This isn't a meant to be a cute post or a funny post, but more something that will get people thinking and hopefully talking about something that I find pretty important.
Maybe you read the title of the post and thought, "Ooohhh Margaritas! Chips and Guac (can I just say I hate it when people call it Guac??)! Big goofy sombreros! Fake mustaches!"
For me, when I think of Cinco de Mayo, I think of race. I think of people mocking an ethnicity. My ethnicity. As many of you know, my grandfather is from Mexico and I have a lot of family that still lives there.
They don't wear sombreros. They don't wear serapes. They don't dance around and scream in a really high pitched voice. Most of them don't even have facial hair, let alone thick black moustaches. And they don't really drink Coronas either.
|See, no serapes.|
|No sombreros either.|
Yet many Americans think it's fun to spend the 5th of May doing all the things I just mentioned and "pretending" to be Mexican.
What if I decided that on Rosh Hashanah every year, I would wear a yamulke and dance around singing the dreidel song, pretending to be Jewish? What if LoLo decided that every 4th of July, he would dress up as a redneck and pretend to be American? Would you find that offensive?
See, the problem I have with celebrating Cinco de Mayo by getting wasted off tequila and/or Coronas and wearing a big sombrero and a fake mustache is that when you do this, you turn an entire ethnicity into a caricature. You perpetuate stereotypes and help to objectify an entire ethnicity. When an ethnicity is turned into an object instead of treating each person as an individual/human, it is much easier to justify policies against them or, on a smaller scale, to justify mocking them.
Do you know why Cinco de Mayo is a significant date in Mexican history? (Please do not say it's Mexican Independence Day.) Cinco de Mayo celebrates the unlikely Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. This was a turning point in Mexican history that had basically nothing to do with Americans or drinking.
I'm sorry if this blog post sounded preachy...actually, you know what? I'm not sorry at all. I hope you will think more carefully about how you will spend the 5th of May. I think it's important that we feel open talking about race because that's the only way things will change in this country. Hiding behind fake mustaches and bottles of tequila will get us nowhere.