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.


1,755 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. Carley
    June 13, 2017

    Would it be wrong for me to celebrate Día de los Muertos? I’m white but feel a special connection to the holiday because it is my birthday.

    • isaiah cruz
      June 15, 2017

      Is that the only reason, because it is your birthday? Have a birthday party. If you want to celebrate this great Mexican holiday, celebrate it to honor the dead.

      • Alice
        June 16, 2017

        Isaiah Cruz, she shouldn’t have even asked. Its her right to do WHATEVER she wants re this celebration. It is so not your place to comment!

      • Lane Jasper
        October 31, 2017

        Not what he said at all….relax…this whole story has many flaws in it about the origin which I have no time to get.i to but y’all need to relax….no one is stealing Dia De Los Muertos from anyone. What a ridiculous comment.

    • Lane Jasper
      October 31, 2017

      HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Mine is also November 1st. (born 1969) I have a special affinity for both of the hudays. 🙂

      • Lane Jasper
        October 31, 2017


  2. V
    July 30, 2017

    Dear Other Minority,
    Please stop speaking for minority groups to which you don’t belong. You even told us yourself that you are Puerto Rican, so why are you talking for Mexicans? Maybe stay in your lane?

    • Alex
      July 30, 2017

      Ha! Nice one.

    • Char
      October 25, 2017

      Research Puerto Rico! Many Puerto Ricans have blended ancestry from the indigenous Taino, Spaniards, and Africans. The Taino were MesoAmericans and thus are related to the Aztecs, and the Day of the Dead traditions are a blend of the Spanish Catholic Holy Days of All Souls Eve and All Saints Day blended with indigenous traditions of severing ancestors. The author has every right to speak her piece and proclaim her valid cultural ties to the day!

      • latinchef
        October 29, 2017

        The Taino were Arawakan. The slave classes they lorded over were the indigenous people that were already in the Caribe were Yucatec Mayan…not Aztec.

    • Karen
      November 3, 2017

      This is a divisive article. To equate hipsters with DdlM and the people who come to celebrate it is wrong. You are making the problem worse. You risk aleniating your supporters with your article and it is short sited. Lame.

  3. Shannon
    August 4, 2017

    Mexican Music Style Influenced by German. Music from the northern part of Mexico, norteño, meaning “northern,” or música norteña, “northern music,” was influenced by German settlers in Texas around 1830. It is no coincidence that some types of Mexican music have the German polka “oom-pah-pah” influence.

  4. Matthew Giebel
    August 5, 2017

    I’m not sure why the rest of us whites don’t just revive our own ancestor veneration practices. Of course first they would need to know we once had them, and that would lead to the horrible truth. We were so much more than we are. I, for one, am walking back to pick up what we dropped.

  5. ollielockwood
    September 4, 2017

    Thank you for this. I’ve been researching day of the dead in hopes of finding a way I can appreciate it without being appropriative and gross about it. I hate Halloween it has never felt right for me, I much preferred celebrating Fasching when I lived in Germany (dressing up in February its very bright color not horror oriented) and since my religion is very connected to those who have passed I don’t like the way they are portrayed with horror. I am trying to find my own way to celebrate that honors what I believe but also isn’t stealing from cultures that don’t belong to me. It’s weird cause not many cultures do belong to me because I grew up a ‘third culture kid’ so I’m pretty much a foreigner every where. I’m rambling but anyway I really appreciate this article, thank you for writing it.

  6. ollielockwood
    September 4, 2017

    Also oh my god I am so sorry for some/most of these comments. Ugh hate people.

    • Valice
      September 30, 2017

      Thank you Caffeine.Ollielockwood know who the despicable person is? The author. Suck that up buttercup

  7. Patience
    September 29, 2017

    I find this to be a really compassionate explanation of how and why appropriation occurrs. I am surprised, but I guess I shouldnt be, at the very defensive comments here. The author talks about how its understandable why white people gravitate toward Dia De Los Muertos, but then explains why its appropriation and why people should stop copying it. And THEN she even goes so far as to encourage people to find their own cultural heritage to celebrate and urges people to discover how colonialism and capitalism have made so many traditions shallow and divorced from their original meaning. I found the whole article very patient and accommodating. Those who are freaking out thinking she is pointing fingers and being rude need to re read this and imagine a very kind teacher talking to you, instead of making this author’s voice into an accusing enemy. Also, one shouldnt have to be of Mexican descent to care about appropriation. Racism is racism is racism. We should all care about that. It affects us all.

