Finally! Glee acknowledges the racist stereotypes it’s perpetuating, and Santana had the guts to stand up and say it:
“You went from ‘La Cucaracha’ to a bullfighting mariachi. Why don’t you just dress up as the Taco Bell chihuahua and bark the theme song to Dora the Explora? You don’t even know enough [about Latin culture] to be embarrassed about these stereotypes you’re perpetuating.”
Well, kind of.
But let’s backtrack.
When Mr. Shue realises he doesn’t actually know enough about the Spanish language and culture to confidently call himself a Spanish teacher, he enrolls in Spanish night class, run by guest star Ricky Martin as David Martinez. “How did I become so out of touch?” Will wonders.
Firstly, become out of touch? Despite the New Directions kids’ undying devotion for him, Mr. Shue has been out of touch from day one. Not to mention his inappropriate relationships with his students.
And secondly, there’s a lot more to Latin culture than dressing up as a matador and singing “La Cucaracha”, as Santana and Mr. Martinez soon school him in.
But it wasn’t just the South American racial stereotypes who got their fair share of airtime last night. The black prejudice was out in full force, although not acknowledged by Glee. Cutting off their Latin nose to spite their black face?
Synchronised swim coach Roz Washington is one of the most racist characters on the show, in my opinion. She speaks in African American colloquialisms such as “bajonkajonk”. When she challenges Sue Sylvester for leadership of the Cheerios, she tells Sue her “stale white bread moves” aren’t working for the team anymore, insinuating that black girls dance better than white girls and buying into the stereotype that they do.
Also, Miss Pillsbury is on a mission to have her pamphlets infiltrate McKinley High and hands out some to Mercedes and Sam when they come to her about their relationship problems. The pamphlet that Mercedes receives is entitled, “So You’re a Two-Timin’ Ho?” whilst Sam’s reads, “So You’re Dating a Two-Timin’ Ho?” Do you think the show would have given such a racist and sexist title to a pamphlet received by Quinn, for example? They might as well have made the girl on the cover of the pamphlet black because that’s pretty much what they were insinuating: that Merecedes is the sassy, fat, angry, sex-crazed woman of colour.
It remains to be seen whether Glee will actually make an effort in the future to abolish the stereotypes it so readily holds up to its viewers…
Elsewhere: [TV Tropes] Sassy Black Woman.
Image via Channel 131.