Mayor Steve Callaway is an avid fan of the Hillsboro Hops, as anyone who occasionally glances at his Twitter feed knows. During a recent game in Eugene someone called our city “HillsBurrito” to Callaway, not knowing he is the mayor.
Hillsburrito, if you didn’t know, is a slang name for our city mostly used by a particular subset of old white guys. It’s intended as a derogatory reference to our Hispanic population.
Callaway called out the person who used the term in person, then posted the story on Twitter. Here it is in an easy-to-read pull quote, which you can easily share with your Twitter-phobic friends:
As I was leaving PK Park in Eugene after the Hops vs Emeralds game a man made a comment to me about HillsBurrito. I turned and asked him why he said that. He said it’s because we have a lot of Latinos in Hillsboro. He added, “I know what I said was racist and I’m sorry for offending you.” I told him I was the Mayor of Hillsboro (wish I could convey the shock on his face) and spoke truth to him about the beauty, strength, and richness that comes from the diversity of my community. I told him it wasn’t about me being offended but was about him being offensive and I agreed what he said sounded racist to me too.
I shared with him that more than 100,000 people live in Hillsboro and though we are from many, many countries throughout the world we call Hillsboro home. Our languages may sound different but we all speak a language of acceptance and love. Our places of worship may look and sound different but our faith traditions focus on acceptance and love.
So my friends and neighbors, my brothers and sisters, no matter where you’re from, no matter how you speak, no matter how you worship, thank you for choosing Hillsboro for your home. Thank you for your strength, your contributions, your love and acceptance. Collectively you provide me with the most amazing place I get to call home.
This is a very thoughtful response, and I was thankful to read it.
But if I can be completely unthoughtful for a second: why isn’t there a burrito place in town called HillsBurrito? Putting the word “burrito” into our city’s name is intended as an insult, but it doesn’t work because burritos are the best damn food ever created by humans. I’ll admit this could be a profoundly terrible idea from a privileged white Canadian, and if so I apologize. But I think this dumb bit of slang can and should be reclaimed.
I’m proud to live in a city that’s more diverse than the rest of the region, and think we should do more to own that. Diversity isn’t a punchline. It’s a strength. It’s what makes Hillsboro great.