Assemblyman Mathis offends with racist Xmas post

State Assemblyman Devon Mathis has upset some of his constituents with a racially-insensitive Christmas poem entitled The 12 Vato Days of Christmas.

Mathis posted the poem to his personal Facebook account on December 18. It remains in place as of the night of Sunday, December 20. While the post received little attention so far, three of the five responses it–including one laden with Spanish profanity–took Mathis to task for the poem’s insensitive treatment of Latino men.

Vato is a Spanish-American slang term similar to “dude,” but carrying a somewhat heavier tone, and it is sometimes used to refer to gang members. The gifts described in the poem include stolen jewelry, cans of spray paint, EBT cards used for spending government benefits, unpaid parking tickets, as well as several items associated with American Latino culture.

In describing the poem, Mathis said the poem was written by a friend in 2007 and is intended as satire. Mathis did not return a call requesting clarification and comment.

The following was written by my Battle, Robert Sarge Perez during Christmas in Iraq 2007, he wrote this to cheer up our troops as a comedy satire piece he titled The 12 Vato Days of Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….
A pair of crispy ironed khakis!
On the second day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….Two fried churros
On the third day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Three faded tattoos
On the fourth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Four rims with tires
On the fifth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….
On the sixth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Six lottery tickets
On the seventh day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….. Seven bowls of menudo
On the eighth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…..Eight baby Chihuahuas
On the Ninth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Nine cans of spray paint
On the Tenth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me…. Ten EBT cards
On the Eleventh day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….11 unpaid parking tickets
On the Twelfth day of Christmas a Vato gave to me….. Twelve dozen tamales


Angry Responses

The post was shared 10 times so far, and has five comments and several “likes.”

“What can you expect from a racist Proud Boy?” wrote Amelia Oliva, responding to Mathis’ post. “Oh, wait. It’s OK because the person who wrote it has Perez as his last name. It’s OK…”

Oliva’s post ended with an emoji indicating the sarcastic nature of her comments. Commenter Richard M. Herrera was far more direct with his condemnation of Mathis.

“Hey, Devon. Thank you for being a puto and pendejo,” he wrote, using profane Spanish epithets to describe the assemblyman. “We’ll be sure to shout ‘puto,’ ‘pendejo’ and ‘cabrón’ if you’re lucky when we see you. Don’t worry. It’s just a joke, hijo de perra.”

Mathis Defends Post

Asked for his comments on the negative responses to his post, Mathis issued a statement defending his posting, adding that sharing the poem via social media has become an annual tradition for him. He then questioned the motives of those who take issue with the use of a derogatory Latino stereotype and attempted to color the complaints as a minority opinion.

“Hasn’t been an issue for over 10 years. Why now?” Mathis wrote in an email. “Why would a small group cry foul? Simple they are still upset that I won a historic reflection [sic] by over 10 points.”

Presumably, Mathis intended to write “re-election” and not “reflection.”


Tulare County Politicos Respond

Drew Phelps, Mathis’ opponent in the recent campaign for the 26th Assembly District seat, called the remark typical of his opponent.

“This is just another iteration in a long line of inappropriate comments that reflect poorly on our district and its constituents,” Phelps said. “Statements like these are why almost 70,000 people–the most ever–voted against him this year.”

Mathis’ post of the poem marks the second time a white politician in Tulare County has made insensitive public remarks about Latino culture. While the Tulare County Board of Supervisors was discussing the distribution of resources to fight COVID-19, Chairman of the Board Peter Vander Poel described Supervisor Eddie Valero, the board’s only Latino member, as wanting “another bite of the tortilla.”

Vander Poel’s remark came during an open meeting of the Board of Supervisors in April of this year. He later made a public apology, but did not comply with calls for his resignation.

Valero said he is unfamiliar with Mathis’ post. He declined to comment without reading it.

Slander Against All Latinos

Farmersville City Councilman Ruben Macareno, who ran as a Democrat for the seat Mathis now occupies in 2014 and ‘16, finds the assemblyman’s post indicative of a mindset that, while fading in most areas, remains frustratingly prevalent among a “certain kinds” of individuals.

