Frida celebrates Cinco de Mayo

8 feminist ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Frida celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Frida Kahlo has very feminist plans for Cinco de Mayo. (via Feminist Texican Reads)

Happy Drinco de Mayo! Today plenty of people around the country are getting drunk on behalf of Mexicans, a sweet and thoughtful gesture. Unfortunately, drinking lots of tequila is not enough to change the racism and xenophobia plenty of Mexicans and other Latinxs face in the U.S. But never fear feminists! Since we have decided that a somewhat arbitrary battle between France and Mexico is a day worth celebrating, let’s celebrate it Feministing style, shall we? Here are 8 ways you can honor Cinco de Mayo:

1. Don’t dress up like “a Mexican.”

No sombreros, mustaches, or donkeys please. This is bare minimum y’all.

2. Learn your history.

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday meant to commemorate Mexico’s victory in a battle against the French, known as the Battle of Puebla. The battle was the result of Napolean III’s attempt to invade Mexico, and represents a David-beats-Goliath struggle where imperialistic powers lost, just this once (though France went on to successfully invade Mexico City a year later). This date was also important to U.S. history, because by temporarily losing to Mexico, France was unable to send support to the Confederate Army until it was too late to have an effect. If not for the Battle of Puebla, the Union may not have won the Civil War.

Cinco de Mayo was first celebrated by Mexican-Americans living on the West Coast of the U.S. who were passionate about the struggle for Mexican freedom from imperialism. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that corporations – particularly companies that produce alcoholic beverages – began to capitalize on the holiday as a “celebration” of Mexican culture. Today, the holiday has a lot more to do with U.S. capitalism than it does with Mexican-American history.

3. Support the struggle for fair immigration reform that prioritizes women.

Learn about the 1500 women who fasted around the country for fair immigration reform just last month. Our current broken system disproportionately affects women, who are often separated from their families or left in precarious situations in the effort to avoid deportation. Undocumented women are often exploited for their work, and are more likely to work in unsafe situations. For immigrant women with documents, 70% of them attain legal status through family-based visas. This can leave women dependent on abusive partners, and often impedes their ability to work in the country. Join We Belong Together in the fight to change this.

4. Stop buying marijuana.

To all of us liberals who love to wax poetic on the benefits of marijuana, and how it is much less dangerous than alcohol, blah blah blah: Purchasing marijuana that you did not grow (or was not grown near you) is what fuels the drug war in Mexico (and the same war against people of color on the streets of the U.S.). Drug-related violence in Mexico disproportionately affects women, who become targets for increased – and increasingly lethal – violence. If you cannot or will not stop buying marijuana, then join the movement to legalize it in the U.S., which studies show could drastically reduce revenue to Mexican drug cartels.

5. Support Mexican-American studies.

Learn what this phrase means “We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us.” Read up on the history of Mexican-American women (like Juana Briones)  in the U.S., and speak out against states that try to ban this important topic from public schools.

6. Read a good book from Mexico.

Like Water for Chocolate is a great first Mexican feminist book. (via Wikipedia)

Like Water for Chocolate is a great first Mexican feminist book. (via Wikipedia)

Want to celebrate Mexican culture? Read about it. I would dip your toe in with Like Water for Chocolate, then graduate to Gloria Anzaldúa. 

7. Learn Spanish.

Huge swaths of the U.S. once spoke Spanish, and Latinxs are quickly becoming a majority in many U.S. states, so speaking Spanish is becoming more and more useful. Also, Spanish is a really cool language, and being bilingual in any languages has all kinds of benefits.

8. Join the fight to end deportations.

Our president has now reached the 2 million mark. That’s 2 million people separated from their loved ones, 2 million sent back to potentially dangerous situations, 2 million who were probably detained, many in deplorable conditions and for too long. That’s 2 million too many. Watch this video to get inspired by the incredible work being done to change this, then join the protests that are happening around the nation. Demand that Obama do the bare minimum for our immigrant communities by stopping deportations.

You’ve probably never heard of this woman. But you’re living her legacy.
How U.S. policy contributes to gendered violence in Mexico


Juliana will be celebrating Cinco de Mayo from her computer, while blogging.

Bay Area, California

Juliana is a digital storyteller for social change. As a writer at Feministing since 2013, her work has focused on women's movements throughout the Americas for environmental justice, immigrant rights, and reproductive justice. In addition to her writing, Juliana is a Senior Campaigner at, where she works to close the gap between the powerful and everyone else by supporting people from across the country to launch, escalate and win their campaigns for justice.

Juliana is a Latina feminist writer and campaigner based in the Bay Area.

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