Americans, Take Off That Sombrero

By Marissa Luna

¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo, or as it’s called in Mexico, El Día de la Batalla de Puebla! Today, we commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862 – a sort of David-beats-Goliath battle. Cinco de Mayo is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually on September 16th and is much more widely celebrated in Mexico than Cinco de Mayo, which is primarily observed in Puebla. Cinco de Mayo is also a day for Mexican Americans to celebrate our culture and ethnicity, which is, for the most part, undervalued in America.

Today is a day to celebrate and appreciate the beauty of Mexican culture, not to misrepresent it. Our culture is not for your appropriation. Our culture is not an excuse for you to get drunk off margaritas and Coronas and eat tacos while wearing a sombrero and/or a poncho. Our culture is not for you to create ignorant hashtags like #CincoDeDrinko on Twitter. Our culture is not for major food chains like Taco Bell to capitalize on by offering free biscuit tacos as if that even comes close to being traditional Mexican cuisine.

So, put down the sombrero, refrain from retweeting that picture of mayo in a sink, and instead take some time to truly appreciate and respect our culture. Go to the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts, read a book on the history of the Mexican-American people, go to an immigration reform rally.

American culture itself might be the epitome of cultural appropriation, but that doesn’t mean that you have to continue to engage in this exploitative practice.