He said it was “unfortunate” but not surprising to see such rhetoric from a local elected official–which he said was particularly insensitive in light of the unrest in the wake of the killing of George Floyd–and he called for continued resistance to such behavior.

“We have to call out representatives who do that, or anyone for that matter,” Macareno said. “It’s really disappointing and it means nothing has changed. Things have changed, and nothing has changed. This is still the core of some people.”

Those characterized by Mathis as vatos, he said, are actually victims of poverty.

“The truth of it is they’re in that state because of their economic status and that of their families,” Macareno said. “In that way, it becomes representative of the entire ethnicity.”

22 thoughts on “Assemblyman Mathis offends with racist Xmas post

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  1. Here we go again with the Character assassination of Mathis.
    Below is the definition of the word, The real racism here is when a white guy repeats a poem written by a Mexican that contains the word VATO and you guys want to run with a couple offensive reply comments from a couple of guys with a chip on their shoulder. The real problem here is the BIAS EDITOR OF THE VALLEY VOICE….,seen%20as%20vulgar%20and%20offensive.

    • I don’t think anyone has to assassinate Mathis’s character he does all that on his own with his continuous stupidity.

  2. Oh Please !! People get carried away with EVERYTHING being offensive …. Nit pickers… gotta tear everything apart, dissect it, find fault, blah blah

    • I think that easy easy to say coming from someone who probably is not Latin and has not been oppressed, discriminated against or constantly stereotyped based on their race. Being a women though I would think you could sympathize or offer some type of understanding. GUESS NOT!

  3. I am so honored to see the poem I wrote 13 years ago is now famous. I remember this like it was yesterday. But first as a Mexican-American Combat Veteran of 12 years of Service and 2 Deployments in Iraq 2004-2005, 2007-2008 who’s actual Call Sign was “Vato Loco” True Story. I wrote this on Christmas Eve December 24, 2007 while waiting for EOD to clear an IED that SGT Mathis had actually found and ended up getting an Eagle Eye award for it. We were in the middle of Iraq nervous as hell and trying to rush back to Camp Arifjan to attend a Holiday Christmas Party by our Unit. I was trying to boost morale and get the minds of our soldiers focused. I cant believe after re-posting this year after year never being questions or hit up about it, how quickly my Battle gets slammed for something I wrote. To those calling my Battle a Puto and Pendejo, bring that towards me and I promise you that I will have nothing but the upmost respect for you. Before I even joined the Military, I grew up in East Los Angeles in the middle of the Varrio, yes I said Varrio to those who don’t know, that’s Neighborhood. I ironed my khakis, spray painted on walls, ate menudo just like everyone else on Sunday, not proud of it but actually stole items, had chihuahuas for pets, Had an EBT card at one time but before that it was Food Stamps, for those that personally know me all my tattoos are now faded, and make Tamales every damn year. So yes this is actually about me. So before you Slam my Battle SGT Devon Mathis, thank him for his service and for saving the lives of many that same Christmas Eve back in 2007. If he never spotted that IED, I would not be here today.

    • Mr. Perez and Mr. Mathis, Thank you for your service and protecting my freedoms. I hope you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

    • Richard Perez I thank both you and Devon Mathis for your service and am very glad that Devon was where he needed to be to on that fateful day. I am also glad that you took the time to clarify the history surrounding your poem. Poetry can be entertaining, uplifting, funny, uncomfortable, painful or in your poem’s case can make some angry. To find laughter in the depths of hell is an amazing and wonderful gift you gave to those around you. Ok here goes! My once upon a time red-headed ruddy faced husband too lived in East Los Angeles, he called his Varrio Boyle Heights. He attended Cathedral High working each day at a gas station after school to pay for his school tuition. He is also a Viet Nam Vet inching closer and closer toward 80 years of age. When I read your poem to him, he shook his head, smiled to himself and then commented that” he left out all those church keys”. I personally thought the tamales were the perfect ending to your 12 Days of Christmas Poem after all what would Christmas be without tamales. Thank God my neighbors have been making them for the past two weeks so I’ve been blessed with Christmas tamales. So here is to you Richard and here is to you Devon. I liked the poem for the extraordinary gift that it was meant to be to those you served with. To all others now that you know the history behind the poem be thankful that this poem made a difference to the men who he served with in helping them to find some diversionary laughter for a moment in time to ease their dread and fear. These two guys have a bond that is closer than many of us will ever know and obviously Devon means to honor that band of brothers when he posts it. Focus on his goodwill toward men and try not to assume the worst.

