Veronica Fernandez-Alvarado planned for Friday, May 5 to be a normal night out with her friends to relax after a long week. She changed her mind after she realized it was Cinco de Mayo, and decided to stay home in order to avoid the cultural insensitivity.
“It’s just so insulting to go out and see a whole bunch of white people wearing sombreros and mustaches,” she said.
Today, on Cinco de Mayo, a holiday that is often confused with Mexico’s independence day, UO Latinx groups are urging students to remain respectful and culturally aware on the Mexican holiday.
At a party titled “Cinco de Drinko” at Baylor University last week, students arrived dressed as maids, construction workers and in brownface. The partygoers received backlash for being overtly racist after photos spread around Twitter and Facebook.
— CNN (@CNN) May 4, 2017
Fernandez-Alvarado, the gender, identity and sexuality director of UO Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán, or MEChA, was quick to admonish the Americanised customs that have developed around Cinco de Mayo celebrations over the years.
“I know there’s mass group of brown people who aren’t even Mexican that just don’t even go out that night, or for most of the day,” she said over the murmur of music coming from the UO MEChA’s zine release party next door.
“It’s also a prime time for a lot of hate crimes and really terrible harassment,” she said, “so a lot of us just don’t leave our house.”
Despite the internet backlash that Baylor’s Cinco de Mayo party received, Fernandez-Alvarado said people will continue festivities and continue with insensitive celebration.
“I know people are going to celebrate it either way and if they are, then I really hope they do it in a respectful manner that’s good for my people.”
“Costumes — no go…” said Fernandez-Alvarado. “Particularly the little things.”
She explained that while Cinco de Mayo is a top holiday for people to go to bars and parties in brownface, sombreros, mustaches, and any other costume pieces should be avoided completely.
Fernandez-Alvarado urges supporting authentic Mexican businesses as an alternative way to celebrate.
Tonight, UO MEChA will be hosting 300 local high school students in an event called the Raza Unida Youth Conference. The goal of the event is to encourage local Latinx students to attend university as well as promote the message that there is a Latinx community represented in higher education.