Last December, I was captivated by what seemed to be a simple story that made headlines in Peru: Ricardo Apaza wasn’t allowed back into the movie theater after taking a second bathroom break and forgetting his ticket. The catch? Ricardo wore traditional Andean clothing, he was visiting from his rural hometown, and this incident happened in Lima, the busy capital of Peru. His enraged friend Pierina Papi called it racism.Although the Facebook note that Pierina originally wrote has since been taken down, I still remember some key points of discussion:
- Some thought that this was all blown out of proportion. Although the administration of the theaters maintained that it was just a misunderstanding because Ricardo wasn’t clear in the way he spoke to the employee, an anonymous group of hacker activists threatened organizing a shutdown of the theater’s websites with the tagline “No to Discrimination” and the mayor of the city still closed down the theaters for a week as punishment for what was determined to be racism.
- Some pointed out that it wasn’t common for people to show up at theaters in Lima with the kind of traditional clothes Ricardo wore. These are clothes typically worn by people who sell on the street, although the director of marketing of the theaters mentioned that they’ve let street children in for free before when well-meaning tourists want to take them to the movies.
- Some were furious that the employee had apparently insulted Ricardo, accusing him of trying to get in without paying for a ticket, even though she later denied it and claimed that she treated him with respect and kindness (all above links in Spanish).
What was the latest case of discrimination you noticed in your environment? Did you do something about it?