    • I have no respect for Mathis already before finding out about his racist poem. What kind of leader gets drunk off his a$$ and has a ugly divorce that has multiple accusations of admitted child abuse?! He is a monster that has continued to have court cases filed against him for money debt and sexual harassment of staffers! Where there is smoke there is fire and there is a ton of fire with this pathetic chump who is NO HERO! I would love to say that to his face Mr. Perez

      • Don’t know what your military background is but since Mr. Perez most definitely has the credentials of being a combat Veteran of 12 years of service and 2 deployments in Iraq I think I’ll defer to his judgement of Mathias’ being a hero in the eyes of the men who served with him. I am sure that there are large swath of men who served their country honorably only to become far less than honorable in their civilian life. The reasons you listed as to why you have no respect for Mathis are definitely part of the reasons why I voted for the other guy but I still respect his service while in the military to this country just as I respect Mr. Perez serving his country as well. Military service and elected community service are two different types of service. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

        • God will judge what they really “did” in Iraq. All that I have heard from the brothers that have served in Iraq is that many people killed and raped innocent civilians. There is very respectable men and women that serve but many lie, cheat and murder and it bleeds over into their civilian life. Mathis is no hero or example for children as a elected representative even if we stooped low and had Trust fund baby Trump as an example. True leaders walk the walk and learn their lessons from mistakes. Mathis never seemed to be a hero but his “battle” buddies like to claim that! haha Very pathetic and a sad way to use military industrial complex propaganda to get re-elected.

    • Mr. Perez, I am glad you were able to make light of your situation and find the smallest bit of joy while fighting a war as well as the poverty you mentioned you faced growing up in East LA, unfortunately I am dissappointed that you are missing the point of people’s argument in this. That was your personal story, about you a Latin, NOT HIM a white man. If it was a joke among, “Battles” perhaps it was best kept that way, so although you are fine with him sharing it can you understand that it is offensive, as well as derogatory to many of the people that he represents and rightfully so? He is a public servant/government official who serves a community with a huge Latin population how can he not think it offensive to some? How is he not held to a higher standard? Latin population or not it should be offensive to any race of people. I cannot say I understand the comradery shared among veterans as I have never served but people don’t get a pass for posting things that stereotype an already marginalized part of the community because they volunteered to serve in the armed forces. Just as I would not give my own husband a pass because he was a marine or daughter because she was in the army or the other cousin’s, neice’s and nephew’s in my family who have served. He should of used his head a little bit and posted it privately among his, “Battle” The backlash he sees was brought upon himself. For all the people on here who see nothing wrong with this…Well you are part of the problem and until white people along with all the marginalized people in today’s society can come to the table together and acknowledge the wrong in stereotyping and racial disparities that continue today we will always be at odds and our so- called representitives will continue to represent only those they decide to be worthy enough.

  4. The Valley Voice used to be my preferred news source. Notice “used to be”.

    You’ve gone the way of mainstream media with your right wing media articles. It’s really a shame. Shame on you!

  5. My father that worked hard his whole life…

    I am deeply saddened at Assemblyman Devon Mathis
    Devon J. Mathis For Assembly & his petty attempt to slander my father’s Legacy & business of over 50 years!

    By posting a snippet of a screenshot in attenpt to sabotage my father’s business and portray us as Racists!
    Despite the Fact that we are HISPANIC!
    My mother was a migrant teacher and my ancestors were in the Delano Grape Strike with #CesarChavez

    My father worked hard his whole life as an orphan that raised himself.

