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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Stop with the ‘Cinco de Drinko’ nonsense

Those of us of Irish heritage already have to endure the bastardized so-called holiday that is St. Patrick’s Day every March. I do not participate in the festivities, but I do watch my people be humiliated by a day filled with shameless, mindless hedonism that is ostensibly justified by wearing green and drinking green beer and other superficial celebrations of the culture.

Of course, the vast majority of St. Patrick’s Day celebrators do very little or nothing at all to learn about or respect the actual culture of Ireland, which has much less to do with alcoholism than one might assume based on what has become, unfortunately, our most famous holiday. 

Cinco de Mayo, sadly, is also being degraded and turned into a day of drinking and casual racism. We need to stop this. Proud Chicanos, in particular, should absolutely not call such a sacred day “Drinko de Mayo” and should refrain from allowing the day to become chiefly about alcohol.

In fact, I urge Chicanos and all UA students in general to refrain from drinking entirely (yes, it is possible to go an entire day, even a holiday, without imbibing alcohol) on this important holiday and to instead celebrate Mexican and Chicano culture and, of course, the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Cinco de Mayo does not, as some erroneously believe, mark Mexican Independence Day, which is the most important Mexican holiday and is celebrated September 16. However, it is, perhaps, even more important for the U.S.: Napoleon III had planned to make Mexico a vassal following his presumed victory in this battle and thus use Mexico as a base from which to support the Confederacy in the American Civil War.

The Confederacy could well have won the war had the Mexican Army not managed this heroic and unlikely victory. For that, we, as patriotic Americans, owe Mexicans and Mexican-Americans a day of celebration of their unique and beautiful culture — and, yes, of sobriety.

Heavy drinking and a lack of effort to understand the culture being celebrated (often, for instance, whilst wearing a sombrero and speaking broken Spanish) tends to produce casual racism and cultural appropriation.

If cultural appropriation is ever an important or relevant concept, it is when drunken college students don sombreros and fake moustaches and drink tequila in a spectacularly failed effort to appreciate Mexican culture. Adding an “o” after every noun is not speaking Spanish. Dressing like a stereotypical Mexican is not showing your appreciation for the culture.

Instead, make an effort to learn about the history of the day and about Mexican and Chicano culture generally. Eat Mexican food. Attend a respectful celebration with actual Mexicans and Chicanos, not a faux Mexican-themed “Drinko de Mayo” celebration. And, again, never call it that. It should go without saying, by the way, that “drinko” is not a Spanish word. Even if you cannot find a suitable celebration or do not have the time, simply refraining from drinking this May 5 is one way to do your part to help fight back against the St. Paddyization of the holiday.

The Huffington Post reports that the bastardized holidays have even been mashed together; in 2013, an Irish Pub in Sacramento hosted “O’Drinko de Mayo,” “complete with $3 margaritas, $2 tequila shots and the decidedly non-Irish staple of $2 tacos.” However, it also reports that there is a strong backlash among the entire Latino community and an increase in events that specifically bar alcohol.

An example of a better alternative to such moronic celebrations of “Drinko de Mayo” is Roberto Rodríguez’s class’s Cinco de Mayo Sobriety 5K Run. It will feature authentic, healthy Mexican food, a discussion of the history of the event, and, of course, no alcohol. The event begins at 8 a.m. at the John A. Valenzuela Youth Center on May 2 and is open to the Tucson community.

“Cinco de Mayo, for Mexican-Americans, is something sacred; it was an attempt by a foreign power to take over the country,” Rodriguez said. “The battle was victorious, and nowadays, it’s been converted into a drinking holiday, which is very insulting and degrading — especially when you consider that there are very high rates of alcoholism in our [Mexican and Chicano] communities. In effect, the beer companies have hijacked [the holiday]. … So, that’s what this run is about: to raise consciousness of issues that need to be resolved.”

Do your part by attending the Sobriety Run or one of the many similar events that are popping up around the country — or at least avoid making a fool of yourself and insulting such a beautiful culture and such an incredibly important day in our and Mexico’s history.

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Martin Forstrom is a senior studying sociology and Latin American studies. Follow him on Twitter.

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