Cinco de Mayo is about to start, so let's make some things clear:
Hello there! Diego here! (That… that’s seriously my name.) As some of you may know, I am of Mexican origin, and I would like to make a few things clear about May 5th you may or may not be aware about.
1. Cinco de Mayo is NOT the date of the Independence of Mexico.
That’s right! Mexico celebrates its independence in September 16th, or more likely, the night of September 15th, when traditionally they make the traditional Grito de Independencia by midnight, which is a reenactment of the legend of the night revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called mass in 1810 for the people to rebel against the Spanish government.
“Cinco de Mayo” also known as “La Batalla de Puebla” (The Battle of Puebla) is a commemoration of a victory in the battle against French invaders that arrived from the port of the state of Veracruz. Albeit not a strategically decisive battle on the war, it is important on national pride as a moment in which a tiny new country without virtually any funds by the time of 1860s defeated such a super powerful army which were the French.
Just to put it straight: Sombrero just means “hat” in Spanish; at least Mexican Spanish. We tend to call sombrero to any kind of hat, that is if we are not using the word “gorro/gorra” alternatively.
The “sombreros” you usually see in every single stereotype you may imagine are based a mixture of the charro outfit and the way poor proletariats would dress around the dawn of the 20th century whom also were an emblem of the Mexican Revolution of 1910. (Another national celebration that goes in November 20th.) Slavery was already illegal in Mexico, but these people were exploited in a disguised system in which the workers were paid (miserably) and all of their expenses would be controlled in stores they were only allowed to spend at; those stores were also owned by the proprietors of the land they worked at.
The stereotype has been so reflected in so many places inside and outside the border it has even been reclaimed by the Mexican people themselves.
“Oh, so is it okay for me to wear one?”
By the way when I mentioned “charros”, I mean a traditional type of horsemen that follow their own set of etiquettes and styles, and it’s also practiced by women who are not only beautiful but also super badass.
I SERIOUSLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH MEXICAN STEREOTYPES AND MARACAS TO BE HONEST.
LIKE, THEY ARE USED IN A FEW CULTURES OF MEXICO SUCH AS THE YAQUIS, BUT OTHER THAN THAT IT REALLY DOESN’T HAVE MUCH OF A CULTURAL BACKGROUND FOR MEXICO. ALMOST ANY OTHER COUNTRY IN LATIN AMERICA, BUT NOT MUCH IN MEXICO.
THEY ARE MORE OF A BRAZILIAN THING.EDIT: Actually no, they are not Brazlian at all either.
Much like the sombrero, if you “went to Mexico” (Tijuana, Cancún, Mazatlán, Rocky Point) and they gave you maracas with vivid colors on them, there is absolutely no cultural importance behind it as souvenir of Mexico. Mexicans love to point at, laugh, and exploit the cultural obliviousness of tourists. Especially American tourists.
4. The mustache.
This one is a bit strange, albeit kind of true in some regards.
The mustache is an international symbol of masculinity, and Mexico is a country full of machismo, albeit “caballerosidad” is also one of the qualities in the Mexican etiquette which involves respecting the autonomy and individual identity of women, always approach to a non-violent solution, and a general attitude of politeness to both men and women; that said it is not impossible for a Mexican to be misogynistic as well.
ANYWAY, the mustache is kind of a downhill-snowball stereotype that may have started in just seeing many Mexicans having a mustache, but so do a LOT of American males as well, so uhhhh… it’s a very strange label to pin on Mexicans over all.
I actually don’t mind if you drink tequila. You kinda support the economy of my country and it’s an actual cultural thing that I like it when it’s spread around.
Just remember that it is NOT drunk with a worm in it. That is mezcal. Its like tequila’s wilder cousin. And no, it has no mescaline.
6. Other stereotypes.
- Sugar skulls are a cool thing, I guess. No, they have absolutely nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo, they are part of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is celebrated in November 1st.
- “Do not drink the water” is a weird stereotype I have heard. I would not simply recommend you to drink untreated tap water anywhere. Period. We have water purifiers everywhere.
- Mexico is what I call a “second world country”. It is not as developed and advanced as the United States, but it IS civilized in a great way we count with continuous technological developments and lots and lots of progressist enthusiasts.
- Mexico is not proud of drug trafficking. It’s an extremely serious problem that has the entire country terrorized and I am really exhausted of all the attention they get from dumb Hollywood movies rather than the real Mexico. Do not talk about drugs. Do not talk about narcos. This is a very delicate topic that many people overlook the impact it’s had with Mexican people in their identity. Please.
- I persist. Do not, seriously, DO NOT associate Mexican people with drug dealers, drug lords, “narcos”, or any other extension. If you seriously STILL wonder “what the big deal is”, I dare you to Google “narcos” on the image search and look at all the horrible things they do to the innocents. (It’s seriously fucked up and triggering with blood, gore, body horror shit.)
- Mexican people have contributed with some groundbreaking contributions to science and technology and the way we are leading our lives.
> Mario J. Molina is a chemist who discovered the causes of ozone depletion in the atmosphere.
> Guillermo González Camarena patented the first trichromatic TV color transmitter in 1940. 8 years before Peter Carl Goldmark presented it to CBS and took most of the credit.
> Luis Ernesto Miramontes co-developed “the pill”. Props.
> Andrés Manuel del Río discovered vanadium in 1801 which is used to strengthen steel further and is applied from bicycles and hardware tools, to dental implants and jet engines.
- Yes, Mexicans are actually laid back. No, they are not inherently lazy.
- Mexican people are culturally masters of improvisation and creativity, this leads them to engineer creative solutions to everyday problems. Just felt like sharing this fact.
Ok so this is all I have right off the bat, and I wish you a happy Cinco de Mayo. Have fun, get drunk, party on; I don’t care, we don’t care. Just have these things on mind.
TL;DR: Please do not do/say anything racist.