Aya de Leon

author – activist – faculty – mom

Dear White People/Queridos Gringos: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us – Stop Colonizing The Day Of The Dead

IMG_9297Dear White People (or should I say Queridos Gringos/Gabachos),

Let me begin by saying it is completely natural that you would find yourself attracted to The Day of The Dead. This indigenous holiday from Mexico celebrates the loving connection between the living and our departed loved ones that is so deeply missing in Western culture. Who wouldn’t feel moved by intricately and lovingly built altars, beautifully painted skull faces, waterfalls of marigold flowers, fragrant sweet breads and delicious meals for those whom we miss sharing our earthly lives. I understand. Many cultures from around the world celebrate these things, and many of them at this time of year. As a woman whose Latin@ heritage is Puerto Rican, I have grown up in California, seeing this ritual all my life and feeling the ancestral kinship to this reverent, prayerful honoring of the departed.

Let me continue by saying that it is completely natural that you would want to participate in celebrating The Day of The Dead. You, like all human beings, have lineage, ancestors, departed family members. You have skulls under the skin of your own faces, bones beneath your flesh. Like all mortals, you seek ways to understand death, to befriend it, and celebrate it in the context of celebrating life and love.

I understand.

And in the tradition of indigenous peoples, Chican@ and Mexican-American communities have not told you not to come, not to join, not to celebrate your dead alongside them. In the tradition of indigenous peoples and of ceremony, you, in your own grief and missing your loved ones have not been turned away. You arrived at the Dia De Los Muertos ceremony shipwrecked, a refugee from a culture that suppresses grief, hides death, banishes it, celebrates it only in the most morbid ways—horror movies, violent television—death is dehumanized, without loving connection, without ceremony. You arrived at El Dia De Los Muertos like a Pilgrim, starving, unequal to survival in the land of grief, and the indigenous ceremonies fed you and took you in and revived you and made a place for you at the table.

And what have you done?

Like the Pilgrims, you have begun to take over, to gentrify and colonize this holiday for yourselves. I was shocked this year to find Day of the Dead events in my native Oakland Bay Area not only that were not organized by Chican@s or Mexican@s or Latin@s, but events with zero Latin@ artists participating, involved, consulted, paid, recognized, acknowledged, prayed with.

Certain announcements of some of this year’s celebrations conjured visions of hipsters drinking special holiday microbrews and listening to live music by white bands and eating white food in calavera facepaint and broken trails of marigolds. Don’t bother to build an altar because your celebration is an altar of death, a ceremony of killing culture by appropriation. Do you really not know how to sit at the table? To say thank you? To be a gracious guest?

This year, as midterm elections near and “immigration reform” gets bandied about on the lips of politicians, urban young white voters will wear skull faces and watch puppets with dancing skeleton bones, and party and drink and celebrate. But those same revelers will not think for a single second of deaths of Latin@s trying to cross a militarized border to escape from the deaths caused by NAFTA and CAFTA and US foreign policy and drug policies and dirty wars in Mexico and Central America. Amidst the celebration, there will be no thought for femicide in Juarez, for murdered and missing Indigenous women in North America. As they drink and dance in white-organized and dominated Dia De Los Muertos celebrations without a thought for us, except perhaps the cleaning or custodial staff that will clean up after them, we Latin@s learn what we learned in 1492 about the invaders: you want the golden treasures of our culture, but you don’t want us. Since then, white people have shown that they don’t value indigenous life, but are fascinated by indigenous spirituality.

Not all white people feel this way. Thank you to those of you who speak up against this. Thank you to all who boycott these events, support Latin@/Chican@/Mexican@-led events, hire our community’s artists, and hold the tradition with reverence. For those of you who haven’t been doing so, it’s not too late to start. Challenge white people who attempt to appropriate. Boycott their events and be noisy about it. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to participate in this deeply human holiday, there’s something wrong with wanting to colonize.

And the urge to colonization is born when your own land and resources have been taken over by the greedy and your cultures have been bankrupted. Halloween has a rich history as an indigenous European holiday that celebrated many of the same themes as Day of the Dead, but you have let it be taken over by Wal-Mart. Now it’s about plastic decorations and cheap polyester costumes and young women having permission to wear sexy clothes without being slut-shamed and kids bingeing on candy. November first finds piles of plastic and synthetic junk headed to the landfill to litter the earth. You have abandoned Halloween, left it laying in the street like a trampled fright wig from the dollar store. Take back your holiday. Take back your own indigenous culture. Fight to reclaim your own spirituality.

