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Fact and Fiction about Cinco De Mayo

When I read this story about teens getting kicked out of school for wearing American-themed garments to school Cinco de May0 I thought “Um please tell me this is a story on the Daily Show?” Oh wait it’s not.

What kind of idiotic politically-correct nation have we turned ourselves into that we suppress our envied American liberty and freedoms to appease people who come here in droves to dump on us? We will allow people to burn the flag in this country (which is fine with me it’s just a piece of cloth) but not wear the flag on a holiday mostly fueled by beer and America’s deep-seeded need to party? Cross the border and ask a Mexican what is Cinco de Mayo and your response will be um, the 5th of May?

I love partying with all my brown brothers and sisters as much as the next gal on Cinco de Mayo but what’s wrong with partying with my American flag shirt? I mean aren’t we all Americans? I grew up in Chicago and if you’ve never been to a St. Patty’s Day parade in Chicago you can’t really say you know what’s Irish. And if you haven’t sat on the curb and watched the awe and flare of the Bud Billiken Parade in Chicago then you don’t know black folk.

Sure Chicago has the biggest St. Patty’s Day parade outside of Ireland but do they shoot the miscreant who happens to show up with an American flag?  I’ve seen plenty of fights break out at the Bud Billiken parade but never over someone sporting the red, white and blue.

So the story goes that these teens, one of them Hispanic, showed up to school in California with T-shirts and bandannas sporting American flags. I”m sure these kids were being what teens tend to be sometimes – obnoxious and rebellious – but seriously it’s just a t-shirt. Still people are crying about how wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo is an affront to all the Mexicans in the United States. Well, let’s shed some historical fact on this event shall we?

In Mexico No One Cares about Cinco De Mayo

I find it mildly humorous that many of these hyphen-American holidays are based on half-truths at best and outright manufactured history at worst. When I was in my 20s I was the chair of the NAACP’s Juneteenth event in Colorado Springs.

Juneteenth is the proverbial African-American independence holiday celebrated in cities and towns all over America. It celebrates the Emancipation Proclammation which many blacks mistakenly extrapolate to mean the end of slavery in America. Not quite. Everyone who knows history knows that Lincoln only freed slaves who lived in the most rancorous of the southern states to punish them during the war. Slavery wasn’t abolished until the 13th Amendment passed two years later, but why stop the party?

Cinco de Mayo celebration from Wikipedia

Cinco De Mayo suffers from the same historical misunderstanding. Many gringos (Latinos and others alike) think Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s independence day. Cue Alex Trebec: Not quite. (Two points for anyone who knows the actually Mexico Independence Date.) Cinco de Mayo It is actually the date of a minor battle in Mexico where 4,000 Mexico troops staved off a French invasion and occupation plan. You see Mexico welshed on their debt and France decided to repossess the country. They were resoundingly defeated in the Battle of Puebla. Even though Mexico scored a great victory (I don’t know how great is a victory over the French?) Cinco de Mayo faded into the historical doldrums until Mexican immigrants to California resurrected it in 1863. Since then California and now everyone else celebrates the day. But folks in Mexico could care less.

Cinco de Mayo Doesn’t Trump America Day

Immigrants – both forced and voluntary – are the backbone of this nation. But one thing that all the immigrants of before had in common that seems to be missing today is a profound love of this country. Immigrants came here in droves because they saw an opportunity to have freedom of religion, the ability to pursue happiness and cool opportunity to get drunk at Fridays! Well, maybe not the Fridays part but you get my drift. When I meet Jewish, Irish, Italian, African and other immigrants they proudly talk of their culture and tradition but they cry when they think about all the wonderful opportunities this country has afforded them. They do not trump their heritage for the privilege of being in this country. And those that do leave. I’ve traveled all over the world and let me tell you I am glad when I can lay my head down on my bed in the good ‘ole U S of A. Sure America has its problems but loving its people is not one of them. We have a good thing going here and we should NEVER be penalize for sharing our joy and love of this country NO MATTER what manufactured holiday it is.

Cinco De Mayo Shouldn’t Divide US

As a person who has engineered one of these ethnic-focused holidays I can honestly say the event was built as a way to show America how African-Americans contributed and helped build the tapestry that is this nation. It was not meant to separate us from the other America. It was not meant to divide. So it baffles me that when it comes to a Mexican holiday that people in Mexico don’t even care about the American flag has to take a back seat. Are you kidding me? Please someone explain this to me so I can understand. Racial politics, long the stalwart of the left, have served to divide and conquer, slicing up America into an ethnic pie that only an advertiser would love. I’m a staunch supporter of civil rights but can someone tell me when that became being a hater of all that’s American? Let us not fall into the false dichotomy of us versus them. It does us no good and only keeps the politics and race hustlers rolling in dough. Be smart. Cinco de Mayo is a made in America holiday. Never let us forget that.


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