SMC's Cinco de Mayo Event Celebrates Latinx Culture, Distances Itself from Party Connotations
Flags from a host of Latin American nations waved from lanyards in the clock tower quad on the morning of May 3, as students and faculty advisors from the Adelante club made last-minute preparations for their annual Cinco de Mayo event.
The event, which was almost entirely organized by student members of Adelante club, focused on Latin American culture and included dancers from the group Mi Bella Guatemala, an informational table where students could learn more about the cultures of Mexico and other Latin American countries, and a food booth serving burritos and tamales from Northgate Market and Casablanca Restaurant.
The event kicked off with Sociology Professor Dr. Rebecca Romo delivering a speech on the background of Cinco de Mayo. Romo said, "When I was first asked, I hesitated [to speak at the event] - because a lot Mexicans in Mexico don't celebrate Cinco de Mayo; and also, many Mexicans in the United States also don't celebrate it, and many of us don't even know what it is."
Romo went on to explain that Cinco de Mayo was not Mexican Independence Day, which takes place on September 16th, but rather the celebration of a victorious battle (the Battle of Puebla) against a French invasion of Mexico in 1862.
Dr. Romo also touched on one of the salient themes of Adelante's event: the reclamation of Cinco de Mayo as a cultural, rather than "party" holiday. "How can we make Cinco de Mayo our own, outside of the fact that is has been co-opted by American beer corporations who have culturally appropriated the celebration as an excuse for them to sell more beer," Romo said. "Cinco de Mayo should be a time to remember the spirit of resistance, not just for Mexican people, but for Latinx and oppressed people around the world."
That idea of reclaiming the holiday permeated the festivities. When asked about the "Americanized" version of Cinco de Mayo, which is largely considered a party holiday and an excuse to drink, Adelante Member and I.C.C. Communications Officer Maritza Lopez said, "What I do, instead of getting mad, [I] educate them, because what else can you do? They're technically appropriating the culture, so the best thing to do is just sit down with them, and explain the purpose [of the holiday.]"
Some planners of the event took a more positive view of American celebration of Cinco de Mayo. One of the main organizers of the event, Adelante volunteer coordinator, and SMC student Carlos Rouzaud, shared his opinion on the "Americanized" version of the holiday.
"We don't take it personal, I personally [am] just happy that the United States celebrates a holiday that comes from Mexico, I don't think it's a problem that people [are] drinking and that kind of stuff," Rouzad said. "At least we share something together; whatever the reason, we're all passionate about this holiday."