As a college student, there’s not much to dislike about Cinco de Mayo. We get to eat Mexican food and drink cervezas and margaritas all day long if we please, and the Hispanic side of me loves any opportunity to show off my guacamole-making skills. So when Cinco de Mayo came yesterday, I was pretty excited to celebrate. But as the night got off to a start, I found myself hating the “holiday.”
My roommate and I headed to a party over at Ducks Village apartments and were immediately greeted by friends disguised in big mustaches and sombreros. I tried not to think too much of the offensive costumes, and instead decided to chalk it up to the excessive amount of tequila they had been drinking all day. A couple of hours and a few Coronas later, we decided to hit the campus bars, where things were much, much worse.
As I waited in line at Taylors, it seemed as though everyone around us was in costume. It was like Halloween night, except everyone called each other earlier that day and decided they should all dress up as offensive portrayals of Mexicans. The mustaches and sombreros were getting noticeably larger and I couldn’t help but notice that most of the kids in costume were white.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, some decided to leave the sombreros and ponchos at home and instead sported bandanas and fake tattoos, because apparently being a gangster is the same thing as being a Mexican.
The whole night, I waded through a crowd of people in offensive costumes speaking conversations in broken Spanish. Friends were constantly reassuring me that it was all in fun and that I shouldn’t let it get to me, but it was hard to listen when they weren’t the ones having their race made fun of.
Is this really all people think about when it comes to Mexican culture? Booze and gangsters? Because if these are things that are actually a part of our culture, I apparently missed the memo.
I know these offensive Cinco de Mayo shenanigans aren’t limited to Eugene, but it was disappointing to see it in a place I’ve called home for the last 4 years. Not only are these depictions of Mexicans highly offensive, but they reinforce negative stereotypes about an entire race of people. A culture is not a costume, and people need to think of that before they suit up for Cinco de Mayo.