EMERYVILLE — A costume dubbed "Mexican Man" has offended Latino shoppers and community groups after being discovered at a Halloween chain store.
The photo on the costume packaging shows a man with a thick mustache wearing a poncho and a sombrero. Oakland resident Monica Plazola said she discovered the costume last week at the Spirit Halloween store in Emeryville, which she was visiting with her two children, ages 7 and 9.
"We were there at the store, with all kinds of costumes, and that was the only one identified racially," she said. "I was really surprised that kind of costume existed in this day and age. I was kind of stumped on it."
Her husband, Carlos, said he could not remember the last time he'd seen something so blatantly stereotypical.
"It's incredibly offensive," he said. "I can't imagine them reducing any other culture to a costume like that and calling it by that ethnic name. Reducing a culture to such a stereotype is harmful and insulting. I can't imagine a Chinese man or black man being put out there and it being OK."
Mara Chavez, deputy director at Centro Legal De La Raza in Oakland, said her organization discovered the costume when the Plazolas sent them the photos. The group is asking Spirit Halloween to pull the costumes from the shelves.
"These costumes need to be taken out and not sold," she said. "As Latinos, we are a big percentage of consumers here in the state of California, so it is to their best interest to not depict such insulting costumes. It affects them in terms of their profits as well."
The manager of Spirit Halloween in Emeryville confirmed the availability of the costume but declined to comment, and representatives for the corporation did not return several phone calls made Sunday through Wednesday.