Twitch has announced a number of initiatives to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honors the “histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.”
However, after Twitch added emotes, including a sombrero, a pair of maracas, and mariachi instruments, the video live streaming service received significant backlash for perpetuating stereotypes and promptly removed them.
Twitch also issued an apology, stating, “We launched these emote modifiers today as part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month but we clearly missed the mark, and we apologize. These were not an appropriate representation of Hispanic and LatinX culture, and we’ve removed them.”
Although the gaming community has recently attempted to address the lack of diversity in the industry, some have considered the effort underwhelming. Currently, only 5% of those working in the gaming industry identify as Hispanic or Latino. Meanwhile, 13% of Hispanics in the United States consider themselves gamers.
Despite backtracking on the emotes, Twitch’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, which run from September 15 to October 15, will feature Hispanic and LatinX streamers on the site’s front page. In addition, Latinx in Gaming, a non-profit organization, will host a virtual summit called Unidos Online on its Twitch channel from October 9-11, which will highlight Latinx creatives “in a series of segments ranging from panels, game tournaments, cook-offs, and more”.
In July, Twitch was also criticized after posting a video to its Twitter page in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The video featured an overwhelmingly white cast and only a few lines were spoken by Black creators. Twitch responded to the backlash on Twitter, writing, “We hear you. Our goal was to demonstrate the importance of allyship – a message we didn’t make clear.”
A few weeks before, Twitch posted a video on Twitter to celebrate LGBT+ content creators that included the line “The G in LGBTQIA+ also stands for gamer.” The video was quickly removed after fans responded angrily online.
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