The Amazon-owned platform announced a number of initiatives to uplift Hispanic and Latinx streamers from September 15 to October 15 to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month. One of those initiatives was customized sub emotes, which allows users to take existing Twitch emotes and add some extra assets to them.
The announcement showed modifications to add a sombrero, maracas and guitarrón mexicano (the six-stringed instrument traditionally played by Mexican mariachis) onto existing Twitch emotes.
As Eurogamer reported, it didn’t go over well.
Yo @Twitch as a latinx streamer myself: nooo, hell NO. What the hell is this? This type of crap is just contributing to the stereotype that all of us are Mexican, when our cultures are so diverse. Maybe next time have a hispanic person in your board meeting so this doesn't happen pic.twitter.com/yOnvH8N6B4— Ernie (@ernietoast) September 15, 2020
Maaaaaaybe hire a D&I specialist and actually listen to them before you use <checks notes> sombreros and maracas. https://t.co/3G1d3YXg0H— Mike Futter (@Futterish) September 15, 2020
The bulk of the criticism was focused not just on the stereotypical imagery, but how narrowly it seemed to define Hispanic and Latinx culture.
There are over 60 million Hispanic and Latinx Americans who can trace their respective ancestries from dozens of different Spanish-speaking countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Puerto Rico (which is a territory of the United States), Uruguay and Peru.
Maracas are used widely throughout the Americas and the Caribbean but the type of sombrero shown in the emote modification and the guitarrón mexicano are associated specifically with Mexico. Using these three specific emote mods seemed to imply that the vast breadth of the Hispanic and Latinx American community could be summarized as “Mexican.”
Twitch removed the emote modifications shortly after the criticism and apologized.
We launched these emote modifiers today as part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month but we clearly missed the mark, and we apologize. These were not an appropriate representation of Hispanic and LatinX culture, and we’ve removed them.— Twitch (@Twitch) September 15, 2020
The other initiatives that Twitch announced were received more warmly. For each day of National Hispanic Heritage month, Twitch will be highlighting Latinx and Hispanic streamers on the site’s coveted front page carousel. The list of streamers and their times can be found on Twitch’s blog.
Twitch is also promoting Latinx in Gaming, a nonprofit that works to increase Latinx representation in the video game industry. From Oct. 9 to Oct. 11, Latinx in Gaming will also be hosting Unidos Online, a virtual three-day summit featuring “Latinx creatives, developers, and allies in a series of segments ranging from panels, game tournaments, cook-offs, and more.”
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