Holidays and traditions are highly celebrated throughout the United States.
In most cases, schools get called off or businesses close their shops for the day. One of those holidays is Cinco De Mayo, which is intended to honor the culture and heritage of Mexico. But hidden beneath lies confusion and misinformation that has challenged the meaning behind the festive day.
The holiday was engraved in history when 2,000 Mexican soldiers fought off 6,000 French and reclaimed their hometown of Puebla in 1862.
Over the past decades, however, Cinco De Mayo has turned more into an excuse for many Americans to reinforce racial stereotypes rather than commemorate the efforts of Mexico and acknowledge the day for what it is.
Not to mention that the commercialization of the holiday acts like a pipeline that feeds those thoughts into fruition.
“Mexico it isn’t as celebrated throughout the country as it is here in the states. It’s just Puebla and the towns around that really tend to celebrate it. Puebla is a border town, so I understand how the US became so influenced by it but it’s just so drastic to see the differences between both countries. I’m not really sure on why it’s more popular with Americans. I think it’s just a holiday that promotes eating and drinking beer which is classic America. It also just fetishizes Mexican culture to a gross point,” Alma Orozco, a 23-year-old Mexican American, said.
For many Americans, they tend to celebrate the holiday without grasping what the call for celebration really is. According to a YouGovAmerica poll, 41% of Americans believe Cinco De Mayo is Mexico’s independence day.
“There’s just a lack of education that results in misinformed racist celebrations,” Will Hardwick, a native Oklahoman, said.
Hardwick said the holiday itself does not feed into stereotypes.
“But many tend to associate it with Mexican stereotypes such as eating tacos, drinking beer and appropriating Mexican culture,” he said.
Nothing is wrong with having a good time and showing love to another culture.
Though many people might have the right intentions going into it, they might be perpetuating stereotypes that can be harmful and insensitive to Latinos and Mexicans during their celebrations.
That doesn’t mean that the holiday cannot be celebrated, but such celebrations should be done with inclusiveness and mindfulness.
Cinco De Mayo does have its benefits of course, such as celebrating the independence of Puebla, while also providing a platform to speak and raise issues going within the Latino and Mexican community.
For example, when done correctly and thoughtfully, Cinco De Mayo can be used to explore social issues, the culture of the people, the ongoing efforts of freedom and identity for the younger generation.
The next time you’re out celebrating Cinco De Mayo, make sure to keep an open mind and be courteous of the celebrations you are participating in. Embrace the culture, but breaking down barriers should be the focal point of Cinco De Mayo.