Thursday, May 6, 2010

This is the US not Mexico

I understand that Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday. I also understand that many Mexican Americans observe the holiday here in the United States, but for anyone to take offense to the five students at Live Oak High School  in Morgan Hill, California is nothing short of ludicrous. These five young men, sporting their patriotism for the US, were asked to either remove their shirts, turn them inside out, go home, or be suspended. However, the more than 100 students that were wearing depictions and colors of the Mexican Flag (red, white, and green) were not reprimanded.

One of the boys in questions is 1/2 Mexican. The boys were not causing problems, they were not instigating fights. On the contrary, other students, Mexican students to be precise, had approached them and had told them they were offended by their attire. These boys never said a word to the more than 100 students sporting patriotism for Mexico even though they were attending a US school.

Now I am not adverse to Mexicans nor do I have problems with Mexico as a country. I have taught at a Dallas high school where over 90% of the student population were from Mexico. I love the culture. When one of the students was having problems in her home she came to live with us for several months so she could finish school. However, I am extremely adverse to making American students feel as if supporting their country is wrong. I don't care what day of the year it is.

I also noted an absence of this particular story on CNN. Every other news site seemed to have it listed. CNN has been putting out sob stories of fear in Arizona over the new immigration law. They even posted a story about Cinco De Mayo in Arizona and how the new law, which isn't even being implemented at this time and doesn't go into effect for another month, has scared people into not celebrating this Mexican holiday. Forgive me if I laugh at this.

Perhaps CNN is not aware that Cinco de Mayo is about victory of a Mexican battle over the French forces in 1862. It actually has limited significance in Mexico and isn't widely celebrated. The major holiday of Mexico is in September and is called "Grito de Doleres." So, so much for the major significance of the holiday. It would be like the US creating a holiday for defeating the British in the Battle of the Chesapeake.

Why don't we have a holiday for this on September 5?

It is one thing to respect the rights and ideas of  immigrants in this country, but is an entirely different matter when we impose the lifestyles and holidays of another country on US students that have no interest in participating. Students at this school were taken from learning to being entertained by Mexican dancers and Mexican bands.

I know in Neenah High School they have diversity clubs. We take the time to learn about other cultures and celebrations in foreign language classes and through classes such as World History and Humanities. No one is saying that immigrants to this country should not be proud of their heritage, but they should also respect that they are celebrating in the United States and not in their country. Their national pride does not and should not override our own.

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