    Attack me not my Father’s Business!

    Just because you have Tarnished your legacy with a slew of scandals, does not seem becoming of an Assemblyman that claims to care for his constituents.
    And to wait to post until after you had secured your Assembly Seat!

    AND FYI:
    You’re already making the headlines AGAIN!

  6. @Robert Perez – This would be less offensive and maybe not offensive at all if *you* had posted it.

    Probably all groups have in-group language that is not offensive when used among members, but which does turn offensive and inappropriate when used by outsiders or shared with outsiders.

    That seems to be the case here. Mathis and you are insiders to each other due to your being “Battles” (itself apparently an inside term I never heard before both you and he used it).

    That probably makes it OK for you to share with him. No problem there.

    Where it crosses the line is that he then shared it publicly (10 times?). The public at large are not insiders of either his battle buddies or the ethnic group you belong to.

    That way, it’s just him sharing stereotypes inappropriately.

    Which wouldn’t be so so bad if it happened once and he learned from his mistake, but he is doubling down on not learning even though he says he has done this 10 times.

    To me, this shows his poor judgment and definite boundary issues on his part.

    I do hope he learns from this experience and doesn’t decide that he is going to prove how right he is by sharing stereotypes for other holidays.

    Of course, that he doesn’t and hasn’t shared similar stereotypes on other holidays should be all the evidence he needs to understand he made a mistake here and that he should set about atoning himself.

    But he won’t understand and he won’t atone. That’s my bet.

  7. On the 12.5 day, the Vato tellls his ruca ay to watcho, gets on his ramfla, drives to Devon’s house, pulls out quete from the glove, knocks on door, merry Christmas puto, gives the sign of the cross and desmadre on his ass.

  8. I have no respect for Mathis already before finding out about his racist poem. What kind of leader gets drunk off his a$$ and has a ugly divorce that has multiple accusations of admitted child abuse?! He is a monster that has continued to have court cases filed against him for money debt and sexual harassment of staffers! Where there is smoke there is fire and there is a ton of fire with this pathetic chump who is NO HERO! I would love to say that to his face Mr. Perez..

  9. FFine! You don’t like the guy! So you give us a lame brained no-nothing BS aertist who didn’t lose a dime of his income during Covid.

    You do realize that Democrats are destroying the state. Right?

    Mathis has one thing going for him; he’s not a Democrat. That’ll get my vote every time! Democrats are like maggots that need to be exterminatede!

  10. Truth is, though, if you take it in the spirit, it really is pretty funny.

    If another Republican with reasonable qualifications was to run against him, there’s clearly room. But given the sh*t hole that our Democrats are creating, along with their abject hypocrisy, let them rot in h*ll before I’d vote for one.

  11. Dave, as long as you don’t support Qanon you have a point, however Cali will always be liberal, don’t like get out.

  12. We in the latino community should recognize the terrible self image problem that we have. I dont give a darn what other ethnic groups think about us (latinos). What troubles me is that many of us believe the validity of the stupid comments in this “poem”. We latinos love to put ourselves down. Until we fix this problem, we will never participate in our nation on an equal basis.

  13. Yes, and no. Well, that is part of it… A sense of self worth and feelings of inclusivity go a long way however, the centuries, long reign of white supremecy throughout our society that continues today helped shape such self images. I believe it is a first step… recognizing that we as a people are just as capable as anyone is, but the fact remains that racist policies, that be affect Latinos profoundly. As well as all POC.

  14. LET ME CLARIFY Mathis Hypocrisy!
    He had the audacity to screenshot a snippet of something I told him in confidence as his CONSTITUENT!
    The content was posted on MY FATHER’S Faccebook Page.
    It portrays Us As RACISTS!
    That is why I find it extremely OFFENSIVE!
    Two weeks after his sear was secured he posted it in an attempt to sabotage my livelihood!!
    Does Mathis have a brain?

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