Taking Back Cinco de Mayo
By Roberto Rodriguez (Dr. Cintli)
The weekend is coming up and you are looking forward to Cinco de Mayo, but this year, knowing that this is when many people denigrate Mexican people, you are determined not to insult Mexican people. What to do? Here’s a simple guide:
#1: Do not attempt to dress up or speak like a Mexican.
#2: Do not confuse this day with September 16 or Mexican Independence day. That day celebrates independence from a tyrannical Spain.
#3: Do not associate liquor/alcohol with this date and do not call it “Drinko de Mayo.”
#4: Do not refer to Mexicans in a derogatory manner.
#5: Do not refer to Mexicans as Spanish people (Spanish people come from Spain), and also, do not come to think that everyone that speaks Spanish is Mexican.
#6: Do not ever refer to Mexican food as “Hispanic” food; virtually all the food labeled as such is Indigenous to this continent, not from Europe.
#7: Do not put on or attend a Mexican-themed party for Cinco de Mayo, if it involves the above.
Ok… but now, you still want to honor Mexicans. This gets tricky. Read #1-7 again, but if you insist, here are some suggestions:
#1: Vow to yourself that you will hereafter see and treat everyone, especially migrants, as full human beings, with corresponding full human rights.
#2: Support immigration reform legislation only if it treats migrants as full human beings, with corresponding full human rights.
#3: Support the DREAM movement, in particular, Scholarship A-Z. This group gives out scholarships to DREAM students, that is, students who were brought to this country without proper documentation as infants or children, and who currently have a difficult time going to college due to exorbitant tuition. To do so, go to: http://www.scholarshipsaz.org/wp/
#4: Read El Cinco de Mayo: An American Tradition, by UCLA Professor, David Hayes Bautista (University of California Press). Here, you will learn why this day is honored and celebrated by Mexican Americans.
#5: Support the right to teach Ethnic Studies in K-12 schools, everywhere, but especially here in Arizona.
#6: Treat others, the way you would like to be treated. In the Maya language, this is known as: In Lak Ech- Tue res mi otro yo-You are my other me. It is a concept found in all cultures.
#7: And finally, support or take part in the 2nd annual Cinco de Mayo 5K Sobriety Run/Walk on May 2 at the Valenzuela Center this year in Tucson, led by Calpolli Teoxicalli (Teoxicalli@yahoo.com). The run/walk are being held in protest of the hijacking of Cinco de Mayo by the liquor and alcohol industries and to raise awareness of the high rates of alcoholism in these communities. For more information on this run, being sponsored by the Mexican American Studies Department at the University of Arizona, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, you now have the option to do something different on Cinco de Mayo… and yes, dishonoring should never occur at anytime of the year, and the honoring of Mexican peoples and Mexican American culture should not be relegated to a once-a-year event.
Rodriguez, an assistant professor in Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: XColumn@gmail.com
* See you Sat morning 8a.m. at the valenzuela center in south tucson.