“It’s disrespectful, and it’s not a good fit,” said East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito in this excellent article on DNAinfo New York. Mark-Viverito is of Puerto Rican heritage. “When you are talking about a flag and what it represents, being linked to an alcoholic beverage is not reflective of what our culture symbolizes.”
Last week, a grassroots New York City community group called Boricuas for a Positive Image (a Puerto Rican advocacy organization) called on MillerCoors to stop distribution of special Coors Light beer cans decorated with the Puerto Rican flag. The particular can was being marketed as the official bear of the Puerto Rican Day Parade, held on June 9 on Fifth Avenue (from 44th Street to 79th Street) in Manhattan. BFPI issued a press statement and wrote a letter to Simon Bergson of Manhattan Beer Distributors, which is based in the Bronx.
We are very proud of our flag, which represents our history and heritage. Puerto Ricans have striven to excel in American society in spite of our Sisyphean struggle against oppression and discrimination from time immemorial. Our national symbol on your can perpetuates hidden racist stereotypes and messages associated with Latinos while simultaneously denigrating Latinos in general and Puerto Ricans in particular, all of which you disguise by your tasteless imprimatur of our beloved flag on your beer can. It is revolting and embarrassing. It is reminiscent of the scandalous wall mural in the ’90s in East Harlem depicting people drunk on the street, which was ultimately removed. Therefore, we are demanding that this promotional be immediately ended, all distributed cans be re-called and no further distribution take place.
MillerCoors has not yet responded. They’re probably busy looking up the myth of Sisyphus. Take a look at the can design here and give your opinion in the comments.