Earlier in March, I commented about how the cultural center debacle was proof of the concerted effort to de-Mexicanize El Paso. As you might remember I pointed out how the cowboy mystique has usurped the original vaquero with a caricature that completely ignores the Mexican culture of El Paso. I also reminded you of the infamous Glass Beach study that clearly made the point that the future of El Paso lay in erasing anything having to do with Mexico. The proof of this phenomenon is all around us and yet may El Pasoans refuse to believe it.
This weekend, KVIA and the El Paso Times informed us of a new city tourism campaign that is about to be unveiled. According to KVIA, the new “catchy slogan” will be “El Paso Up.” Destination El Paso is hoping that “El Paso Up” drives tourism to the city. Ever since the Glass Beach study, El Paso’s slogans and brandings campaigns have been a complete failure.
As with the previous branding campaigns, this latest one misses the most important component of El Paso’s culture – anything Mexican related.
This is by design. The Glass Beach study clearly laid the groundwork for de-Mexicanizing El Paso. It has been the blueprint for El Paso since.
Take a look at the collateral for the new branding logo that was released to the news media. Notice what is missing?
Mexico, the gateway to Mexico is so ashamed of its Mexican identity that it has been trying to hide it for years now.
Look closely, “More Shops..Less Yee-Haw” and some Anglo dame dressed up in a cowboy getup that no self-respecting vaquero, male or female, would ever be caught dead in. Don’t even get me started on the Chihuahua mutt all ghettoed up in a Luchador mask.
In other words, El Paso is trying to be anglo-centric ignoring the inconvenient fact that El Paso is over 80% Hispanic.
According to the El Paso Times, Bryan Crowe, general manager for Destination El Paso, states that their “focus for tourism marketing is not normally in El Paso, so El Pasoans really don’t get the opportunity to see everything we do to market to the United States and Northern Mexico markets.”
Clearly, the branding is not intended for El Pasoans. However, isn’t the idea of attracting tourism based on the notion that the city has something different to offer? Why would a tourist want to go to a city that is a carbon copy of their home?
El Paso has three unique and significant things it offers. They are culture, food and history. Those three things have something in common – Mexico. In its quest to de-Mexicanize El Paso, the leadership ignores these three important El Paso attractions.
Contrast all of this with San Antonio.
San Antonio has no problem highlighting the Alamo, where the Texans got their asses handed to them. San Antonio loves to tout their Mexican food that is nothing more than nachos with queso, but they make it sound likes it’s the best Mexican food in the world.
San Antonion’s get it. Mexico is the key and rather than ignore it, they wholeheartedly embrace it.
El Paso, though, would rather follow the blue print of the Glass Beach study and thus it pretends Mexicans are nonexistent in the city. How truly sad.