Please. Stop colonizing ours.

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1,667 comments on “Dear White People/Queridos Gringos: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us – Stop Colonizing The Day Of The Dead

  1. Ruby Pipes
    November 1, 2016

    Thank you for this.

    • Alistair Murphy
      November 2, 2016

      hmm, this is all fine but Halloween is also an indigenous holiday for the celt’s then hijacked by the christians and apart from this little note bringing it to light, you don’t hear us complaining.

      • Leah Nicholson
        November 2, 2016

        Alistair, you are derailing the conversation and centralizing in on a white non-issue that has nothing to do with colonization or appropriation or any of the topics being discussed. Do not derail a conversation just because it isn’t about you, and we need to be very clear here, IT IS NOT ABOUT YOU.

    • Evangeline V
      November 4, 2016

      Ridiculous. It’s such a racist screed.

  2. Joel Sanchez
    November 1, 2016

    Thank you.

  3. Brenda
    November 1, 2016

    Guess what, not all “white people” are the same. There will always be people in every culture, celebrating what is suppose to be spiritual and making it less than. Many holidays have morphed into something completley different than what they were intended, but its not acurate to say white people ruined them all.

    • Robin
      November 1, 2016

      Im a gringo and i wore day of the dead make up, and i dont want to offend you. Im embarrassed of the history i learned in school and appalled at the repeating of cultural violence in south dakota now.
      While dressed and honoring day of the dead i explained our ancestors to my teens. We threw flowers and foods into the wind in a few places too. And we talk about conquering fear with the scary costumes for halloween. Please know i read your article because i do not want to particpate in offending you or your rich history. I appreciate what you are saying. As a woman who appreciates plant and nature and medicine women histories I can resent the christmas thing, and yet if i can see the good coming out of it, and put my energy in loving what is and the people here now with me, then the bits that are true and strong come through louder. I am grateful the tree and wreath and some concepts made it into the mass marketted version of that holiday, and i do still get mad when someone says they (who? Other people, how dare they?!?) are stealing Christmas, as if calling it winter holidays in a non denominational setting dishonors Christ or Christmas – it doesn’t. I hear you and maybe we can keep the things that are strong and true louder than our desire to judge, hate or fight each other. Much love to you and may you and your ancestors feel my sincere hoponono – im sorry, please forgive me, i love you, and thank you 🙄

      • Tomás
        November 1, 2016

        People defending this log entry have poor reading compression skills. They are not the least bit offended by the offensive post, crudely written by a Puerto Rican (not a Mexican from the south, who, historically, Dia de Los Muertos belongs to) BUT they are apologizing for offending Hispanics for copying makeup and for the crimes committed against indigenous pre-Colombian peoples.

        Dia de Los Muertos, as we know it today, is of Spaniard origin; didn’t the name tip you off??? Spanish Catholics baptized a pagan Holiday by taking what was good and removing what was unChristian, just as they did with harvest festivals such as Hallowe’en (All Hallows’ Evening); but again, didn’t the name of Halloween tip you off???

        White people, stop feeling guilty and apologizing for bloody history that you took no part in.

        Hispanics who hate white people, white people are your ancestors (didn’t your surnames tipnyou off???)

        This blog entry is simply that…a blog entry. There is no way something this racist and prejudiced, lacking any scholarly citations, would’ve been published in any respected publication.

      • Leah Nicholson
        November 2, 2016

        Robin, as I said to another commenter above, you are derailing the conversation and centralizing in on a white non-issue that has nothing to do with colonization or appropriation or any of the topics being discussed.

        People are telling you that appropriating their culture is hurtful, so listen to them, and stop doing it, it’s a simple as that.

        Do NOT bring a bunch of crap about Christmas into this, it literally has nothing to do with anything and bringing it up is ridiculous.

    • xcryssi
      November 2, 2016

      It literally says in the article “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE”. Literally says that. As a white person, yes it is white peoples fault. Stop and listen.

  4. Shelly
    November 1, 2016

    ^^ Found the white person

    • Skmoore
      November 1, 2016

      LOL

    • BurningIce
      November 2, 2016

      LOL. And actually Tomas is wrong. Dia de los Muertos is not originally of Spanish origin. It actually originated from the Aztecs. Their ritual was then adopted by the Spanish and made into the celebration you see today.

