Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) celebrates a battle fought in 1862 (See Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla, Mexico) but it’s really not a big deal in Mexico.
In recent years though, it’s been getting bigger and bigger north of the border. It’s driven by, among others, beer companies, Hispanic activists and Hispandering politicians. Our previous president, Dubya the Panderer, was a great Cinco de Mayo booster.
So, it’s good to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with gusto, right? Not necessarily. As two groups of college students recently learned on both coasts of “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”, you must not offend the easily offended. And it doesn’t take too many.
Fox Latino reports that ‘Cinco De Drinko’ Party A No-Go For California College Students After Called Racially Insensitive .(Fox News Latino, May 4, 2014).
Sounds bad. What happened?
Students at the University of California, Davis, have cancelled plans for a drinking party dubbed Cinco de Drinko, after protesters called it racially insensitive. The party was to be held Saturday ahead of Monday’s Cinco de May holiday that celebrates Mexican heritage. Some students who had organized the party worked at the on-campus Coffee House where Friday’s protest took place.
The Sacramento Bee reported that about 100 students enacted a sit-in at the Coffee House, wearing red shirts and chanting slogans. They called for a boycott of the student-run cafe and cafeteria, successfully scuttling plans for the off-campus party.
So a planned party was not held because people protested?
They were prompted by a Facebook page created to promote the party. It showed a picture of four male students wearing sombreros while trying to hop a chain-link fence as two female students stand nearby smiling and wearing Border Patrol uniforms, the newspaper said.
“What kind of message are you trying to send?” student Edwin Roque said, calling the party theme offensive…
Uh oh, can’t joke about illegal immigration. But don’t worry, the Chancellor is on to this and has a solution.
UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi told the newspaper she believed that adding a mandatory diversity course could prevent future controversies like this one.
A “mandatory diversity course” – they don’t have one already? And, the students who were planning the party may get into trouble:
Adela de la Torre, vice chancellor of student affairs, said an investigation was ongoing and the university’s administration is considering internal sanctions for the students behind the party.
Meanwhile, out on the East Coast, another insufficiently-respectful Cinco De Mayo celebration was shut down. Fox News Latino reports that Cinco De Mayo Fail: Dartmouth ‘Phiesta’ Cancelled After Student Calls Event ‘Exploitative’ ( Fox News Latino , April 29, 2014).
So what happened at Dartmouth?
It was supposed to be a “Phiesta,” with virgin piña coladas, strawberry daiquiris and Mexican-themed snacks for everyone to enjoy, as stressed out students at Dartmouth College prepared to enter the final phase of the semester. But Daniela Hernandez spoke, and the sorority listened.
So one individual, Daniela Hernandez, “spoke” and the whole thing was shut down. One individual.
Hernandez, Class of 2015, said the event, planned for April 26, was “exploitative” and “inappropriate,” because it was a wink to the upcoming Cinco de Mayo celebration. It was also proof, she said, that the date is nothing more than a “drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities.”
It sounds like Daniela is not happy with how Cinco de Mayo is celebrated here.
As a result [of Daniela’s one-woman protest], the presidents of the Phi Delta Alpha fraternity and the Alpha Phi sorority at Dartmouth decided to cancel the party, which was meant to be a fundraiser for a cardiac health charity.
So no more money for the cardiac health charity?
“We felt that the possibility of offending even one member of the Dartmouth community was not worth the potential benefits of having the fundraiser,” Phi Delta Alpha President Taylor Cathcart told The Dartmouth newspaper.
Hmm, would that include members of the “Dartmouth community “ who, for example, believe we should enforce immigration law, or shut down legal immigration, or end affirmative action? Just asking.
That one person was Hernandez, who unleashed a tirade about the event. “As a Mexican-born, United-States-raised, first-generation woman of color, it was sadly unsurprising that a culturally-themed party was seen as a casual venture for such a privileged institution such as Dartmouth,” she wrote in an email to various college organizations, including the Office of Pluralism and Leadership, and Dean Charlotte Johnson.
Daniela could return to Mexico where most people don’t even celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Would that make her happier?
“There are various problematic structures and ideologies regarding a Cinco de Mayo-inspired event, and I am sure that we, as a Dartmouth community, could learn from the extensive literature written about the Americanization of Cinco de Mayo and its construction as a drinking holiday in the United States, cultural appropriation and the inappropriate usage of cultural clothing, and the exploitation of groups of people and cultures for the sake of business opportunities.”
Blah blah blah.
Phi Delta Alpha president Taylor Cathcart and Alpha Pi president Courtney Wong told W-MUR New Hampshire the event was not meant to be a Mexican-themed party and that costumes were explicitly discouraged. They said the event was co-sponsored by 11 other fraternities and sororities and that since their priority was on fundraising, they moved the fundraiser online Sunday night. By Monday afternoon, they had raised $5,000 for the charity, according to W-MUR….