Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Pork chop? Seriously?

The Philadelphia Phillie's Triple A baseball team, the IronPigs has a mascot -- a "large, furry pig". A contest was held to choose a name for the mascot, and PorkChop won. But there's controversy! It appears that in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley, Puerto Ricans were once nicknamed Pork Chop.

I can see why, honestly. Personally, I love me a good chuleta, and I know I'm not the only one. However, there are people who still remember being called this name in the very region that houses this baseball team, and they're bristling.

The examples given by those interviewed in the article show that this happened "decades" ago. It doesn't appear to be a term that's currently in use. I'm all for being mindful of these kinds of things, but this strikes me as an exaggerated response to a name that was clearly not meant to insult Puerto Ricans or anyone else. A pork chop is an actual object that, independently of any sketchy usage in the past, means nothing nowadays but what it has originally meant -- a delicious part of the pig. And it ties into the mascot itself.

I understand that to those who rememebr this, it may bring back bad memories. But the way I see it, immediate condemnation is not always the answer. Sometimes we need to step back and look at the bigger picture. If hardly anyone remembers this usage, if it's a completely normal word that is still in use, and if it was chosen for reasons wholly unrelated to Puerto Ricans, wouldn't it have been better to not dredge this arcane slur back up? Isn't leaving it buried in the past better than giving it new life? At what point do we let go and move on as a community?


Olga said...

When I was 17 and living in the Canal Zone, I had a friend who always called me "Porkchop". It never bothered me, because I felt he was not being offensive, just funny. It just made me laugh. Besides, it never bothered him when I called him gringo.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I remember being called porkchop in Panama... I didn't like it all...