  5. Firebird11
    November 1, 2016

    Thank you for speaking up. I was recently saw a post on Facebook of a well known astrologer who enjoys sharing spiritual wisdom from many traditions and chose to post a pic of his ancestors on Oct 31st. A follower liked his post and said that Oct 31 was ancestor worship day. Was this follower corrected? No. When I attempted to point out the difference between Halloween and Los días de Los Muertos I was told by the astrologer he could celebrate his ancestors whenever he wanted. A load of followers jumped on the bandwagon to defend him (from their profile pics most if not all were white). I have no problem with people celebrating their ancestors on any given day but give credit where credit is due and stop perpetuating ignorance. The astrologer is white by the way. If people feel inspired by our traditions they should give thanks and respect to those who have kept these traditions alive in the face of incredible odds. Be vigilant that even in supposedly “enlightened” circles racism is alive and well.

    • Evangeline V
      November 4, 2016

      The astrologer was correct. He can celebrate whenever. Samhain is a pretty old celebration so you should read up on it.

  6. Tomás
    November 1, 2016

    People defending this blog entry have poor reading comprehension skills. They are not the least bit offended by the offensive post, crudely written by a Puerto Rican (not a Mexican from the south, who, historically, Dia de Los Muertos belongs to) BUT they are apologizing for offending Hispanics for copying makeup and for the crimes committed against indigenous pre-Colombian peoples.

    Dia de Los Muertos, as we know it today, is of Spaniard origin; didn’t the name tip you off??? Spanish Catholics baptized a pagan Holiday by taking what was good and removing what was unChristian, just as they did with other harvest festivals such as Hallowe’en (All Hallows’ Evening); but again, didn’t the name of Halloween tip you off???

    White people, stop feeling guilty and apologizing for bloody history that you took no part in.

    Hispanics who hate white people, white people are your ancestors (didn’t your surnames tip you off???)

    This blog entry is simply that…a blog entry. There is no way something this racist and prejudiced, lacking any scholarly citations, would’ve been published in any respected publication.

  7. Lorn West
    November 1, 2016

    Not all white people are the same, I find it racist that you have accepted this certain stereotype of how “white people” act and think. I honestly could care about you holiday, I ignore the outside world holidays and focus on only the ones that are about my culture.

  8. Ace Amundson
    November 1, 2016

    The holiday of Halloween was appropriated from Celtic , Gallic and Aztec culture both. The pre Christian Irish, Welsh, British honored their dead like the Aztecs their holy holiday was called Samhain. So the face painting was similar to scare away evil spirits and ancestors were honored and people dressed as ancestors and meals were placed in front of them to honor the dead. Children had to guess the ancestor the person was dressed as if right they got a treat if wrong a trick would be played on them. This was the Goddess religion as well so white people did not steal this face painting idea. Christians changed it

  9. Ace Amundson
    November 1, 2016

    Yes as a Celtic Goddess Wiccan I regret the changing of the holiday I use to commune with the Dead. On that I agree.

  10. Barbara Lincoln
    November 1, 2016

    Very short sighted view. At a time when your culture and people have been set upon you should be thankful we “White people” want to celebrate your tradition. Maybe it is not in a way you want but that comes with accepting a culture other than your own. Very sour grapes indeed.

  11. Luis
    November 2, 2016

    What? You’re Puerto Rican. ‘De Leon’ doesn’t sound very “Chican@” to me.

    Where do you get that this is “your” holiday, to boss around others on how they can and can’t appropriate it (just as you yourself have done)? People like you will be calling me naco one day, then telling white people they can’t have your holiday the next… smfh. I mean, I don’t get how you can’t see you are doing the EXACT same thing.

  12. Lukas Drbal
    November 2, 2016

    I think you are attacking all white people for a few idiots in the US or where that bay what you talk about is. This remembeance of our dead loved once have been celebrated in the area of the central Europe since the Kelt time when there was no sign of you Mexicens as the Spanish still did not have even a boat. You come from Europe so don’t forget there is not much of ‘ yours’ as everything was brought from White people from Europe. I see your point and what you trying to say and im very agains even the fact that any European nations went and colonialised your land, but saying ‘ dear white people’ you are accusing my culture too which is not fair.

