Ten people wished me a “Happy Cinco de Mayo” last Monday. That was the drop that spilled the glass. I can no longer accept this mockery of my country and of my culture, which people often think they know because they patronize Mexican restaurants, have taken a vacation in some Mexican beach, or simply because they took Spanish classes. When I see a student from an African country wearing a “Mexican” hat and mocking Mexican mariachi music, I realize that even those who are supposed to be extremely sensitive to issues of cultural difference and respect think they are entitled to make fun of my community.
As my rage surged, a friend told me that it was not mockery but ignorance that drove all these people (even those who have been in Mexico) to disrespect Mexicans. Although I agree with her, I believe that this ignorance is inherently discriminative and it should be understood within the context of the mockery with which Mexican culture is treated. I present for you a few things that are important to know:
1.Any Mexican food that includes yellow (American) cheese is not Mexican. For that matter, if you like this “American” food, you probably would not like real Mexican food. Tex-Mex food is great, I personally love it, but it is NOT Mexican.
2. Corona is considered the worst national brand of beer in Mexico. And for all of you who have bought it in your trips to Mexico, you know why they sold it to you. So why not try: Dos XX, Negra Modelo, Sol, or Victoria.
3. Mexican Independence Day is SEPTEMBER 16th. This is the greatest celebration of all times. Which brings me to the next point:
4. Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday although it is recognized in every civics book in public schools in Mexico. And in the places where it is a holiday, like my home state of Puebla, the celebration, if any, is a very small, military-style parade.
5. The “Mexican” hat is something worn by a mariachi, a musician. No other Mexican would wear it and it is highly offensive when people wear them to be funny.
Mexican culture has been made fun of through an uncaring advertising industry that is raping the fabric of my culture. It has been disrespected and misrepresented, and aspects of our culture that are very dear to us are grossly ridiculed. This is unacceptable. Please look at our rich history, culture, and heritage before trying to assume that you know everything about my country (or any country) and its culture.
To the person that stole my little boy’s red bike, I propose something to you: if you give it back, I’ll buy you some “good” Mexican beer and cook you a wonderful dinner.