    • caffeinejones
      September 29, 2017

      Really? I find this article a lot of patronizing bullshit. The author offers her view of why anglos might be attracted to the Day of the Dead, without considering perhaps that she has it entirely wrong. Let’s put aside the fact that she is defending a culture that is not hers and just take a look at the reasons she gives for Europeans to be drawn to it in the first place. Oh, we poor Europeans! We cannot accept the reality of death! Our culture is barren of anything which would give meaning to our mortality! A good thing those good and loving Mexicans welcome us into their arms (even if the explanation is being offered by a Puerto Rican.)

      Sorry, but this is bullshit. I love Mexican people. I love the ones in my neighborhood. I make a point of dropping into their parish festival every year even though I do not understand the language. But I do not think they are offering some unique understanding of the afterlife that somehow eluded my European ancestors. Actually, I have noticed many of them essentially merging Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos, adding white face paint to their Halloween costumes. My own church sets up an altar of remembrance during the month of November, when the church traditionally remembers our deceased loved ones. The month begins with the Feast of All Saints and the Feast of All Souls. Thanks. We get it. The fact that our Mexican neighbors have found a traditional way to express this connection is beautiful. But they did not invent it for us.

      Of course, like just about anything, the holiday can be exploited. Remember Christmas? Anybody think Jesus rose from the dead to give little kids a sugar rush?But think for a minute. Do bars really have to come up with a new theme to celebrate Halloween? There are plenty of people willing to dress in costumes and drink orange beer. If bars are pitching Dia De Los Muertos, they are probably doing it to people who are already familiar with the holiday, namely the people the loving author feels are being exploited.

      The author is not being loving. She is being condescending, offering a morality lecture to people she clearly feels are her cultural inferiors. That’s not what loving is about.

      • Tomas Raphael Brunet
        October 19, 2017


        She isnt even mexican

      • Melanie Ryan
        October 25, 2017

        Well said Caffeine! I resonate with Dia de Los Muertos as an uplifting appreciation for our ancestors who are in spirit form and the chains that confine and separate living human’s by the color of their skin or a diversified culture are broken . What I thank the Mexican culture for is the blessed and colorful template they created to honor the spirits of their dead ancestors.

    • Lane Jasper
      October 31, 2017

      this story is very patronizing you have it all wrong, she should appreciate the fact that people take part in her culture and no one is trying to steal it from them whatsoever or any of the other ridiculous comments that were made by the author, it should be taken as a form of flattery and yes she does sound very accusatory, this whole story is ridiculous

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  9. Jamie Bishop
    October 17, 2017

    I feel what you say deep in my soul,this was done of my native American culture too. They came,they saw,they tried to conquer but now make a profit of what little of my people survived. It makes me sick in my soul

  10. Tomas Raphael Brunet
    October 19, 2017

    Oh stop your bullshit. You’re not even Mexican. Que pendeja. Get off your high horse, you racist bitch. America is made up of the mixing of cultures for centuries. Melting pot.

    Vete a la mierda, puta desagraciado.

    • Dana Banana (@vivala)
      October 22, 2017

      You can’t even speak Spanish, dude. No puedes usar dos adjetivos para una misma persona y poner el primero en femenino y el segundo en masculino. Ese error solo lo cometería un pendejo usando google translate. Aya’s post was spot on.

      • Modern Sex Culture
        October 29, 2017

        Hahahaha! .. That’s.. hilarious. 😀

      • davidinkeene
        October 30, 2017

        it IS NOT “SPOT ON” A TO SAY “DEAR WHITE PEOPLE” it is doing the exact thing you are condemning ;in one short sentence….. she cares more about having “political correct” and being right …lol…it’s stupid, particularly with her being part white

  11. karolyn
    October 19, 2017

    Thank you for speaking up!

  12. Kristine
    October 22, 2017

    Thoughtfully written!

  13. Joseph Delaney
    October 23, 2017

    I understand you have to make a point, and it is hard to say it in any other way. Not all white People are bad. It’s a stereotype. There is good and bad in every race, every nationality, every country. I agree that the “settlers “ are responsible for a majority of the Indigenous issues. I am an ally. Stereotyping is wrong in anyway. Don’t stoop to their level. Please keep fighting the good fight!

    • Alice
      October 24, 2017

      Lol there is nothing appropriate, educated or correct about her post. It’s simply hideously racist.

      • Juan
        October 24, 2017

        Divide and conquer that’s how you people roll kiss my brown ass💋

      • Valice
        October 26, 2017

        Yeah you really helped your case there, Juan. Lmao

  14. snickers
    October 23, 2017

    Being ‘latin@’ doesn’t make a definitely Mexican holiday your culture, Aya.
    It is not a Puerto Rican holiday. Puerto Rico isn’t even anywhere geographically close, nor does the island historically celebrate the day. The fact that you’re blatantly appropriating this Holiday yourself while trying to gatekeep others from doing so is really transparently hypocritical.
    There is a lot of real value and culture to the holiday, but you’ve taken it for your own and used it to push your blog traffic and aggrandize yourself.