  13. Who Cares
    November 2, 2016

    I want to know where we draw the line, because Day of the Dead didn’t just spring into existence fully formed one year. It evolved out of someone else’s traditions, traditions that your ancestors most likely changed to suit what they believed in. When do we stop calling people indigenous? Is it just who was here before “white people” came? Because many cultures rose and fell in the Americas. The cultures that existed when the Europeans arrived had done to the cultures that came before what the Europeans eventually did to them. Get off your high horse.

    Also, the people you say don’t want you don’t want your culture either. Maybe your food. And you aren’t even Mexican. Puerto Rico isn’t Mexico anymore than the US is Canada. Finally, if horror movies are white people’s way of dealing with death and that is their culture, better tell all Mexican, Japanese, and all other non-whites to quit appropriating white culture and quit making horror movies.

    • Joel Derfner
      November 2, 2016

      “The cultures that existed when the Europeans arrived had done to the cultures that came before what the Europeans eventually did to them. Get off your high horse.”

      So what you’re saying is that you’re fully aware of the world’s long history of appropriating and destroying culturally significant rituals, and that you are intentionally and actively participating in continuing this.

      • Adam
        November 2, 2016

        Not really.

        Destroying a ritual would be going into Mexico and putting anybody to the sword that practices the ritual, then abeling it a heresy and burning anybody else that makes a sugar skull at the stake.

        Nobody is stopping anybody from practicing their religion however they want to. Painting your face like a skull for Halloween doesn’t destroy anything. Walmart hasn’t wiped out any world religions that I’m aware of.

        Instead, what is happening here is the natural bleeding off of cultures as their people live by each other and mingle. The only way this changes or stops their cultural practices is if they choose to adopt different ones.

  14. Laura
    November 2, 2016

    Here a better idea! If you don’t want us honoring your holiday and learning about it.. GO BACK TO YOUR OWN DAMN COUNTY BITCH! Pagan celebrated day of the dead WAYYY before your damn stupid ass did so stop complaining cause it isn’t JUST your culture!

  15. gloria
    November 2, 2016

    So very proud of you young lady! Words spoken truth ! God bless you! on this journey! Hope to read more of your truths! About our culture!

  16. Brotha Chaz
    November 2, 2016

    Nice one.

  17. Mrs. Jacqueline Muccio
    November 2, 2016

    So very well said and thank you. I watch as this phenomenon takes hold of society and cheapens even the cheap seats. To that end, we did by the Hollywood animated production The Book of Life and love it hoping it brings a true version of your culture to our innocent lives. We want to learn and not bastardize what we do not know. Thank you. Your writ teaches the ignorant. Blessin’s

    • Aliceinaplease
      November 4, 2016

      Oh stop with the explanations and supplications.

  18. What nationality of white ppl
    November 2, 2016

    I find the comment about Halloween insulting the Celtic kind of people who where pegan worshiped on that day it was called Samhain when the dead mingled with the living and the souls of the ppl who died that year traveled into the other world. Ppl sacrificed animals, food and even ppl and lit fires to assist with their journey and keep them away from the living . The Christian missionaries who were no Celtic called them witches and devil worshippers. Pope Gregory the first wanted to convert the pagans so told the missionaries most likely the English kind of white ppl to not burn or kill them for worshiping a tree but to cut it down. However the English white ppls goal was to invade and wash out the Celtic traditions. The Christians assigned an all saints day aka All Hallows’ eve to nov 1 in the 9th century.

  19. What kind of white ppl?? Just like latins there are many types.
    November 2, 2016

    St Patrick’s was a holiday of English white ppl who where Christians celebrating killing and eliminating the Celtic white ppl who where pagans. And ppl go around parting like it was a joke. I find the comment about Halloween insulting the Celtic kind of people who where pegan worshiped on that day it was called Samhain when the dead mingled with the living and the souls of the ppl who died that year traveled into the other world. Ppl sacrificed animals, food and even ppl and lit fires to assist with their journey and keep them away from the living . The Christian missionaries who were no Celtic called them witches and devil worshippers. Pope Gregory the first wanted to convert the pagans so told the missionaries most likely the English kind of white ppl to not burn or kill them for worshiping a tree but to cut it down. However the English white ppls goal was to invade and wash out the Celtic traditions. The Christians assigned an all saints day aka All Hallows’ eve to nov 1 in the 9th century.

