When I read this MSNBC.com 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 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.
I was so frustrated I wanted to scream. For three weeks I had been trying to get a visa to visit Nigeria and for three weeks they had been stone walling me. You see they wanted an actual copy of my bank account records. Now anyone who’s ever used the Internet knows that Nigeria is a hotbed for financial fraudsters. How many of you have gotten that e-mail asking for you to send them your bank account number so you could receive millions of dollars. President Clinton’s daughter’s future father-in-law even fell for it. In Nigeria they call it “419.” A 419 is a scam.
I wasn’t about to be 419’d by the Nigerian Embassy in New York. So I called them up and relayed my reservations about providing a copy of my bank statement to them. You know what he said to me? “Well, ma’am,” he said, “That’s what is required to visit our country. No bank statement, no visa.” And that was it. Around the world every country has certain expectations that visitors who come to their country will abide by certain rules, no matter how inconvenient they may be. So when I heard the uproar over Arizona’s new immigration law I smiled. I could only image that the opponents to the provision of the law that states police have the right to ask for people’s lawful identification have never traveled to Nigeria.
Global Travelers Always Have Their Papers
In the last six years I’ve traveled to five continents and more than 30 cities and believe you me I had my papers on me at all times. And it didn’t matter when I went to Africa; just because my skin was the same color didn’t make me a citizen. I was especially singled out when I flew to northern Nigeria. A Muslim enclave in Africa’s most populous country, northern Nigeria is a place where strangers are quickly pointed out. There is no blending in. As soon as I got off the airplane my western dress, language and broad smile gave me away. I remember walking through the airport to look for a taxi driver and being stopped by two armed military guards. They lead me to a small room just outside the airport security area where they demanded to see my papers. After painstakingly writing down everything there was to know from my passport they preceded to ask me where I was staying, why I was visiting and who was I there to see. They told me that it was for my own protection – just in case a riot happened in the middle of the night and they needed to make sure the American tourist was O.K. But the whole ordeal didn’t phase me one bit. After traveling around the world I am pretty use to showing my papers whenever I go somewhere else.
American Citizens Are Free Until They Travel Abroad
People in America disdain racial profiling because of its ugly history in this racially divided country. The alarmists remember the days when being black was the only criteria used to arrest, convict and punish people for crimes. There was a time in this country where acting as a free black man could get you killed. So it’s understandable that when someone starts talking about arresting and jailing people because of the color of their skin or their country of origin people get a little edgy. We do not want to return to the days of Jim Crow and people hanging from trees because of their skin color. But around the world racial profiling, or more exact ethnic profiling does exist. Don’t believe me? Try being an American tourist in Nigeria? Suddenly you and your driver will be paying “extra fees,” and doling out fistful of Nira to all sorts of officials – police, airport security, traffic cops. They have profiled you. They know you are America and they want their share of your independence inheritance. You can take offense and complain to the ACLU but it won’t do you any good. You are a foreigner in a foreign country and as such you need to abide by their rules. And if you think that Nigerian cop stopped your taxi cab because of routine you’re either naive or well, you know. When you travel to another country if they demand that you show them your passport, papers, even bank statements you must comply or put simply don’t go.
America’s Immigration Duality
On the surface requiring foreigners to carry papers with them at all times is not an outrageous request. But like everything in America there is a parallel universe. There is the rhetoric we espouse as a country and their is the reality we display. The Constitution promised freedom to all men save the 3/5th man that was a black person. You know the drill. So we say we want to protect our borders against illegal immigrants who are criminals yet we allow Marta and Mario to clean our houses, do our lawns and wash dishes in our restaurants and we of course never ask for their papers. The federal government has refused to address the problem of Mexico supporting its economy by sending its citizens to work in our country. They won’t do anything about illegal immigration so Arizona has forced its hand. I believe the law in Arizona is a little mean-spirited and fueled by some baseless fear. But I understand that fear because I’ve been in an area where foreigners pose a fatal threat. Until the feds act on immigration we’ll get more laws like Arizona. And until then, I’ll keep my passport on me.