Father ‘shocked’ when his son caught a racist caricature at a Mardi Gras parade
Pablo Reyes said he’s been helping his 2½-year-old son practice catching so he’d be ready for Carnival. But on Saturday, he was aghast to see one of the things his son caught.
Reyes said that he and his son were waiting on the curb near the corner of Arrow Lane and Terry Parkway in Gretna for the Mystic Knights of Adonis parade.
It was the kind of gentle, family-oriented procession that Reyes felt would be best for his young son. As he held his boy in his arms, float riders tossed beads, stuffed animals, bubble wands and other playthings.
Then, Reyes said, as the eighth or ninth float rolled past, an older rider tossed his son a small object wrapped in a plastic bag.
Inside was a small refrigerator magnet. It was a caricature of a black man holding a watermelon, a racist trope.
“I was shocked,” Reyes said, who snatched the magnet from his son and “threw it right in my pocket.”
Reyes, a heating and air-conditioning technician who lives in Terrytown, said he felt he needed an explanation. He said he called the telephone number on the Adonis website. A krewe representative told him he felt the incident wasn’t acceptable and would talk to the krewe’s captain about it.
On Monday, Adonis Captain Chad Usea said he first learned about the incident when he saw a social media post earlier in the day.
Usea, who took over as captain this year, said that the krewe certainly doesn’t sell any such objects to parade riders, nor does it condone the behavior.
Riders are meant to throw “regular beads and throws the club sells,” he said, and he was working to find out exactly who threw the racist object.
Reyes said a label on the back of the offensive figurine reads: “Hand Painted, Made in China.”
It’s not the first time parade attendees have reported catching offensive throws during Carnival. During the controversy surrounding the removal of New Orleans’ Confederate monuments a few years back, individuals reported catching Confederate flag-motif beads from individuals in the Nyx, Thoth and Carrollton parades.
Reyes said he’s “bummed out” by Saturday’s incident.
“It only took 2½ years for my son to experience racism,” Reyes said. “It’s not going to make me stop going to parades; it will just make me more observant.”