  20. What kind of white ppl
    November 2, 2016

    And everyone’s favorite holiday stolen and modified by the church THE VIKING YULE
    The celebration of Yule in Scandinavia predates the Christian holiday by thousands of years

    Winter Solstice, the time of the year when the days get longer and the sun begins to return was truly a cause for celebration among our ancestors in Scandinavia. Their Midwinter Feast lasted at least twelve days. So there are the twelve days of Christmas.

    Most Christmas traditions are rooted deep in ancient Yule rituals, many coming from the Vikings. Historic evidence indicates that Jesus was not born on December 25, but in the Spring. Why is then Christmas celebrated on December 25? A common theory is that the Christian church designated this date as the day of Christ’s birth to coincide with the Nordic Midvinter Solstice celebrations, as well as with a Roman midwinder fest called Saturnalia, in order to “facilitate” the conversion of “heathens” to Christianity.

    At Midwinter, or Solstice, the Vikings honored their Asa Gods with religious rituals and feasting. They sacrificed a wild boar to Frey, the God of fertility and farming, to assure a good growing season in the coming year. The meat was then cooked and eaten at the feast. This is the origin of today’s Christmas ham in Scandinavia.

    During the festivities they burned a giant Sunwheel, which was put on fire and rolled down a hill to entice the Sun to return. According to one theory, this is the origin of the Christmas wreath.

    Another Viking tradition was the Yulelog, a large oak log decorated with sprigs of fir, holly or yew. They carved runes on it, asking the Gods to protect them from misfortune. A piece of the log was saved to protect the home during the coming year and light next year’s fire. Today, most know the Yulelog as a cake or cheese log rolled in nuts.

    Even the Christmas tree goes back to pre-Christian times. The Vikings decorated evergreen trees with pieces of food and clothes, small statues of the Gods, carved runes, etc., to entice the tree spirits to come back in the spring.

    Ancient myths surround the Mistletoe. The Vikings believed it could resurrect the dead, a belief based on a legend about the resurrection of Balder, God of Light and Goodness, who was killed by a mistletoe arrow but resurrected when tears of his mother Frigga turned the red mistletoe berries white.

    The Yule Goat, (Swedish julbock, Finnish joulupukki, Norwegian julebukk) is one of the oldest Scandinavian Christmas symbols. Its origin is the legend about the Thundergod Thor who rode in the sky in a wagon pulled by two goats. An old custom was for young people to dress up in goat skins and go from house to house and sing and perform simple plays. They were rewarded with food and drink. The Yule Goat at one time also brought Yule gifts. This character was later replaced with “jultomten” (Santa Claus).

    Our pre-Christian ancestors would dress up someone to represent Old Man Winter, who was welcomed into homes to join the festivities. Dressed in a hooded fur coat, Father Christmas traveled either by foot or on a giant white horse. Some think that this horse may have been Odin’s horse Sleipnir and that Father Christmas was originally Odin, who was often depicted with a long beard. When the Vikings conquered Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries, he was introduced there and became the English Father Christmas.

    Today, Viking Yule is celebrated in reconstructed Viking Villages such as Foteviken in Skåne and Jörvik in England, where visitors in December can make Christmas decorations with the Vikings, listen to Viking legends and hang their wishes in Odin’s Yule Tree. Viking Yule is also celebrated by Asatruers, who revive the old Nordic religion, called Asatru.

    Of course, our Scandinavian forefathers were not alone in celebrating the Winter Solstice. All over the world, and throughout history, people have celebrated the sun’s return after the winter with a wide diversity of rituals and traditions.

  21. What kind of white ppl
    November 2, 2016

    If we let Walmart take it over so did you. Puerto Ricans are American also, and some have white skin.

  22. Yes white ppl have different ethnicities
    November 2, 2016

    Please be specific on the nationality of all they types of white ppl your including also from what country and time period.

  23. Frank Sleth
    November 2, 2016

    Let’s talk about the origin of halloween.
    Halloween comes from Samhain which is something like a celtic thanks giving, originated on the british isles and has absolutely nothing to do with your indigenous holiday.

    Now next to how you startyour article. “dear white people”
    Already you are dividing yourself from others, by labeling them white or black, you try to set yourself apart from others.
    Why you try to appeal and the at the same divide yourself from the people you are trying to address with is out of my mind.

