Is celebrating Cinco de Mayo cultural appropriation? | The Tylt
Is celebrating Cinco de Mayo cultural appropriation?
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo can quickly escalate from something innocuous to outright racist behavior. According to 90.9 WBUR's Maria Garcia, the celebration itself is a slippery slope for Americans who never otherwise engage in Mexican culture. Garcia writes:
...I try to avoid celebrations in which people who otherwise do not at all engage with Mexican culture merrily wear sombreros and serapes and chug tequila on this day.
Garcia reminds readers that the purpose of Cinco de Mayo is to commemorate a battle in which the Mexican Army defeated the French against all odds. According to Garcia, Mexican-Americans living in California viewed this victory as essential to the success of the Union and putting an end to slavery. The holiday, Garcia points out, has Mexican-American roots. Now, the true meaning behind Cinco de Mayo has been overtaken by commercialism, particularly among beer companies.
If you don't know or care what Cinco de Mayo really celebrates, if you haven't spent some time thinking about your own biases against Mexicans, if you don't know the history of lynchings and systemic discrimination against Mexicans in this country, if you avoid conversations about immigration or enter them in bad faith, if you don't know the human cost it took for Mexicans to change some fundamental labor laws in this country, or if you don't have any Mexican friends in your life, maybe you shouldn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo.