Most people are shocked when I disclose my ethnicity, most assume I’m white, when in reality I’m half Mexican and I identify as Hispanic, even though my mother insists that I refer to myself as ‘American of Latin descent’. Then, I get to play a game called, “prove your ethnic background” because I don’t “look” Mexican. I am what you would call “White passing” and I also don’t speak Spanish despite my mother being fluent. My Hispanic ancestry is not distant: my maternal grandmother, who was born a U.S. citizen but grew up in the Mexican state of Jalisco, is mestizo (Spanish and indigenous peoples) and my late Castilian-blooded grandfather hailed directly from Mexico City but immigrated to the United States back in the early 1950s.
So, why do I have such a beef with Cinco de Mayo? Well, part of it is due to the fact that most Americans are completely ignorant and think it’s Mexico’s Fourth of July. A quick Google search reveals that Cinco de Mayo is historically and culturally significant because of the Battle of Puebla. In 1865, the Mexican Army successfully beat the French Empire because Napoleon III thought forcing Mexico into a foreign policy commitment for “free trade” by trying to take it over and exploiting their resources for France’s own gain was a great idea.
Mexico’s real Independence Day is on September 16th, which shows how misinformed some Americans can be when it comes to holidays that are not our own. However, there are a few individuals who think that the Fourth of July was the day we ‘won’ the American Revolution and they probably flunked their American history class.
Our current president, Donald Trump, has been vocal about his views of Mexico and its people: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” said Trump during he announced his bid in the presidential race in 2015 . Some? Mexicans are hard working people with a rich culture and a deep rooted devotion to family. They take jobs that most Caucasian individuals would never take.
Cinco de Mayo has gone the way of Saint Patrick’s Day here in the U.S. The holiday is now a day where frat guys wear sombreros and throwing up tequila in someone’s front yard. It is a day where white people are ‘cool’ with Mexico and gorge themselves on tacos at a gringo Mexican restaurant, or God forbid, ‘Chipotle’.
The problem I have with the Americanized ‘celebration’ of Cinco de Mayo is that it stems from stereotypes that American media associates with Mexico. For example, mariachi music, sombreros, tequila, the “Mexican Hat Dance” and serapes actually originate from only one of Mexico’s 31 states (32 if you include the Federal District, which is the state of Jalisco where my maternal grandmother grew up). It’s like associating Lederhosen with Germany as a whole. Lederhosen are part of the Bavarian tradition in Southern Germany, or that all Americans wear cowboy hats and have a Texan accent.
I also have an issue with people who verbally state that they hate Hispanic immigrants and that they should go back to their own country. Because the United States is a country made up of immigrants and if we are going to force Mexicans to go back to their country, we should relinquish the U.S. to the native Americans have their continent back and go back to wherever we originated. Our current president said that Mexicans were drug dealing criminal rapists, well, I am going to reference a little thing called history. Americans raped, murdered and forced countless numbers of native Americans off their land, enslaved human beings to work their plantations and then had a war about it. In addition, some individuals won’t get over the fact that the South lost and were traitors to the United States, or when the U.S. annexed Hawaii, which was a recognized Sovereign nation by the rest of the world, for their own material gain. However, if you want to ignore historical facts and want to be an ignorant moron, go ahead, but your attitude is why the rest of the world can’t take Americans seriously. Mexico is far from perfect and does have the drug cartels, socioeconomic inequality, and corruption. But, basically calling a majority of Mexican immigrants drug dealing rapists is absolutely disgusting and disgraceful. I don’t see white people champing at the bit to go work the fields.
Most Mexican immigrants want to work to provide for their families, but are called lazy by some misinformed individuals. We are a proud and passionate people who come in all shapes, shades and sizes. Please stop trying to appropriate Mexican culture if you don’t want Mexican immigrants here. Don’t eat our delicious food, mow your own lawns, and don’t ‘celebrate’ Cinco de Mayo. You have a drinking problem and are using every excuse to get wasted and look stupid while wearing a sombrero and I hope La Llorona comes after you for being culturally insensitive.