Column: The best of both borders

  • Posted: 5/12/2013 9:49 AM
    6/1/2013 5:49 PM

Cinco de Mayo has come and gone and, as some of you just now wake up from Sunday’s festivities, I’ll give you a moment to digest what you have just done.

The day – not Mexican Independence Day – is a victory celebration of a town in Mexico called Puebla whose battle over the conquering French led to eventual widespread revolt. A fact that, I’m sure, many of you didn’t put together as you washed back the tacos with margaritas.

The holiday is as much a Mexican creation as Taco Bell. Mexico provides the meat; Americans embellish it. Widely, the holiday is not as celebrated in Mexico as it is here in the states. Here, it tends to be more of an excuse to party with friends than relive the triumph of a town. But, that’s how holidays go; it’s easy to say that it’s wrong, not really worthwhile to change it.

I could, and will, do better than softly argue with you that it’s a mockery of the suffering of countless Mexicans because what is any holiday other than an excuse to let go and embrace freedom.

Instead, let me assert that some people’s stance on the holiday is balanced on hypocrisy.

One day we dig our tortilla chips into a bowl of salsa and the next, a hole for another post in the interstate border fence.

It may just be my Latino blood that distorts my view this way, but I cannot help but wonder if anyone else sees the irony.

Mexican restaurants sustained by immigrant employees go out of their way to accommodate at or above capacity individuals who boldly sing karaoke with their sombreros while with cowardice check a ballot in opposition.

I cannot blame either party, really. I’d probably do it for the money if I owned the restaurant; Mexican food is tasty, so why not go and eat it?

However, being that Mexican influence is such a large part of our culture, it seems as though we are awfully picky about how we choose to embrace it. There are days where we partake in their customs, and others where we don’t want anything to do with their people.

Inevitably, culture and identity are inseparable. Choosing one day of ethnic harmony because alcohol or a good time is in order against another where jobs or tax monies might be on the table seems dishonorable and without justification.

Sadly, I do not know of any way to change it. There are days when I’m certain politics matters more to this country than a good time and others when, in this case, I’m not.

• JoBen Rivera-Thompson is a Spanish teacher of Puerto Rican heritage at Fox Creek High School.

He has a B.A. in journalism and Spanish from Georgia Regents University. He has written for The Bell Ringer and Garden City Jazz Journal. Email him at