"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"
You really can't fault anyone for what they say in grade school. When you're 8 – 13, you're expected to say stupid things. It's almost a requirement. So I couldn't get mad in the third grade when someone asked if I threw a Cinco de Mayo party every year. I didn't even get mad when I was asked the same in high school. Admittedly, I thought it was a dumb question but I didn't get mad, you know?
Instead, I gave the same response I gave in the third grade: "Cinco de Mayo's not a thing for us." I have the same attitude towards Hispanic Heritage Month as I do Cinco de Mayo.
If you ask me to go to a Cinco de Mayo party, I'll go. Yes, I'll be the buzzkill at the party explaining to you that May 5 is, in fact, not Mexico's Independence Day but the day of a Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, but I'll go. Who would turn down a party, right?
Because let's be honest: these holidays aren't meant for Hispanics or Latinos. Yeah, this next month is supposed to be a celebration of Hispanic contributions to this country, but it's not for... us.
I never liked Cinco de Mayo because I thought it was just an excuse for Americans to party. It's a cynical view, but it's accurate. And it's a common habit in this country. We like to take holidays and celebrations of other cultures not our own and turn them into all-day parties. And it's a bit difficult to honor and celebrate those cultures when you're drunk. And I get that I'm looking at this from such a cynical view, but it's odd to see something labeled "Hispanic Heritage Month" and not being a part of it.
We have Hispanic Heritage Month every single year, but every single year something new happens or something gets worse in America's treatment of Hispanics and Latinos.
It's clear that these cultural holidays aren't in place to educate or to celebrate. They exist so no one can complain that there isn't something in place to celebrate Hispanics. But Hispanic Heritage Month has nothing to do with Hispanics.
Don't get me wrong, I am fiercely proud to be Hispanic and Latina. I feel incredibly lucky to have the identity I do. That's why I actually want to see those beautiful identities celebrated in this country. I want people to truly recognize the contributions Hispanics have made to this country. I want people to appreciate us and not appropriate us for an excuse to drink all day.