Features May 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

The Controversy Over a Taco Contest and Tequila Pub Crawl in Seattle

These photos, from the Facebook page for 107.7 The End’s ¡Fiesta 5K Ole! and Taco Truck Challenge page, more clearly illustrate the stereotyping of Mexican culture at the event than mere words possibly can.


Culture is not a costume, full stop. I don't know why white people can't understand this.
"MSNBC issued an apology."

Still waiting for the Stranger to do the same.

Here are Europeans dressing like Americans. Spoler: we always eat popcorn and drink out of red cups.

As I wrote on Cinco De Mayo:
"A bunch of white folks dressed up as "Mexicans" in Volunteer Park right now for the Olé 5k. "Wacky" sombreros, mustaches, mangled Spanish. So if you want to take some photos that'll horrify your future grandkids with how racially insensitive we were back then, now's your chance." - Paul Constant, May 3

With shifting demographics and the malleability of "whiteness", Cinco De Mayo is more likely to viewed as innocuous as St. Patrick's Day rather than horrific, by future grandkids.

Anyway, have a happy one.
". . .second annual Cuatro de Burro pub crawl, with live donkeys, a mariachi band, and a call to "Come dressed in the celebratory attire of festive Mexico."

Are people mainly just offended by the "dressing up like a mexican" part of this? I've spent a lot of time in Mexico and mariachi bands and donkeys really are a part of their culture so i don't see why that would offend anyone.
"The Cinco de Mayo party at the Cha Cha last night was pretty insane. Have a look:"

"I've spent a lot of time in Tokyo and sushi and anime really are a part of their culture so I don't see why that would offend anyone."

"I've spent a lot of time at Third and Pike and the n-word and baggy jeans really are a part of African American culture, so I don't see why that would offend anyone."

The important thing here is "part" of the culture. It can be an absolutely valid PART of the culture but using that reductive part of to reproduce the whole is really problematic, especially when it's A) not your culture and B) a minority culture and you are in the majority.
It's weird when the guy dressed as a giant bottle of tequila is technically the 'tasteful' one.
Everything is offensive, and some people won't be happy until everything fun is outlawed.
Cuatro de Burro is the "4th of Donkey". It's a celebration of donkeys based on the companies "heritage" story. It's not really about people. It's about donkeys.

I'm German and I hate how Oktoberfest portrays my people.
if it's wrong to do on May 5, it's wrong to do March 17, no matter how "accepted" one group is at this point.

if you are going to rain on a parade for politically correct reasons, at least be consistent.
Calling anything anti-Mexican "racist" is pure (offensive)ignorance. "Mexican" is not a race anymore than Canadian is--and neither is "Latino." Mexicans and Latinos come is a great variety of colors and ancestries.
"Mario Campos, president of the board of Casa Latina in Seattle, says, "A lot of Americans think Cinco de Mayo is our Fourth of July. Which it's not. It's totally wrong." Cinco de Mayo, as you may already be aware, was the date of a relatively obscure battle between French and Mexican forces in Puebla in 1862..."

It was definitely NOT an obscure battle; the French invaded to loot the Mexican treasury because many years of war had depleted the economy.

Napoleon III, whose army had not been defeated in battle for around 50 years showed up with the intent to re-po the debt owed to France. After sweeping the Mexican government out of Vera Cruz, the French, got their butts kicked by a smaller (by half) and poorly equipped Mexican army (who also employed guerilla tactics) despite the French army's superior equipment and firepower. Hardly an obscure battle – in Mexico, where it is a commemorated by a national holiday in those crucial states, and a nation-wide school holiday.

Also, if the French had succeeded, they were ready to assist the Confederacy in the American Civil War. The outcome could have been quite different with the aid of France.

