Visalia Times Delta
A self-described “comedy satire piece” with racial overtones shared Friday on social media by Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) is raising some eyebrows.
The post, a riff on a popular Christmas carol, called “The 12 Vato Days of Christmas” promotes harmful stereotypes about Mexican-American culture, some constituents said. “Vato” is Spanish slang that roughly translates in English to “dude.”
Lines that attracted the most criticism included, “On the fifth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….’FIVE STOLEN RINGS'” and “On the Tenth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Ten EBT cards.”
“Lovely to know what local leaders like Assemblyman Devon Mathis think about brown people like myself and others,” wrote Ralph Enriquez, a Visalia constituent in a social media reply. “Just change the word ‘vato’ to ‘Mexican’ and the meaning becomes apparent.”
Mathis defended the post. His campaign criticized the media and people who accused him of “racist” behavior in a subsequent Facebook post.
Mathis is a U.S. Army combat veteran and said a fellow veteran wrote the piece to “cheer up our troops” while they were deployed together in Iraq over Christmas 2007.