Cinco de Mayo – "Just another wednesday"

by CalWatchdog Staff | May 6, 2010 10:41 am

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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