Celebrating the Cinco
I have always thought that celebrating Cinco de Mayo goes beyond a marketplace holiday that promotes tequila drinks and wearing fake mustaches. Rather, the Cinco is a celebration and a recognition of how Mexican, Chicanx, and Mexican-American culture embeds in the life of the US of A. How it influences the general American culture providing it with richness, meaning, and depth. In other words, how it contributes to what is often called the melting pot.
Mexican culture, and Latinx culture in general, is powerful. It transforms all that it touches because it is so seductive. Strong ties and bonds with friends, devotion to pouring your soul into your work, and prioritizing the warmth of human connection are just some examples of why this way is enticing. Couple those abstract principles with some tangible expressions such as its art, food, drinks, music, and diversity of backgrounds and you get something too big to ignore.
Contrary to what many people think, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican independence. In Mexico, we celebrate this holiday in remembrance of the Batalla de Puebla, a battle where Mexican armies beat the french who were invading our country. But I believe the Mexican-American community in the US has appropriated this holiday to give it a whole new meaning. To me, that means to acknowledge that Mexican cultural influence in the USA must be recognized, respected, and treated as an essential part of its social fabric.
We have yet to keep working to ensure the respect and recognition of the Latinx ways as a unique, vital, and vibrant part of the American culture. Tomorrow we must keep working to allow others to become part of our huge familia. Tomorrow we must keep working to positively influence our communities. But today is a day to celebrate how far we’ve come. Today we celebrate all the work that amazing people before us have done to carve our very own space in the American dream. Today we remember that we have something of real value to add to that dream. Today we share with all our friends the privilege of living in it.
Throughout Latinoamerica we all eat some sort of version of beans and rice, so let's keep adding more beans and rice to that melting pot! Feliz Cinco!!
If you want to read more about this, please check out:
Hayes Bautista, D. (2012). Cinco de Mayo, an American Tradition. University of California Press.
Tlaltekatl. (2021, May 1st). Cinco de Mayo, Why we celebrate. Medium.