  15. Justin
    October 24, 2017

    I appreciate your frustration, especially given the state of the world today and the treatment of minorities in the United States under the current administration. But telling other racial groups that they cannot participate in your cultural event is hurting, not helping. If there is misappropriation, if there is misinterpretation, if there is miseducation, then let your frustration be channeled into helping the white majority see those errors, rather than trying to further increase the divide. While white culture owes you and all oppressed minorities much more than merely respectfully enjoying your holiday, what you have described above is not making the world a better place. America is a place where cultures come together. It’s a melting pot. We have countless cultures here, and our nation is at its best when we are all ambassadors for our unique heritages. Should Germans tell you not to celebrate Oktoberfest, because you don’t appreciate the history of it? Should Irish tell you to stay home on St. Patrick’s Day, because you don’t share their lineage? I don’t believe in God – am I not allowed to exchange presents with my family on Christmas Day any more? There is a fine line between respecting the past and becoming enslaved to it. Let’s honor our traditions while also recognizing that the future is one where all of our traditions are going to continue to be ever more intermingled. As a world we need less barriers between each other, not more.

    • msmaggie
      October 25, 2017

      The author didn’t tell white people we couldn’t participate. In fact, she invited us to find authentic celebrations and be “a guest at the table.” What she asked us not to do is take the face paint and leave the people.

      And yes, using other cultures’ holidays as dressing isn’t celebrating them, and we shouldn’t do it. If you go to the German-American beer hall and take part in an Oktoberfest celebration put on by people celebrating their heritage, wonderful. But using it as a way to sell 2-for-1 pints is cheap and demeaning.

  16. Darell
    October 25, 2017

    Wasteful of your breath, you spout nothing but racist dribble. Your complaint is directed towards white people. Why? It’s commercialism that is robbing your culture of it’s value, not race. Mexican businesses are as guilty of culture hijacking as any other business anywhere else in the world. And chances are, non-whites are running some of those businesses. The commercialism of Diá de Muertos is no different to the commercialism of any other cultural celebration in any way shape of form. It’s most certainly NOT a racist issue, but a commercial issue pertaining to GREED. So….WHY did you direct this towards all white people when you know nothing of all of us. You don’t know me. You don’t tell me that the commercialism of the Latin culture is my fault! You deserve a slap to the back of your head and should apologize for the racist tone of your “article”. You made yourself no better than the racist filth you might come across in your travels. Shame on you!

  17. lapocha
    October 25, 2017

    When lines are crossed from respectful solidarity with the community & spirit of ancient rituals to a superficial representation devoid of that community, then no, it’s not okay. Y, sí, tengo el derecho de afirmar lo nuestro y despreciar la apropiación de nuestros símbolos sin saber ni un comino de ellos, y jamás levantado un dedo por nosotros.

    • Valice
      October 26, 2017

      Your entire post is ridiculous. Yeah I know what you said.

  18. AnneMarie
    October 26, 2017


    I don’t celebrate or participate in it. It’s not in my lane.
    On the other hand, this ritual is not solely done in Mexico, I think it has roots in more cultures.

    • Felissa Mata
      November 19, 2017

      Dia de los Muertos originates from pre-columbian rites and traditions practice by Aztecs, Maya-Quiché, Toltecs, Purépechas, Olmecas, Zapotecas, Tlaxcaltecas, and the Mixtecas, all of México, the Yucatán Peninsula and parts of Central América. When Mexico was colonized and Catholic clergy arrived they were obsessed with converting and evangelizing the “heathen” the natives. Much like Christmas which merged tradition and rights from the Pagan winter solstice celebration…the church eventually had to succumb to the idea of having to absorb these traditions into their newly founded society.

      As a Mexican American Woman, I have friends of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds… And I love sharing my Mexican heritage and culture with them, part of that is knowing that this is more then an opportunity to paint your face and party. Anytime something that is significant to a particular culture or ethnicity is appropriated, to the point where it no longer has any ties to its original roots, it becomes shallow. I don’t think anybody needs to be excluded from celebrating this day, I just think that the commercialization, and the (for lack of a better term) whitewashing of this day of remembrance of loved ones we have lost, of embracing aspects of our rites and traditions into an opportunity to just throw a party is what upsets me. This year in Phoenix Arizona there was a huge conflict over a Dia de los Muertos celebration that was being held at a cemetery. There were some people that thought that this was disrespectful. I think the reason behind that is because the other los Muertos has become so gentrified that people don’t realize that the whole point behind the DDLM is to spend the day with those loved ones that aren’t with us anymore. This is my point of view and how I feel. I don’t expect everyone or even anyone to share my opinion. But understanding doesn’t mean we are in agreement, or that we share the same view. It just means that we respect each other’s views.

