Earlier today, Twitch announced several initiatives to kick off National Hispanic Heritage Month, a 30-day period for celebrating the “histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.” As part of this, Twitch added the ability to customize emotes with accessories from those cultures, but after criticism about stereotypes, Twitch has removed and apologized for them.
“Starting September 15th, you’ll also be able to use Channel Points to customize your favorite emotes,” Twitch’s original copy read. “Use a customized sub emote to show your support for your favorite Hispanic and LatinX streamer.”
The customizations in question included a sombrero, a pair of maracas, and what appeared to be a guitarrón mexicano, an acoustic bass commonly used in mariachi music. Shortly after the blog post went live, social media lit up with criticism, with many calling the decision a “bad look” and decrying Twitch’s simplistic view of the cultures it intended to celebrate. Three hours later, the streaming platform removed the section about emotes from its announcement and offered a public mea culpa.
“We launched these emote modifiers today as part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month but we clearly missed the mark, and we apologize,” the company wrote on Twitter. “These were not an appropriate representation of Hispanic and LatinX culture, and we’ve removed them.”
While Twitch obviously means well by promoting Hispanic and Latinx users on its site, it’s the perfect example of how a vast range of unique cultures can be erased by homogenizing them under a single banner. As the American government continues to inflict untold horrors on immigrants from Central and South America, let’s all do our part to uplift and support these communities—not just in the gaming world, but everywhere.