So, drink your tequila, don your sombrero and thank the Mexican people of the 1860s for putting the hammer on France, at least for Cinco de Mayo.
Can't we just have huge wine parties on Bastille Day and make fun of the French? Nobody would complain about that....
Whenever the issue of cultural appropriation comes up, I always wonder why it's not ok to appropriate culture, but no one ever seems to have any issues when men dress up as women for Halloween or in drag shows. Because the arguments made against cultural appropriation (that it consists of a privileged group wearing the worst stereotypes of a less privileged group as a costume they can take on and off) also applies to men in drag, which often plays up the "zany" diva-ishness and catty, preening behaviors attributed to women.

I swear I'm not trolling here. I really don't see the difference and would love to hear from others as to why one is acceptable and the other isn't.
Seattle. What's the fear here? That racists have a platform to dress up and drink and perpetuate negative stereotypes? If you are starting from a position that sombreros and sarapes have a negative connotation I'd say that is more a reflection of your own feelings.

As with any of this kind of stuff, the barometer should be with the culture that is being celebrated. What percentage of Mexicans in Seattle does this holiday bother? This reads like a bunch of white people trying to one up each other with their mandatory liberal sensitivity. The one Mexican you were able to search out who might have a problem with the holiday didn't reference some outreach from within the Mexican community. He referenced Feministing. The joke seems to be on you.

drinko de mayo. also,show me 4 irishmen and I'll show you a 5th
The thing here that the article barely touched on and that is really the most important part about this is the larger context of racism and imperialism that exists in the US. Why it is hurtful and frustrating for white people to wear sombreros and mustaches on one day is that the other 364 days a year Mexican folks and Latin@s in general live under constant attack for their existence in this country, even/especially in areas that were traditionally parts of Mexico until the mid-1800s. So the fucked up thing is that one day we might read an editorial that says ''illegals go home'' in a newspaper and then the day after that it's all ''ohhhh we love mexicans, tequila, yeahhh!'' like white people get to ''participate'' in other cultures when it's fun to them but not when those cultures are dealing with constant oppression, erasure, and fucking genocide.
Just out of curiosity when did Mexican become a race? I thought this was a national holiday not having to do with ones race?
Welcome to the proverbial cultural melting pot. In America, there are hundreds of ethnic, religious, and cultural affiliations from which to choose for celebratory buffoonery and zany behavior.

The WORST thing in America, is total disregard of your self-identified cultural affiliation.
The EASIEST thing in America, is to make fun of white Americans. Try it –it's fun– and as long as it's just that –making fun– it's cool. Let's face it: every group and sub-group has its idiosyncrasies.

The fun-train only really jumps the track when discriminatory public policy is enacted, or when violent idiots who are incapable of playing with others, act on their violent impulses.
¡Viva la Mexico!
Settle down there cabrón. Your people stole that land from the Indians just like we did then you sold it to us fair and square. Do you even Treaty of Hidalgo?
LMFAO @ the liberal progressive white guilt.

you people really lead some pathetic lives.

If you suffer that greatly from white guilt, just put a .45 your head and pull the trigger. end.the.pain.

Can we all agree that Sparkle Donkey is quite possibly the worst name of any company ever?

Sparkle Donkey is a jab at all the tired stereotypes that nearly every other TQ company uses to market their tequila. It's also a riff on the Sparkle Pony meme.

Their website is pretty genius: http://sparkledonkey.com

they also invented a whole TQ study institute with fairly extensive content as part of the backstory


The TQ itself is pretty good -- a bit sweet for my taste though.

As an Italian, Domino's Pizza offends me greatly. What is it with you people...
As a white person I've seen plenty of redneck/white trash costumes, I'm not offended because I don't have shitty tattoos or regularly wear a wife beater. Unless you regularly wear a serape and ornate sombrero you probably shouldn't be offended. Just fools acting a fool, get over it.
It's in line with the American view of Mexico as a cheap-ass country full of funny subhumans and cheap crap for sale. It's a view of the country as Tijuana from the border to the other border.

