Many people can agree that people are more connected and open to welcoming people from different backgrounds. However, with the increase of social connectivity there is also a rise in cultural collisions. These collisions get captured on camera and go viral on the internet and may consist of physical/ verbal abuse to immigrants and makes us question how much acceptance has taken place.
These collisions can be personal experiences as well as widely shared experiences within a group of people that share the same cultural background. Immigration from Mexico has been a much debated and hot topic for years. Many movies, social experiments, and public icons have done work to bring in acceptance of Hispanic immigrants.
The Elote man is a significant entity within the Hispanic community. An Elote man is usually a Hispanic man or woman who sells Mexican style corn, and other goodies and snacks around neighborhoods and you can usually find one on the corner of a sidewalk.
Many Mexican Street vendors are undocumented and don’t qualify for aid and may fall victim to prejudice actions from others. Unfortunately, there has been a rising trend of the abuse of local Elote men along with other Mexican street vendors with multiple viral videos streaming across TikTok and Twitter of people damaging their property, yelling racial slurs, and stealing from them.
Social media influencer Edin Alex Enamorado also known as @Enamoraldoalex on Instagram is a public figure who is a street vendor activist in his free time. He shares stories of street vendors who have been vandalized, physically assaulted or have come down on hard financial times.
Enamorado explains how street vendors don’t have access to financial public assistance or job security describes how detrimental it can be if something goes wrong for a vendor and how hard it is to recover financially.
Cultural collision is something many people from different cultural backgrounds experience. “The coming together of two self-consistent but habitually incompatible frames of reference cause un choque, a cultural collision” (Anzaldúa, 1999, p. 100). In Anzaldúa’s text she explains how cultural collisions can cause inner conflict that people may face when it comes to seeing their culture clashing.
When it comes to immigrants coming into the United States this also means that their culture may collide and challenge the dominant culture of the US. Which is easier said than done. Anzaldúa said “Or perhaps we will decide to disengage from the dominant culture, write it off altogether as a lost cause” (Anzaldúa, 1999, p. 101). One can interpret this as it is difficult to merge into American culture and may feel as if it’s a lost cause to try to integrate.
A person from the Hispanic community can feel as if our culture is colliding with the American culture and is being rejected. To see a staple piece of our culture be physically assaulted and not supported and left to fend for themselves can feel like a personal attack on oneself.
When discussing the mistreatment of the Elote man and other street vendors we can tie this into intersectionality, “Complex social inequalities of class, nation, race, and ethnicity are linked to immigrant experiences” (Collins, 2015, p. 7) Intersectionality is the concept individuals don’t just belong to one singular identity group and they often have multiple aspects of their identity that intersect and influence their experiences.
Elote men can represent multiple dimensions to Hispanic identity. It is not only Hispanic but deals with other aspects such as socioeconomic status. Elote men usually are immigrants who face discrimination related to both their cultural background and immigration status.
It is important to identify intersectionality so we can work towards a more inclusive and acceptance of hard working immigrants who just want to support their families and build a future.
Even with the rise of interconnectedness of today’s society which has undoubtedly brought people from different cultural backgrounds closer together, it unfortunately has increased the exposure of the reality of cultural collisions and the challenges that come with it.
The mistreatment of Elote men and other street vendors as shown by Enamorado in his post serves as a reminder that acceptance and understanding are not always embraced. While these cultural collisions do not represent the American ideal culture, they highlight the need for more effort to promote acceptance among culturally diverse communities.
To create a more inclusive society is important for individuals and communities to actively work to embrace diversity and combat prejudice. The journey toward a more accepting society is still a work in progress, and these cultural collisions remind us of the importance of putting in the effort into building a more culturally inclusive world.