It is during times of desperation that we are most prone to making mistakes. With just 7 games remaining in another dismal season, the Sacramento Kings looked to capitalize on an internet frenzy that occurred after a closed-captioning error referred to Kings’ rookie, Nik Stauskas, as “Sauce Castillo,” during a March 24th broadcast of a Kings-Sixers game. It was only a matter of time before the name began spreading on social media networks as fans flooded the internet with photos and commentary commemorating the new-found moniker. Desperate for any type of publicity, the Kings jumped on the opportunity with the announcement of “Sauce Castillo Night” set for Sunday, April 5th.
Although not overtly promoted as a Latino-themed night, the nature of the ‘Sauce Castillo’ night set the stage for cultural appropriation to rear its ugly head as fans flocked Sleep Train Arena donning the poncho-sombrero-mustache costumes typically reserved for Cinco de Mayo parties hosted by white college kids. While I’m sure the Kings had no intentions of being malicious or insensitive, their lack of preparation and knowledge of cultural differences and current events indirectly created a backdrop for the perpetuation of Latino stereotypes to occur during their promotional night.
The ‘Sauce Castillo’ gimmick is problematic for numerous reasons related to the ethnic notions and stigmas historically placed upon the names and identities of Latino men and women in this country. The existence of cultural biases and preconceived ideas continue to be detrimental to the identities of Latinos in America. The viral story of the man who changed his name from “Jose” to “Joe” on his resumé brilliantly revealed the Latino experience. With the topic of immigration also being a heavily debated one, anti-Latino sentiments and waves of white nationalism have continued to portray Latinos negatively, continuing the struggle for inclusion and identification as Americans. With race being such a sensitive topic in today’s time, the Kings made a poor choice in their marketing office. The use of ethnic names should never be used in a marketing ploy. Frankly, they allowed the power of social media to influence them into something that should have been thought about more thoroughly. The message the Kings sent by celebrating the “Sauce Castillo” name is that your names aren’t good enough unless being used as a joke we can all laugh at and enjoy. Perhaps moving forward the Kings will drop the ‘Castillo’ and opt for the more appropriate “Sauce-kas” nickname in reference to their rookie wingman. We all make mistakes, but let’s hope the Kings learn their lesson.
– by Diego Escutia