Cinco de no-no

Kammie George, Videographer

I find it ironic that many Americans find it okay to celebrate holidays that do not relate to their culture in any way. As many of you have already figured out, today is Cinco de Mayo, one of the most widely known hispanic holidays. But what does that really mean? A common trend amongst most of the American population is to use another culture’s customs and traditions as an excuse to go out and party with their friends. Though it may seem harmless, it this cultural appropriation is problematic among the American youth. Cultural appropriation is often used in the context of a dominant race borrowing customs of a minority group in a derogatory or thoughtless fashion.

In this case, the irony is that many Americans take it upon themselves to celebrate a holiday that has absolutely nothing to do with their culture. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Puebla, Mexico as a way to remember the Mexican victory over the French army in 1862. Even in Mexico, it is not a widely celebrated holiday; it is only a big deal because it falls close to other smaller Mexican holidays, allowing a week off school and work. The largest celebration in Mexico takes place in Puebla, where the battle was fought, and the city puts on a large parade to celebrate. But the best part about this whole holiday is that the largest celebration in the world takes place in Los Angeles, California. Now, I understand that areas like Los Angeles do have a large Mexican-American population, which is mostly why it has the largest celebration in the world. But what about all of the other people who are not part of that culture and don’t understand it either?

My point is simple. Because America is so diverse and there are many cultures celebrated, people think that it is okay to celebrate as we please. I think a lot of people don’t realize that this it is insensitive to celebrate another culture’s holiday by getting drunk (especially Cinco de Mayo). It not only exploits the day for commercialization but also creates an excuse for partying and drinking for those not associated with the culture. This exploitation of Cinco de Mayo imposes stereotypes on the Mexican culture, many of which are harmful.

Maybe it’s because some Americans think that because there is a holiday being celebrated on “their soil,” they must be a part of it. These people are just rationalizing cultural appropriation. That is honestly the most absurd thing that I have ever heard — let’s not forget that “Americans” were not the first inhabitants of this continent.

It’s no secret that LBHS does not have the widest variety of cultures on campus, but this doesn’t mean that we can pretend the problem of cultural appropriation doesn’t exist. We’ve all heard a peer who isn’t African American use the n-word in a “harmless” or humorous way. Just like getting drunk on Cinco de Mayo, using culture-specific slang is ignorant and unacceptable.