I think it's fear, myself. You know, the founding editor of the New Yorker, Ross, was once quoted as saying "N______s are either funny or dangerous," and that attitude explains why so much was invested in stereotyping them -- one ridicules the thing that one hates and fears. So we see young Amazon drones walking around in sombreros and talking in Jose Jimenez voices, because the dominant culture is afraid of the dangerous Mexicans. You saw the map showing that the second most commonly spoken language in the US is Spanish, right? We (Mexicans) will have Texas back, and we might have Idaho and Ohio while we're up and around.

And kudos to Tacocat for ditching that sad food truck show. I like them more and more.
@1: Culture is not a costume

Culture is many many things, including a costume.

I especially liked the part where 4 (four!) people being offended constitutes an outrage. Get fucked and go be offended elsewhere.
@14 Actually the French did end up succeeding. The Puebla battle was a temporary setback and Napoleon III installed Ferdinand Maximilian, some random Hapsburg aristocrat, as 'emperor' of Mexico. It was some years later that Maximilian was defeated by Mexican revolutionaries and executed.
No one in Mexico knows or cares anything about May 5th, outside of a few notices in Puebla. What you're really celebrating is East LA Chicano Pride.

Sadly, to most Americans Mexico is a party theme -- even when they visit the country. That's the real problem with this: it's not a "celebration of Mexico", or Mexican-Americanism, it's a celebration of bullshit stereotypes. Burros? How about Volkswagons? They're much more representative of Mexico. My Jetta was made there.

I spend every May 5th dressed like a typical Mexican: jeans, collared shirt, regular shoes.

Now, if you want to talk about the REAL holiday, you missed it: CINCO DE CUATRO.
So all the Latinos with pants hanging off their ass speaking in psuedo-ghetto Ebonics are also guilty of racism? What about all the Indians on the Rez displaying the same behavior?
Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick's Day are American "drinking holidays", fully co-opted by beer and liquor companies. If you want to get mad at anyone for appropriating cultural stereotypes, get mad at them.

That said, I'm not naïve enough to believe that all these drunk white people are mocking Mexican people and culture for simple harmless fun.
It's unfortunate to see that nearly an entire column of Stranger commenters lack the sophistication to connect how racist caricature historically normalizes and internalizes ideas which continue to support a system of power and privilege that disproportionately provides advantages to the hegemonic group while using others as a social stepping stone.

On the other hand, if you don't have to deal with a lifetime of that shit, maybe it's kinda subtle to you.
Can I still have fun at Syttende Mai?
one of the things that makes Mexican culture more fun than US culture is the higher party frequency. people day-drinking in a sweet park is fun. tacos r awesome. the US has a top 5 Hispanophone population, per wiki. hopefully we can get even more of em.

most of their events, like many of ours, are based on made up gods and myths. why can't ours come from a battle whose importance we exaggerate?

I doubt the Mexicans at the battle drove Volkswagens, but it is of course very cool that the Mx automobile industry is approaching US productivity levels and therefore displacing Japan and Canada as the principal auto exporter to the US. Several Japanese firms are doing big things there, as is VW
Never ever apologize or give an inch to pc white-guilters. It's a form of tyranny against whites and/or anyone who has made responsible choices in life. It will never be enough no matter how much you apologize for being white and they will never be satisfied. In fact just to make an offensively hilarious point we should all spend one day dressed as a stereotype. Get over it and get a life.
From the Stranger's Commenting Policy...