    So what is this article about?
    Capitalism? Bigotry? Cultural exploitation?
    From what I see, it’s just an angry person spreading hate confusion and bigotry on the internet, and not because he/she wants to hurt someone, but because they don’t know any better.
    So before spreading more hate because of nothing, go to my first paragraph, learn something about Halloween and it’s origins and let everyone have fun with the festival and holydays they want.
    If WHITE people want to cherrish and have fun on the day of the dead they should do so. Just liek black green orange and pink men shoudl also able to. No matter how they choose to do so

  24. ?
    November 2, 2016

    What about us mixed people with white skin??

  25. RM
    November 2, 2016

    This is what is truly wrong with our world. If something is beautiful, right and should be observed, it is for all of us. Not for a select group. We cannot and should not stand or agree with an individual who says a celebration is not to be observed by an individual based on their race. It is this kind of thinking that keeps the walls between groups and the old hatreds and fear of others alive.

    As a white man, I love to experience and share my wife’s culture. And she loves to share in mine. Oktoberfest would no longer seem right if I were not celebrating it with a group of Mexican Americans, or as I like to think of them, my family. And what I would like Aya to understand is they are not out of place celebrating this very German holiday and in doing it in their own way. Just as I am not out of place when I celebrate my wife and children’s traditions and culture.

    I would whole heartily agree with the author if this was an attack on the secularization of a holiday. Something I cannot stand myself. I’m also all for teaching others the importance of the observation. But she did not base her complete column on this argument. Instead she decided she needed address “Dear White People”. I doubt she even realize how this comment sounds. Aya, change that statement to “Dear Hispanic People” and someone who is white telling them how they need to think or act. What is wrong with their culture or how they should not take part in white events. Perhaps you will open our eyes to things you may want to address in your own life. You had a great point and ruined it by bring your own stereotypes regarding people into it. Unless of course you truly do think whites should not participate in this holiday. If that is true, I feel sorry for you. We are (as all people are) for the most part wonderful people and not what you sadly seem to think of us.

    There is nothing better than sharing ourselves and cultures with each other. When we take the best that we all have too offer and use it to bring people together it is a wonderful thing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are not welcome or need to act or think a certain way because of your race. In fact, go to events with people of other races and views than your own. You will be a better person for it.

  26. Yesinia the white Mexican
    November 2, 2016

    Who supplies Walmart?? Please clarify because lumping all people with white skin into one race and culture and then tossing in the word Walmart is a racist pun. Also who uses cheap stuff? My costume cost over a grand and its early 1900s. I’m half German and half Mexican both parents from Mexico. I’m in touch with my roots. If you do a color for people you don’t identify with and then specific ethnicities for cultures you find acceptable please tell us the rest of your history and how the African roots compliment your food and dance along with costumes. That’s what makes Puerto Rico so amazing. Can Africans and Asians celebrate with you also?

  27. james comey
    November 2, 2016

    Shut up and take it like a good mejicana, k?

  28. Jay
    November 2, 2016

    Dear White People,

    Boo-hoo, I cry about everything. Boo-hoo. Shut the fuck up. No one who was an invader in 1492 is alive today. I’m not going to feel bad for something they did that I did not partake in. I understand what you’re saying about people celebrating something that is your culture, who also shun what’s actually happening, but holy shit stop with your, “Dear White People” garbage. You’re telling me there isn’t blacks or Asians doing the same or it doesn’t apply to them because they aren’t white? Oh, it’s because they weren’t an invader. Weirdly enough, so weren’t the white people alive today. Fuck off and cry somewhere else; same for the white guilted folks.

  29. Jack Mehoff
    November 2, 2016

    Sensitive little flower. The hipsters are commiting a microaggression massacre against my culture! Save me!

  30. Jason Jehosephat
    November 2, 2016

    Point taken, but then, is it OK for a woman from Puerto Rico to colonize “indigenous holiday from Mexico”? While in the demographic nomenclature of our time, people of Spanish ancestry in all the countries of the Americas are considered to be both “Hispanic” and “Latin@” (I will willingly concede the @, though I haven’t the foggiest notion how to pronounce it), that means in view of the ability of people to colonize other the lands or otherwise dominate other peoples of the same broader ethnicity that they belong to. Look at European powers taking over each other’s lands century after century after century for an example. So why would a woman from Puerto Rico be right to consider it appropriate for her to participate in an observance that is NOT from her own ancestry that she shares with Mexicans, but whose origins lie entirely within Mexico?

