If We Knew Our History - Zinn Education Project Monthly Column
Presented by the Zinn Education Project
A Collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change

Author Sudie Hofmann Rethinking Cinco de Mayo
By Sudie Hofmann, a professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota
I recently came across a flier in an old backpack of my daughter's: Wanted: Committee Chairs for this Spring's Cinco de Mayo All School Celebration. The flier was replete with cultural props including a sombrero, cactus tree, donkey, taco, maracas, and chili peppers. Seeing this again brought back the moment when, years earlier, my daughter had handed the flier to me, and I'd thought, "Oh, no."

After making some inquiries, I was told the school wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo because it was Mexico's Independence Day. However, Cinco de Mayo is actually Battle of Puebla Day, commemorating the defeat of Napoleon III in 1862. Mexico's Independence Day is Sept. 16. I wrote the school and asked if they might consider canceling the event. I was concerned that the stereotypes associated with Chicana/os, such as fast-food items, pi�atas, sombreros, and serapes would be central to the event. Unfortunately, I was correct.
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