We'd rather not moderate your comments, but anything that deviates from what we want people to hear may be removed, and repeat offenders may be banned from commenting. We never censor comments based on ideology that aligns with our own. Thanks to all who add to the circlejerk.
Well, just to make it clear, NOBODY FRICKIN CELEBRATES THIS IN MEXICO!!!! THEY JUST WON ONE BATTLE, ONE!!!! ITS A JOKE, HORRIBLE, TOO! Literally, NOBODY in México celebrates this! On this day in México (pronouce Me-hi-co) nobody cares about it! its not even in our calenders! On independence day for México, theres people dressed up in costume, floats on the street and trumpet players playing awesome tunes. here cinco de mayo is just a racist holiday they can dress extremely racist! its the most ridiculous and expoited 'holiday' in the WORLD!!!!!!!!
#60, we're not all whites here. Anyway, the situation doesn't demand an apology for whiteness as much as for fools acting like "white people". "Did I offend you by using a stereotype that was old and tired in the 1950? Sorry, dawg, just having a good time!"
Most holidays consist of stereotypes. Jesus, have you seen the "Indians" portrayed during Thanksgiving? Wiccans are not well represented on Halloween. The Irish get mocked on St Patrick's Day. Mother's Day is hardly free from stereotypes, and Valentine's Day is all about 'em. Memorial Day has pretty much devolved into BBQ Day (fuck the dead, amiright?). Basically, we suck at holidays. Suck at 'em. Sucks that this is happening to Latinos... welcome to America?
The line is crossed when people have the power to act on hatred and stereotypes. Non-Irish people assimilating St Patricks Day is very annoying, but no Irish people in America are being hurt in a significant way because of green beer and leprechaun costumes (at least in a way where it's a severe social problem). However, people of Mexican descent are absolutely suffering and dying because of white people's hatred and dismissal of them as actual human beings.
We think this article is PC run amok.
@65 How does one act like "white people"? Is gang related gun fire or car burglary just someone acting like "brown people"? It should be ok to use that term right?
I'm aware of the ultimate outcome of the campaign. My point was to rebut an assertion in the article stated by "Mario Campos, president of the board of Casa Latina in Seattle" in which Mario's claim was that the battle of Puebla in 1862 was "relatively obscure." The battle was actually a crucial morale victory, which is why it is celebrated to this day.
But thanks, for contributing.
It is a state holiday in two states.
It is a national school holiday.
@60 I think your statement "It's a form of tyranny against whites and/or anyone who has made responsible choices in life" made it abundantly clear where your mindset is. A "responsible choice" in life would be keeping your ignorance in check, as opposed to painting in broad strokes the type of stereotypical thinking you're trying to sell here.
75: This guy obviously equates whiteness with responsibility, and therefore is probably a huge racist.
Point of Information:

Don't many Mexican restaurants in Seattle (and I believe many/most owned by Mexican-Americans) celebrate Cinco de Mayo? It's a "commercial holiday" to encourage people to buy more food and drink. No?

@27 your comment confused me for a hot minute before I realized you thought I was Mexican. For the record, I'm white, but I guess you're trying to say that Mexicans stole where they were living from Indians before they lost the Spanish American war? Pretty weird thing to say considering that lots of Mexican people are indigenous. Yeah there are/were lots of Spanish/mestizo people there, but the idea that the indigenous Mexicans stole their land from....indigenous Mexicans is pretty silly. do you even history bro?
Bethany, great article, a nice semblance of objectivity underlied with a heavy dose of common sense. This argument ends with the fact that the blackface analog holds, i.e. characterizing Mexicans as mustachioed sombrero wearing tequila drinking drunkards=characterizing black people as soft shoeing big lipped obedient morons. Justify it all you want but ultimately if you're against one you ought to be against the other. Here's an idea, we could celebrate the actual Mexican Independence Day, September 16th, not dress like fucking morons, and still get drunk and have a good time...
I'll take this seriously when Little Caesar's drops the use of their olive-branch crowned, toga-wearing "Italian".
I don't know why everyone gets so upset by people celebrating anything and having a good time. I'm Mexican, and I know what Cinco de Mayo actually was, and I still celebrate it simply as a day that "white folks" are actively thinking about Mexicans. And honestly, I'd rather it be through campy hats and eating tacos than what it normally is - illegal immigration and everything surrounding that issue. Relax, and try to have a sense of humor. You'll be happier in the end.
Why, Bethany Jean Clement, do we hear all this anti-racist noise? Never hear any noise supporting racism. And it seems to come from only one directiion: Blacks and Mexicans -- and acquiescing "bleeding-heart," misguided whites parroting them with, "Sho you right."

Are there no racist Mexicans? No racist blacks? Have we reached no "Gentleman's Agreement" on this perennial noise because the playing-field is so lopsided or tilted by only the noise of blacks and Mexicans?