  31. cityprole
    November 2, 2016

    I grew up in California, and I loved all the arts that were devoted to the Dia..I would never seek to intrude on the spiritual aspects of it, but like all of those whose culture is richer than ours, you expect us to keep away, while you celebrate all N. American holidays, each in their own way..I have no problem with this..being of Irish extraction, among others, I prefer the Winter solstice, etc. the Pagan Germanic fir tree that symbolizes the everlasting nature of life (and was adopted by Christians mostly because Queen Victoria of England married a German, Price Albert, who introduced the tree to their celebrations..) and so many other pagan symbols, mostly European in origin, have been subsumed in the rituals of our lives….no complaints registered…
    For me, the flowered sugar skulls are a wonderful symbol celebrating life, not death, since we all have one…and I wear skull illustrations and incorporate them into my work, with no intention of exploiting the Dia’s cultural tropes…
    I hope that you can find it in your heart to recognize that people aren’t necessarily trying to take over or change your rites, or denigrate ancestor worship, but, just like the Latinos did, with the blending of both indigenous and Christian culture, to incorporate some of your symbology into their own celebrations…

    • Jay
      November 3, 2016

      Nice and well communicated, thank you.
      …a “white-people” person~

  32. hands4design
    November 3, 2016

    It is best to just leave all these indigenous people alone and get into your own thing from one of your own blood lines or something you create with no references to the indigenous. Many times they’ve said it hurts them and they want white people to leave them alone. If you are white it is best to turn your attention and interests elsewhere.

    • Yesinia
      November 3, 2016

      I am white skinned but Mexican I will not leave my family alone ever!!!

    • Aliceinaplease
      November 4, 2016

      Umm no. We are free to celebrate in any way we wish. There is no appropriation. You need to review the definifion, dear.

  33. ByinBy
    November 3, 2016

    Whiteness vs White people. There is a fine line and often the line is blurred because the people that whiteness typically manifest in are white people expressing racist macro and micro-aggressive behaviors. Hate the game and the player but mostly the game.

  34. ByinBy
    November 3, 2016

    This shit is so deeply systemic, targeting individuals that display whiteness for their ignorance makes us people of color fall into the stereotypes that have already been placed on us the second we act as we exist but at the same time if individuals that exhibit whiteness are ignorant it is not the job of POC to educate if they do not want to. Ignorance is not an excuse but also patience is something that POC have long been taught and carry out into the world. Those who walk this world with privilege cannot begin to understand the amount of tolerance we have grown and conditioned to have. These little spurts of speech and expression are only the beginning, only the surface. We are educated, we are not afraid. Start to learn that the land you are on is not yours, it may not even be mine. But know that one person can only take up so much space to take a step back and listen to understand instead of listening to reply.

    • The white Mexican
      November 3, 2016

      My skin is white but I’m Mexican. My husband is German but his skin is brownish should he hate me for being white??

    • El pero
      November 3, 2016

      At the end of the American Civil War in 1865, the United States (which had been too distracted by its own civil war to confront the Europeans’ 1861 invasion of what it considered to be its sphere of influence) began more explicit aid of President Juárez’s forces. Matters worsened for Maximilian after the French armies withdrew from Mexico in 1866. His self-declared empire collapsed, and he was captured and executed by the Mexican government in 1867.

    • Real Mexican of non African decendant who loves African influences
      November 3, 2016

      other Afro-Latin American and Afro-Caribbean ethnic groups
      The history of Puerto Ricans of African descent begins with free African men, known as libertos, who accompanied the Spanish Conquistadors in the invasion of the island.[2] The Spaniards enslaved the Taínos (the native inhabitants of the island), many of whom died as a result of new infectious diseases and the Spaniards’ oppressive colonization efforts. Spain’s royal government needed laborers and began to rely on slavery to staff their mining and fort-building operations. The Crown authorized importing enslaved West Africans. As a result, the majority of the African peoples who entered Puerto Rico were part of the forced migration of the Atlantic slave trade, and came from many different cultures and peoples of the African continent.

