Well I’ll admit that I still haven’t figured out why everyone celebrates Cinco de Mayo. However, being very interested in the Hispanic culture and language, I’ve noticed that many people celebrate it similar to that of St. Paddy’s day. Only people don sombreros and the occasional serape whilst drowning in Coronas and margaritas. If “Kiss Me, I’m Mexican” shirts were annually sold for the occasion, I’m sure they’d sell out in no time.
But Cinco de Mayo holds a special place in the Mexican community. Whether we love or loathe their presence in the United States, we should be extra sensitive to their traditions. With the frayed relations between the U.S. and Mexico (Trump wanting to build a wall along the Mexican border), we should show solidarity to our Mexican neighbors.
So here are a few alternative ways to celebrate El Cinco. These tidbits are courtesy of a poster I saw in the student center of my college last year:
Educate yourself – learn about the history of Cinco de Mayo and how it became a part of U.S. pop culture. Acknowledge the stereotypes you have internalized and discover why they are problematic.
Support AUTHENTIC Mexican businesses – forget Taco Bell, Don Pablos, Chipotle and other “Tex-Mex” chains. Try a family-owned restaurant run by actual Mexicans. These aren’t hard to find, especially in the larger cities. The food will be more authentic, lines and standing-room-only will be nonexistent.
Celebrate responsibly – no serapes, no fake mustache, and avoid those party stores. No “Cinco de Drinko” nor disrespectful use of Spanish. And hold your friends accountable when they do any of these.
Donate to organizations working for immigrant rights – support these organizations because they work to ensure that immigrants receive their rights to live and work in the United States. Find an organization in your community that does this, and even volunteer for them if you can.
Mexican immigrants are not here to steal American jobs. They come here because living conditions back home are so deplorable, they simply must leave in order to seek a better life. It pains many of them to leave behind their families and homeland which they have grown to love. They are willing to do the jobs most Americans wouldn’t: washing dishes, cook, clean hotel rooms, landscaping, the list goes on.
So celebrate this holiday by showing respect to your fellow “brothers and sisters” and you’ll be glad you did.