Two professors and a student at the University of Arizona (UA) called Cinco de Mayo “cultural appropriation” in a Wednesday editorial for The Daily Wildcat, the school’s student newspaper.
“The one thing that really surprised me was that students were putting on their Mexican costumes,” said Maurice Magaña, a Mexican American Studies associate professor at UA. “They’re both non-Mexican students, as well as Mexican-American students, putting on their sombreros and serapes and doing that little show, and it really surprised me to see that.”
“It’s possible to appreciate other people’s cultures and not think that that community that you don’t belong to is a single sort of form of entity and that everybody in that dresses the same way, looks that same way, speaks the same way, acts the same way.”
Instead of “putting on a horrible costume and getting drunk,” Magaña suggested volunteering for pro-immigrant groups, calling senators, or even going to Mexico and spending money there.
Michelle Télez, an assistant professor of Mexican American Studies at UA, also spoke to The Daily Wildcat about the holiday and cultural appropriation.
“Ask yourself: why do you celebrate it? Like who is it important to and for,” said the professor. “I’m all for celebrating life and making music and dancing and celebrating each other and the relationships that we have, but if it’s attached to an idea that doesn’t represent a particular people that it’s alleging to represent, then what does that do?”
Belén Grijalva, a Mexican student at UA, said she does not celebrate Cinco de Mayo and expressed confusion about why non-Mexican people celebrate it. She said that the holiday is regularly portrayed inaccurately.
“I think that it’s really cultural appropriation, because me being Mexican, I don’t celebrate it because I’m not from Puebla and like why should I celebrate?” said Grijalva, referring to the source of the celebration, an 1862 Mexican military victory against the French in Puebla, Mexico.
“I can tell you that not all Mexicans dress like that,” the student continued, referencing costumes worn on Cinco de Mayo. “[People] have this misconception about how Mexicans dress and how Mexicans act and how Mexicans are all partying and all that good stuff, however you want to put it, but it’s not only that. Mexicans are really hard workers, and they just take our culture just to make fun of it or to celebrate something that is not even theirs.”
The Daily Caller News Foundation spoke with Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for UA, concerning whether the school has addressed “cultural appropriation” with its students and faculty.
“Fortunately, as one of the most diverse land-grant universities in the country in a very diverse community, the concept of cultural appropriation and celebrations is generally understood by many here,” Sigurdson told TheDCNF. But he went on to note that “the UA doesn’t have any policies on cultural appropriation.”
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