Images of a Mexican wrapped in a sarape, leaning against a wall or cactus and taking a nap proliferate in Mexican restaurants across the country. Some say this image is a stereotype that promotes the idea that Mexicans are lazy and poor. But others point to the history of the “Sleeping Mexican” in folk art going back to Diego Rivera and Mardonio Magaña.

At a new Mexican restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a petition to remove “Sleeping Mexican” statues has stirred up controversy, reporter Nick de la Canal looks at some of this backstory and what it could mean for future versions of this iconic depiction.

Featured image by Nick de la Canal

12 thoughts on “The ‘Sleeping Mexican:’ Honored Cultural Icon or Derogatory Stereotype?

  1. Sombrero comes from Spanish “sombra” which means “shade”. Sombreros are worn to provide a shadow to protect spanish workers from the sun. The “Sleepy Mexican” statue represents resting after working, if anything. All you have to do is add 2 and 2 together and not be so sensitive.

  2. Really dumb. These are (were?) cool statues and they depict someone taking an afternoon nap in a traditional Mexican outfit in the summer heat. Why is sleeping lazy? It looks comfortable to me and reminds you to take some time out from our stressy lives and enjoy. In fact it makes Mexico look like a place I’d want to visit. Siesta is a tradition in many countries with hot climates. Of course its probably been kicked down and stomped on by hypersensitive babies like so many other works of art. This is why we can’t have nice things.

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