Students at the University of Arizona were lambasted for dressing up in Mexican Sombreros and celebrating the Cinco de Mayo festival. Two professors and a student called the celebrations “cultural appropriation” in the school’s 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 the college. “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.”
As reported in the Daily Caller:
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.
Chris Sigurdson, a spokesman for UA, said that the university doesn’t have any policy on cultural appropriation, but that “fortunately,” many people in the “diverse” area understand the concept.