      When the gold mines in Puerto Rico were declared depleted, the Spanish Crown no longer considered the island to be a high colonial priority. Its chief ports served primarily as a garrison to support naval vessels. The Spaniards encouraged free people of color from British and French possessions in the Caribbean to emigrate to Puerto Rico, to provide a population base to support the Puerto Rican garrison. The Spanish decree of 1789 allowed slaves to earn or buy their freedom; however, this did little to help their situation. The expansion of sugar cane plantations drove up demand for labor and the slave population increased dramatically as new slaves were imported. Throughout the years, there were many slave revolts in the island. Slaves who were promised their freedom joined the 1868 uprising against Spanish colonial rule in what is known as the “Grito de Lares”. On March 22, 1873, slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico. The contributions of ethnic Africans to the music, art, language, and heritage have been instrumental

    • White
      November 4, 2016

      We whites are educated and not quiet either. Bring it. Our privilege lies within the fact that we evolved and became civilized. We explored and conquered. We brought you backwards POC into the modern world. You see evolution as privilege and you cry about it instead of evolving. #whinybitches

  35. Derek
    November 3, 2016

    Interesting point of view. Perhaps this argument would be more effective if directed at major cultural centers, such as cities like New Orleans or LA, rather than white people in general. In my time spent in such places, I’ve observed just as many Asians, Africans, Arabs, and other “cultural minorities” fully partaking in these celebrations that you are upset about some whites embracing. I would suggest directing your argument everyone who is unjustly celebrating el Dia de Los Muertos, rather than just a single skin color… That is assuming that it is equally as problematic when people
    of other other skin colors do what you are upset about some whites doing.

    Truth is that many of us white folk are actually more than willing to put our own bodies on the line to protect you, and your cultural heritage. We respect it and value cultural diversity. While the imagery of el Dia de low Muertos is alluring, we do not participate. Why not? For the same reason Jewish people don’t celebrate Christmas. Overlooking such things does none of us any favors.

  36. Twoshits
    November 3, 2016

    No one gives two shits.

    • Tee
      November 3, 2016

      Then why did you read this and why did it compel you to be rude? You must care to some degree. Otherwise dont bother to make comments

      • Aliceinaplease
        November 4, 2016

        The original post was so very racist. You should focus your comments on that FACT.

  37. Kathryn O'Connor
    November 4, 2016

    WHite people do have their own spiritual culture that was suppresed such as Celtic
    and yes, we honored our departed on a similar night that became Halloween. so stop acting like our culture is a wasteland. Catholics will oppress everyone and anyone

    • Evangeline V
      November 4, 2016

      Catholics aren’t oppressing anyone. Repurposing Druid celebrations happened so very long ago. You need to get over it, lmao

  38. lolo
    November 4, 2016

    Im a white woman. Born and raised in Texas. When i was little i lived with a Salvadoran family for years. I ONLY spoke spanish and was completely immersed in their culture. I still love hispanic cultures, i feel incredably tied to them. My point is that when i wear dia de los muertos paint it is with extreme love and respect. I know this article made a point to point out that not all white people are the same (thank you, its not often thats said anymore) i jist wanted to tell my little story to remind everyone that you never know where someones coming from and not to judge based on race, its not rite in any way

    • Salvadoran_Faimly
      December 16, 2016

      You say you were born and raised in Texas, but didn’t mention you moved to El Salvador because you have to live in El Salvador to be Salvadoran? Because a Salvadoran is citizenship not race or ethnicity.

      • Matthew Rothenberg
        December 16, 2016

        Uhhhh … There are Salvadoran citizens living in Texas. Why would she need to go to El Salvador?

  39. White Woman
    November 6, 2016

    When I was a child in the 1950’s, in the northern USA, some kids always dressed ,among other things, as skeletons for Halloween and we had never heard of your most sacred Day of the Dead.
    Here’s an idea; you do what you do, celebrate what you want, and let others do the same without your fussy racist whining.

  40. Miguel Ballestros
    November 7, 2016

    Please stop referring to yourself using words appropriated from the native peoples of Latium. It’s offensive.

  41. Jeremy
    November 19, 2016

    This is a truly disgusting piece of writing. You should honestly be ashamed of yourself and I feel sorry that your children will be raised in by this viewpoint.

  42. Pingback: Cultural Appropriation: Holidays

  43. W
    January 10, 2017

    Haha. This broad is funny. So many people batching about nonsense. No wonder why this generation is screwed. The Internet has given voice to idiots

  44. Jessica
    February 14, 2017

    Its called Halloween…STUPID!

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This entry was posted on October 31, 2014 by in Uncategorized.

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