, 1 dislike   
Posted by eric28216 on 01/11/2013 at 2:24 PM

Hispanic is not a nationality. Smh! The t-shirts are offensive and tasteless but I don't think they're "racist". I do know that I will not be eating there after reading this article.

report 1 like, 1 dislike   
Posted by Clay Kennedy on 01/13/2013 at 9:57 AM
Showing 1-8 of 8

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