Letter to the Editor: ASG, Alianza officials call for ‘respectful’ celebration of Cinco de Mayo

With El Cinco de Mayo coming up this weekend, we wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on the actual meaning of the occasion, and how that should guide the way we celebrate this Sunday.

Every year, our campus suffers from some form of culturally offensive activity that isolates many people and entire communities, which consequently affects the broader Northwestern community as well. So every year, we must write this letter to caution our friends, peers, and communities to not allow this day — or any other — to become an occasion to have fun at the expense of our peers and the cultures and traditions we should cherish.

El Cinco de Mayo is primarily celebrated in the United States, and does not commemorate Mexico’s independence from Spain. Instead, it commemorates the Battles of Puebla, in which a vastly outnumbered, under-equipped Mexican army twice defeated the well-armed, well-trained French army, which had not lost a battle in over fifty years. In Mexico, this holiday is mostly celebrated in the state of Puebla, and it is celebrated throughout the United States.

This occasion is used to celebrate cultural pride and Mexico’s rich history through parades, folk dances, and family gatherings that teach youth how to keep their traditions alive.

Unfortunately, instead of partaking in these cultural celebrations and enriching their Northwestern experiences, some of our peers choose to throw ‘Mexican-themed’ parties that are culturally insensitive, offensive, and detrimental to the Northwestern community. Drinking tequila shots, eating tacos, and wearing sombreros do not commemorate Mexican culture; on the contrary, that offends, marginalizes, and isolates many of our friends, classmates, and community members, and casts our entire community in poor light.

This weekend, please join us in honoring the tradition of El Cinco de Mayo with appropriate, tasteful and respectful celebration.

Ani Ajith, ASG President
Alex Van Atta, ASG Executive Vice President
Sobeida Peralta, Alianza President, 2013-2014
Darlene Reyes, Alianza President, 2013-2014
Lucía León, Alianza President, 2012-2013
Carlos Martinez, Alianza President, 2012-2013