Cinco de Mayo — Don’t Do It
Most Americans don’t even know what the date represents
If you have friends who aren’t Mexican who like to “celebrate” cinco de mayo, please tell them to think twice. Here’s why.
- You’re not celebrating Mexican culture. Mexican Americans don’t make a big deal out of cinco de mayo. Mexican Independence Day is a much bigger holiday for us. Oh, you thought cinco de mayo was Mexican Independence Day? You can’t celebrate a culture when you don’t know what you’re celebrating.
- Alcohol. Americans do not need another excuse to imbibe, and increasing numbers are trying to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume. We have enough alcohol in our lives when even yoga classes advertise post-class mimosas. Please take this annual binge-drink off the calendar.
- Racism. It’s too easy for cinco de mayo “celebrations” to turn into brownface and other forms of racism. Many white people get out sombreros, sarapes and big mustaches. Sometimes they pretend to sing “La Cucaracha.” It’s offensive.
- Appropriation. If you take part in a mostly white cinco de mayo drink-fest that doesn’t address what the holiday is really about, you are appropriating Mexican culture.
If you want to honor Mexican culture in a respectful way, here are much better ideas.
- Educate yourself about what holidays are important to Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
- Go to celebrations hosted by the Mexican American community near you. Be a guest at their cinco de mayo celebration and traditions such as Mexican Independence Day (it’s in September) and the feast day of La Virgen de Guadalupe.
- Visit museums such as Chicago’s National Museum of Mexican Art. Take your time and read all the notes next to the exhibits.
- Consume media created by Mexicans and Mexican Americans: movies, books, videos, blogs, websites, articles, even Twitter feeds and Instagrams. Investigate further the topics that intrigue you.
If you still want to honor cinco de mayo, maybe invite friends over to watch a Mexican-made movie. There are many ways to include Mexican American culture in your life without risking offending anyone.
If you can’t talk your cinco-de-mayo-drinking friends into exploring real culture with you, at least ask them not to call their drinking party “cinco de mayo.” If you don’t feel like you can do that, please don’t participate in it and let them know why. If you do that: thank you!