A collegiate softball team in western Michigan sparked a firestorm on social media for posting a photo of players in sombreros on Cinco de Mayo.
The official account for the Hope College softball team posted a photo of 10 players at an “informal team gathering,” wherein five players were donning sombreros. According to the school, the post drew ire for its alleged cultural appropriation of Mexican culture. Students contacted the administration expressing outrage and demanding that the players be punished.
The post was promptly removed and replaced with an apology from Coach Mary VandeHoef, who took the blame for posting the photo to the team’s account.
“By wearing the sombreros, we turned a culture into a costume, and by posting the image, we demonstrated a lack of awareness. That was wrong,” VandeHoef said. “I have reached out to the Center for Diversity and Inclusion leadership and our Athletics administration to take the next step forward and I’m committed to developing resources for our team … I am sorry it was at the expense of students and a culture that are [sic] often marginalized and misrepresented.”
Hope College administrators sent out an email claiming that a photo of teens wearing sombreros caused “pain” for the school’s “Latinx” employees and students.
“The original post featured a picture of softball players wearing sombreros at an informal team gathering,” the email reads. “In her apology, Coach Mary VandeHoef recognized the hurt caused by turning a culture into a costume — a hurt that is felt especially deep by our Latinx students, staff, and faculty. We, too, acknowledge the pain this caused, we apologize, and we stand with our Latinx community.”
The statement was signed by the school’s President Matthew Scogin, Chief Officer for Culture Inclusion Sonja Trent-Brown, Dean of Students Richard Frost, and Director of Athletics Tim Schoonveld.
Hope College indicated that it has no intention of removing any coaches or players, instead, it has opted to “recommit to listening, learning, grace, belonging, and understanding.
“Let’s make our campus a more racially just and equitable community,” the email concluded.
Hope College did not respond to The Daily Wire’s request for comment.
In recent years, colleges have crafted guidelines and policies to ensure that students remain within politically correct boundaries. Campus Reform reported that even small colleges in Pennsylvania are cracking down on cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes.
In 2019, Dickinson College’s Women’s and Gender Resource Center posted a guide on “How to Assess the Appropriateness of a Halloween Costume.” The guide asks students to avoid any costume that is “offensive to any race, religion, culture, belief, [or] group of people,” or a costume that may reinforce stereotypes.
Politically correct standards, including cultural appropriation, have moved beyond the campus as well. In August, pop singer Adele was accused of cultural appropriation for styling her hair in Bantu knots and wearing a Jamaican flag bikini. In April, pop star Justin Bieber was accused of cultural appropriation for the sin of wearing dreadlocks
Model Kendall Jenner was also accused of cultural appropriation after launching a tequila brand she claimed to have been working on for nearly four years.