If you don’t love me at my September 16, you don’t deserve me at my Cinco de Mayo

Daisy Ortiz,
Managing and Spanish Editor

It’s that time of the year again, when stores bring out their Mexican decor to set up displays that entice people to buy alcohol, snacks and decorations for the grand celebration of Cinco de Mayo. This day is commonly known as “Cinco de Drinko” because apparently that’s all Mexicans do at celebrations: drink. It’s also highly mistaken for Mexico’s independence day which if you haven’t heard that’s actually Sept. 16.

Cinco de Mayo actually celebrates the Battle of Puebla in which a small Mexican army defeated a larger French army preventing them from invading Puebla — now a large Mexican city. Although it was a big win for Mexico, outside of the states of Puebla and Veracruz, the country does not observe it as a holiday. Puebla hosts parades in which people reenact the battle and learn about the history.

In the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has become a day for bar specials and a perfect example of U.S. consumerism with businesses selling supplies for “just another themed party.” I can’t speak for everyone, but as a Mexican American that truly loves her culture which includes: its people, the language, music, history, art and so much more, I find some of the things people do and say quite offensive.

In June 2017, six months after Donald Trump took office, Univision had received over 200 reports of hate incidents their viewers had endured. Some of the things reported were incidents of people being told, “build that wall,” “go back to your country,” “speak English, this is America.”

According to a Pew Research in 2012, 33.7 million Hispanics of Mexican-origin lived in the United States, 22.3 million of those born in the United States. That’s 22.3 million citizens that have to continuously hear the racist comments from people that speak before they think and don’t realize we have the exact same rights as any other citizen. We are not any less than them. That’s 33.7 million people that are hurt and discriminated against simply for the way they speak, dress or look.

Seeing people celebrate this day makes me question why people can’t celebrate us the other 364 days of the year. Some people are okay with bashing our music, language, style of dress every other day of the year — but when it comes to the fifth of May, they love to listen to mariachi, drink some coronas and call us “amigos.”

There’s no problem with appreciating a culture and wanting to celebrate, we are a culture that loves having a good time, but here’s the thing. You’re actually not celebrating us. You’re making fun of the stereotypes that have been put on us throughout history. You’re wearing the serape, fake mustache and being obnoxious drunks. That’s not what we are, we are a lot more than that. Educators, doctors, engineers, farm workers, students and dreamers.

So go ahead and celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but with respect to everyone before and after me. I do it as a way of reminding myself that even when Mexicans can be looked at as small, insignificant and weak we have the resiliency to overcome even the biggest of obstacles.