Cinco de Mayo – "Just another wednesday"

In a staggering act of ignorance and hypocracy, five students at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill were sent home yesterday for wearing American Flag t-shirts and bandanas on Cinco de Mayo. The students were told they were fueling the fire and inciting anger with Hispanic students.

Several television news reports highlighted the story last evening, and interviewed the boys. Each of the boys described how the school’s Assistant Principal Miguel Rodriguez, told the boys they must turn their shirts inside out or risk suspension. The boys went home instead to outraged parents.

The school district released a statement saying it did not agree with the school’s actions and the students will not receive suspensions. No one has reported whether or not the Vice Principal will be suspended instead.

For perspective on Cinco de Mayo, Oscar Casares, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, wrote, “Cinco de Mayo is not even a Mexican holiday – it’s a Mexican-American holiday celebrating the Mexican militia’s win over the French at the Battle of Puebla. For the average Mexican, today is just another Wednesday.

“The holiday, which has never really been much of one in Mexico, crossed over to this side of the border in the 1950s and 1960s, as civil rights activists were attempting to build harmony between the two countries and cultures,” Casares wrote.

In the 1980’s Cinco de Mayo became more of a marketing opportunity, primarily by beer companies.

I wonder however, if teachers ever teach students about the actual origin and meaning of Cinco de Mayo – and no, it’s not a celebration of Mexican Independence Day. Although Cinco de Mayo celebrates a battle won by the Mexicans over the French, they were defeated shortly thereafter. The Mexican army won this battle but they did not win the war, and were governed by the French for the next three years. Once the U.S. Civil War ended, the United States demanded that the French withdraw their forces from Mexico, and set up a naval blockade along the Rio Grande to prevent French reinforcements from landing. Shortly afterward, Naploeon III capitulated and the French left Mexico.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is not the issue. At issue is when educators misuse their authority as the Vice Principle of Live Oak High School did.  And when teachers act as fountains of misinformation such as they do with Cinco de Mayo, ether by omission or out of ignorance, they are doing a tremendous disservice to students.

I won’t be surprised if the parents of the five flag-wearing boys sue the school.

I wonder… did the school fly the American flag yesterday as they undoubtedly do, every other day of the year.

– Katy Grimes

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  1. Adam
    Adam 7 May, 2010, 08:49

    Taking your wondering a bit further Katy, do you think they all recited the Pledge of Allegiance that morning as well? I hope the school gets sued, I hope people get fired, this insanity can’t stand. We can’t continue down this path of becoming the United States of Pander and Cater.

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  2. LaLola
    LaLola 7 May, 2010, 10:21

    I was outraged that they would make kids take off patriotic Red, White and Blue – until I spoke to a Live Oak parent at the gym last night. Apparently, those 5 kids are known bully/ trouble makers and they planned ahead to wear the shirts and taunt the Cinco de Mayo celebrants. They were sent home because they didnt wear the colors to be patriotic, they purposely set out to be disputive and make trouble. Now I am outraged that these “rotten” kids are getting so much attention and hiding behind our Flag to get away with being bullies.
    The moral of the story is that things are often not as simple as they seem on the surface. For me, someone who was initially upset at the officals, this was a good reminder of the importance to have all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

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  3. Admin
    Admin Author 8 May, 2010, 19:01

    LaLola – that’s like blaming a rape victim for dressing provocatively. Regardless of the intent of the boys, the American Flag is still the American flag. The school VP was wrong and the Mexican-American students claiming to be offended at the “disrespect” are wrong as well. This is America – not Mexico.

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  4. Margo Judge
    Margo Judge 25 May, 2010, 11:15

    Let us assume that both facts are true.
    1) The boys were bullies and intended to wear the shirts to taunt and incite and make trouble.
    2) The American Flag is a symbol of patriotism and should never be required to be worn inside out.
    Those five boys, regardless of their intent, should have been allowed to wear their American flag t-shirts and not allowed to taunt or make trouble. It is negative behavior, and not assumed intent, that could have been addressed. As it happened, if the boys were going to be bullies, they got away with being heroes instead.
    The American Flag is about patriotism, it is not about ethnicity. It stands for democracy not for class warfare.
    If it is true that the boys were going to misuse the symbol of the American Flag, the school should have waited until they did so. Then they could have said, they intended to stand by the ideals of the American Flag and were not going to allow it to be misrepresented by anyone. That would have been a much more powerful argument and a better lesson for those boys.
    Margo Judge

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