For many Americans, Cinco de
Mayo is just an excuse to drink tequila and act a fool. ! This is a quick overview of the American connection to Cinco de Mayo, and how the holiday is just one example of Mexican stereotypes perpetuated in the US.
Mexico celebrates its independence on
September 15 & 16th. It is a celebration of the moment when Mexicans rallied against Spanish rule in 1810. And is by far Mexico’s most celebrated holiday. Source: Wikipedia
The victory at Puebla was
so profound that during the American Civil War, the US military commemorated the victory with cultural events, such as bullfights, to rally nationalistic passion among Mexican-Americans fighting in the war. Source: History Channel
After the war, May 5th
celebrations continued in the US; but it was half- hearted until the 1960s, when the Chicano Movement used the holiday to rally Mexican-Americans once again. Source: Time Magazine
In the 1980s, US alcohol
companies realized they could use the holiday for their own purposes... Source: Alcohol Professor
“Thus was born a day
of drinking tequila while wearing a stereotypical sombrero.” -Time Magazine Source: Time Magazine
Today, Cinco de Mayo is
celebrated more in the US than in Mexico; and many Mexicans have come to resent the holiday as a result of its warped appropriation of Mexican culture. Source: History Channel
But, Cinco de Mayo is
only one example of how stereotypes are appropriating our understanding of Mexican people.
In 2007, 60% of all
major news covering Mexico was negative; rising to 80% by 2010. Source: Bloomberg
And most Americans feel that
Mexico is not a good neighbor (86%), unsafe for travel (72%), a problem for the US (59%). Source: National Journal
However, 50% of the country
is under 29 years old, 78% live in urban areas, and Mexico City (22M) is one of the largest cities in the world. Source: New York Times! Source: World Population Review
And while the drug war
isn’t over by any means, Mexico is working to decrease the crime rate, and to make significant economic improvements.
In the past several years
immigration to the US has decreased significantly, and in 2012 Mexico’s GDP growth (3.8%) was stronger than the US’s (2.2%). Source: Bloomberg
Despite the drug war, the
country is thriving economically. It is classified as a majority middle class society, and the world’s 14th largest economy. Source: National Journal! Source: Bloomberg
Average income has doubled in
the past 15 years; 1/4 of the country’s homes were built within the past 20 years; and the average number of school years Mexicans attend has doubled in the past four decades. Source: Bloomberg
And with more international trade
agreements than any other country in the world (44), Mexico is poised to continue strengthening their economy. Source: New York Times
So as Mexico continues to
shift towards a more vibrant future, lets shift our sentiment towards positively supporting their effort.
Starting with Cinco de Mayo,
lets confront outdated / misrepresentative stereotypes, by celebrating with an accurate understanding of the country’s history, and respect for the improvements being made.
I’ll leave you with these
final thoughts from our Congress: ! The battle of Puebla was but one of the many battles that the courageous Mexican people won in their long and brave struggle for independence and freedom. ! ... [we call] upon the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate ceremonies and activities. ! Cinco de Mayo serves as a reminder that the foundation of the United States is built by people from many nations and diverse cultures who are willing to fight and die for freedom. ” “ Source: Congressional Record