Surviving Cinco de Mayo: one man’s ambivalent guide to the Taco Bell of holidays


It’s not that I hate Cinco de Mayo, I’m mostly just confused. Are Americans who celebrate with sombreros and jalapeño poppers making fun of Mexicans or celebrating us? If I were to host a Cinco de Mayo party, serving homemade pozole and showing Iñárritu films, am I reclaiming the day or being suckered into something unsavory?

The only comparable celebration in America to Cinco de Mayo is St. Patrick’s Day—the country’s homage to drunkenness and the color green. And the Irish have pretty much made it into mainstream America, so maybe a debaucherous, stereotype-driven holiday is a milestone on the path to cultural acceptance?

I haven’t always been so ambivalent about the 5th of May. Once upon a time, at the height of my self-righteousness, I thought I knew what to make of this strange holidayish fiasco: it was bullshit, simple as that, a marketing invention that was also kinda racist.

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About Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an intendent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which will be Fall 2017. His work has appeared in The Southern Tablet, Cattywampus, Charleston Currents, Illuminations, RiverSedge, and other journals.He has performed in venues across the United States and Germany. He has worked as a photographer’s assistant, busboy, and bookseller. He currently works at a curation facility for Cold War History.

Posted on May 13, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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