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5 Things We Can Do to Reclaim Cinco de Mayo

It’s pretty much official. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become the Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day.

Multinational corporations like Budweiser and Kraft have effectively turned it into a pseudo-ethnic holiday used as another excuse to get drunk and consume. La Batalla de Puebla is hardly mentioned, including by many Mexicans.

Still fresh in our community’s collective memory, however, is a time before corporations even seemed to care about Mexicans and our traditions, and when Cinco de Mayo was a day of community and cultural affirmation. Kids would dress up as china poblanas and charros, folklórico and Danza Azteca groups would perform, grills would be ablaze, and maybe a parade and car show would entertain families on this day.

Of course, these traditions are still very much alive and being observed every year in our communities — as the photo above from West St. Paul’s Cinco de Mayo event shows. The big difference is that today there are entire events posing as Cinco de Mayo festivals that are actually corporate festivals held to promote products and brands.

Can we take back from multinationals something that has belonged to us for decades?

Can we reclaim Cinco de Mayo as a day that celebrates Mexico’s heroic victory for democracy and freedom over French imperialism in the Batalla de Puebla?

Of course we can!

Here are 5 things we can do to make it happen:

1. Support events hosted by and for the benefit of local non-profits and community-based organizations.

2. Don’t go to corporate Cinco de Mayo events. No matter how much free shit they give away.

3. Remind white people Cinco de Mayo celebrates the killing of white people!

4. Know the history of Cinco de Mayo and La Batalla de Puebla.

5. Promote Mexico making Cinco de Mayo a national holiday, removing the silly claim that it’s only celebrated in the US.

Photo: A dancer marches in the Cinco de Mayo parade Saturday, May 4, 2013 in St. Paul, Minnesota. Credit: MPR, Nikki Tundel.

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