Turning Hammocks Into Nooses: When White US Tourists Bring Their Racism to Mexico

Elizabeth Silleck La Rue
Momentum
Published in
17 min readNov 12, 2022

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November 12, 2022

Photo by author. Description: a Zoomed-in shot I took of my husband looking at the ocean.

Trigger warning: this post contains photos that may be triggering due to association with racist violence against Black people.

Part 1: The Occupation

We stretched our bellies, hips, quads, lower backs, and ribcages facing forward in the slack, worn hammocks and watched as impossibly white foam bubbled over, time and again, in the crash of the waves on the limestone rock. The breeze was strong, damp, and sharp with the smell of salt. The tarps overhead, slung between the brightly painted rafters, obscured just enough of the powerful Yucatan sun to make it qualify as the “shady” part of the outdoor beach bar.

We were back at the reggae joint that I’d celebrated for its vibes, for its comfort, for its safety, for its energetic barrier against colonizer shenanigans in my post about our choice to emigrate.

This time was different.

They arrived by the ocean side. Five men, three of them abnormally large, in height, stature, and clearly manufactured muscle. One out of shape — flabby breasts jiggling and all — and the fifth smaller and lean, bearded with glasses.

There were three tables large enough to accommodate their party, two of which were wedged in the sand between the other two unoccupied hammocks to our left.

Photo by author. Description: The space (pic from our earlier visit in July); my husband in the hammock I initially occupied, the table the group in question occupied at the left.

Nevertheless, they walked directly to the table which sat in front of the hammocks supporting our relaxed bodies, looked at us, and proceeded to sit on down level with my eyes, and less than five feet from my head. Directly between us and the ocean view, obscuring the waves. I now had a close-up view of their bulky torsos.

“Wow, really?” I said, not quietly but not aggressively loud either, looking over at my husband.

Even with his sunglasses on, I knew he knew, and he knew that I knew, what was meant.

I sighed in frustration. There was a moment where I considered asking them if they would please choose the other table, in front…

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