What about standing back and looking at the scene from space and saying: "Anybody who isn't a racist will not discriminate; will not say, Get outta my face. I see and hear the ignorant crap that people who look like you are into on our streets, in our schools, and in your neighborhoods!"
#70, you know the stereotype. Let's have a "White People Day" where people dress up in hip t-shirts and walk around ridiculing everybody they meet, then try to play it off as a joke. Oops, that was last night on Pike and Pine, wasn't it? (And if this makes you feel hurt inside, well, live with that feeling every day for the next fifty years then get back to me.)

#83, right on. Nobody should be racist. You first.
#70 -- I guess I didn't really answer your question. You can make all the remarks about what "brown people" you want, honey bunny! We know what "brown people" are supposed to be like, but that would give us a very good idea what YOU are like.
made up holidays r better than real holidays because people disagree about real good things, like legally intrusive racial desegregation by the feds and the US retreat from Vietnam

it's not like US had won anything on July 4th, either. do we commemorate the Brit surrender or the revolutionary manifesto?

mass deportations of petty offenders r wrong. denial of access to social services is wrong. when u make the target the attitudes and recreational tastes of everyday people, u r alienating the majority for a small and unlikely payoff (a regular, non-party day on May 5).
The author of this article should only wear the clothing of, eat the food of, listen to the music of, read the literature of, live in the houses built by, live by the tales of, and celebrate the holidays of her ancestors.

Until she does that, she's just another clueless prig.

If she did that, she'd be burnt at the stake.

Fun fun.
Would you like some corn stalk twine and feathers, oh indignant ones?

A bit of burlap, perchance?
Or you can go catch drunk-ass 13 year old Irish girls at Trafalgar as they fall from walls.

Ever seen a drunken native?

And then, after a full day of drinking with a group of people from all over the world, you're sitting in a park by the River Thames drinking a bottle of Jameson you purchased (which, quite consequentially, is most likely the best liquor they've ever had), before Bono's twin brother starts screaming about the negros(in not such kind terms) before telling you he is going to nuke you.

And that, my friends, is your great celebration.
This must suck, guys.

This must really fucking suck.

What are you going to do? Wage another four-year jaw war?



@47 Shit, you think THAT'S pathetic, I sat home on Cinco de Mayo, simply munching on some otherwise perfectly muy delicioso organic corn tortilla chips dipped in medium black bean and corn salsa, and made the mistake of calling my former self-appointed "Supreme Ruler of the Universe on Someone Else's Hard-earned Money" narcissist gold-digger of an older sister to wish her a Happy May 5th. After the initial long-distance greeting, she turned immediately disconsolate upon hearing that all was well for me, however Bohemian. "I would have enjoyed fixing a lavish Mexican fiesta meal,' she says, 'but all I have are leftovers...[hubby] STILL isn't home yet....I've had an exhausting day...sniffle sniffle...'
This from a woman who four years ago went out to dinner every night of the week, took two token bites of said made-to-order entree before having it boxed up by the server to go, and further contributing to a fridge with enough leftovers to feed Africa for a year before finally declaring bankruptcy after 34 years of living the ultimate fantasy.

Long and short: Her expressed Anne Romney-style outrage is all over my buying a mere bag of corn tortilla chips and jar of salsa for less than ten bucks at a local grocery store?!

And people are puzzled as to why I don't bother much anymore in keeping in touch with my older sibs!
re @93: I am NOT making this shit up, but everybody please feel laugh your asses off anyway.
@94: *sigh* Damn typos!
I meant: 'I am NOT making this shit up, but everybody please feel free to laugh your asses off anyway.'

Cinco de Mayo - Yet another holiday that's used an excuse for young Americans to get shit faced, behave like fools, and embarrass themselves in public.

It's gratifying to know that this latest who-cares-why-we're-celebrating-let's-just-drink-til-we-puke occasion met all the criteria for low-brow brainlessness.

Please wait...

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