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Pendejo Alert: YouTuber Goes to Mariachi Plaza Dressed as Mexican Caricature, Gets Checked

[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]hat happens when you wear a "multicolor fiesta serape"and oversized sombrero costume, paint-on a mustache, and walk around the streets of the most contentious anti-gentrification neighborhood in Los Angeles? You get checked, that’s what.

On the evening of Tuesday, June 25, YouTubers Daniela Banikova and  Kimo Basha learned this the hard way, while trying to get some sensationalistic content about “cultural appropriation” for their channel.

They arrived at Mariachi Plaza along 1st Street in Boyle Heights, with Kimo wearing an offensive costume based on early 20th Century stereotypes of “Mexican,” complete with a drawn-on mustache. But one local wasn’t having it.

Nico Avina, co-owner of store and creative space Espacio 1839, confronted the buffoons. He posted two videos of the incident on Instagram, which his wife and business partner Myra Vásquez recorded.

Two videos Avina posted on Instagram show what happened in front of their shop on 1st St. at about 7:50 pm, as Nico was parking to pick up his wife after closing the shop for the day. Both are longtime residents of Boyle Heights and advocates in the community.

'What got me was their privilege to be able to do this in our community'

“I heard him say ‘Arriba! Arriba!’ in a high-pitched voice,” Avina told L.A. Taco in a phone interview on Thursday. “The women were both laughing and acting like this was a joke.”

In the video, Banikova and Basha are laughing about the altercation and agreeing that they both indeed did “think it is funny.” According to Nico, the fact that they were both directly in front of his shop dressed like that while being completely unapologetic in such trying times in Latino American history got the best of him.

“What got me was their privilege to be able to do this in our community,” he said. “What they don’t understand are the traumatic issues that have been affecting our communities. Not only gentrification but the police brutality, the people dying on the border, Trump’s threats on immigrant raids.”

The situation escalated when Nico noticed that Banikova was recording the tension-filled moments between himself and in a sneaky manner. “I told them, ‘You don’t have my permission to record me,’ and I tried to block the camera lens from recording us. That’s when he shoved my arms away,” he said.

“Once he put his hand on me, I got triggered.” In the second video, Basha is seen challenging Nico to talk about the problem that he created, posturing: “What? Are you an animal? You can’t talk about it?”

Which of course was both a racist and stupid thing to say.

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[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]anikova and Basha have an account on YouTube where they film themselves committing pranks and other cheap stunts. There are videos titled We Tried Being Homeless in Dubai and How to Crash a Pakistani Wedding.

Banikova later posted a statement on her Instagram account about the event. However, it is no longer available. In it, she said, “...All I want is to end [racism] in this country. Maybe the approach sucked. Then we will learn from this …”

Nico said the pair claimed that “they were filming a project about cultural appropriation.” There is also a second video where you can hear Basha ask Nico, “What? Are you an animal? You can’t talk about it?”

Even though the shaky video captured lots of shouting and moments where both parties looked like they were about to exchange blows, Nico, a 44-year-old business owner and father of two, told L.A. Taco that he held himself back.

“I was about to take a swing but when I saw people running out of the taqueria and birrieria next door as things escalated, I thought to myself, ‘Do I want my community to remember me by this?’”

Let this video prove that if you are trying to create content about cultural appropriation, it’s probably not the smartest idea to dress up as a cartoon character that even Cartoon Network was smart enough to ban in 1999.

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