Letter to the Editor: Cinco de Mayo event at The Hawk was offensive

Dear Jayhawk Café, AKA The Hawk,

I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and think the reason why you thought it was appropriate to create and post such an offensively racist photo for your “Cinco de Drinko” event (as well as call the event “Cinco de Drinko”) is because you are ignorant. Let me educate you, so I can help you not be so horribly bigoted and offensive.

First, Cinco de Mayo was created to commemorate the astonishing victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862 (Some have described this battle as a “David and Goliath” battle, if this gives you some perspective). It’s mostly celebrated in the Mexican state of Puebla, with some very limited recognition in other parts of Mexico. It’s not, as many people think, Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually September 16. Cinco de Mayo in the United States is celebrated by Mexican-Americans as a way to foster Mexican pride.

It would appear however that cultural appropriation has struck again and non-Mexican-Americans have observed this holiday, said “Oh, that looks fun!” while strapping on a sombrero, and thought that with enough tequila shots, they too might identify with a culture completely separate from their own. To be clear, cultural appropriation is different than cultural exchange. Some Americans are used to pressing their own culture onto others, taking what they want in return and using someone else’s cultural symbols to satisfy a personal need for self-expression. This is not a mutual exchange. This is appropriating the parts of my culture you like while leaving the rest. (Got privilege?)

Now that I have informed you what Cinco de Mayo commemorates, who celebrates it (or rather, who should be celebrating it), and what cultural appropriation is, I feel I can begin to dissect how horribly racist and offensive The Hawk’s event and photo are toward Mexicans and Mexican-Americans.

Hawk Facebook photo artist, did you Google “drunk Mexican”? How you thought this photo would be better with a photoshopped sombrero is beyond me, but to go even further by giving your event the title of “Cinco de Drinko” is just undermining/degrading/belittling/etc. the holiday i.e. undermining/degrading/belittling/etc. Mexican culture.

America has commercialized Cinco de Mayo and made it a holiday in which drinking unreasonable amounts of booze is acceptable. This deeply saddens me because there is so much more to Mexican culture, which I think Mexicans and Mexican-Americans would gladly exchange with other Americans. What The Hawk’s photo/event says to me is the same message I receive when I walk by any Hispanic/Latino restaurant on May 5th – the majority of Americans have no interest in learning about Mexican culture and couldn’t care less, unless we’re taking “their” jobs, making above minimum wage or want to live in the United States. If any of these occur, then all sombreros off bro.

My advice? Next time you create a Facebook event, ask at least three other people if they think it could be offensive. I feel like this might save both you and I time.

  • Updated May. 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm
  • Woody Pfister

    In 1862, the French invaded Mexico because the Mexicans stopped paying their debts. After the skirmish on The fifth of May, the French went on to capture and occupy Mexico City. more than a 100 years later, Grupo Modelo promoted its Corona Beer in the U.S. by holding Cinco de Mayo, events at college towns around the country.

    Since Cinco de Mayo is NOT even celebrated in Mexico, I suggest we just drink American beers and avoid the flatulence brought on by bad Mexican food.

  • HauteJuju

    I don’t want to see any Anglos or Hispanics at any St. Paddy’s celebrations next year, bejesus!