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  20. Tony Robles
    October 27, 2017

    Definition: White people celebrating Dia De Los Muertos

    • Valice
      October 27, 2017

      Racist post. Shocker. You don’t know jack.

    • Karen
      November 3, 2017

      @Tony Robles…Halloween has been around for 1000 yrs, & Dia De Los Muertos is only 500 yrs old. Whoops.

  21. Ostana
    October 28, 2017

    In the interest of bringing an end to the horror known as cultural appropriation I’m going to have to insist that non-Pagans immediately stop doing the following: putting up a “Christmas” tree, eating yule logs, hanging mistletoe, decorating with evergreen boughs, insisting that an elf came down your non-existant chimneys, letting a rodent tell you how much of winter remains, moving around the date your messiah was killed based on the moon’s phases, decorating your spring holiday with fertility symbols, engaging in May Pole rituals, and in general, celebrating Halloween in so many misguided and superficial ways. After all we can’t have people learning about other cultures, finding common ground, and widening their world view.

  22. Liz
    October 28, 2017

    Yes, crass marketing is indeed offensive. Rest assured that we do want you and everyone else who that is a kind and loving person.

  23. Xina Marie Uhl
    October 29, 2017

    You can appreciate and enjoy another culture’s practices, foods, and approach to life in a way that is not sneering, disrespectful, and evil. Do you eat Mexican food? I do and I love it. I’m white. I’m not taking on Mexican identity because I enjoy something that is freely, joyfully shared for an economic advantage. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life while remembering the dead and acknowledging that we will all be dead ourselves sooner or later. Life is transitory. Let’s enjoy it regardless of that.

    If we are all to segregate ourselves into those boxes that we are authentically, genetically a part of we will have a world with more borders, more differences, more suspicions, more wars. Yes, by widening the scope and audience of festivals like this you dilute its traditional importance. By going wide you go shallow too.

  24. Maxwell Hamilton
    October 29, 2017

    I grew up in Los Angeles. I went to Catholic school. This was a big holiday for so many of my friends. My parents and I always felt honored when friends invited us along. Certainly after a few times it was something I thought of as a “must have” and looked forward to. We would order skull shaped candy, flowers and bakery goods a head of time to bring to our host & hostess. Even now, 30 years later and half a country away, I miss it for my child. But I can’t imagine celebrating or arranging it without my Mexican American friends( yes, I mean my friends in particular) as my guides. I am sorry this is being taken from you. It is weird. I understand people doing it. But it is weird. Unlike wearing green on St Pats or having a French party and dressing lika a mime with a baguette, this is not just a festival to play dress up. It is a cultural and religious day. The spiritual element is more important than the candy. That is why, even when I miss it, I don’t try to recreate it. I will wait and take my son when we are invited.
    My best to you and yours.

  25. Keebs
    October 29, 2017

    People just find anything and everything to cry about. Makes for good lols though! I’m about to paint my face up like that with my gringo ass!

  26. davidinkeene
    October 29, 2017

    saying “dear white people” is bigoted and racist… so in your zeal of …whatever, you re being a complete hypocrite

  27. davidinkeene
    October 29, 2017

    also, you have some white in you…so …

  28. Tully
    October 30, 2017

    Holy shit, this is racist. This author has clearly never read Tennyson’s In Memoriam, or anything by Emily Dickinson.

  29. Marcelo Vigo
    October 30, 2017

    While I do agree that the way that Dia de Muertos is co-opted in the US is a form a cultural appropriation…..the writer needs to research her points before she makes them. Dia de Muertos is NOT an indigenous holiday and never was. It is in fact a tradition imported by the colonizers themselves….the Spanish (catholics).


  30. John Ballman
    October 30, 2017

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” Oscar Wilde. I guess that is lost on you.
    First “Dear White People, you want our Culture, but don’t want us” Really. Can you prove beyond a shadow of doubt, that it is only White people who are celebrating this Holiday. This celebration was not hijacked from some native land, it was brought here by the many good people who came here over the years.
    Your also conveniently minimizing “All Saints/All Souls day” coupled with Halloween to suit your argument that celebrate the connection with the living and the dead as well. Most of these Holidays/Celebrations are all related so please don’t lecture other cultures for encroachment. I’m not Professor Robert Langdon, but you get the point.
    By taking the high road of being so offended, is another example of Creeping PC Culture running rampant. What happened to tolerance to the intolerant. Taking your example further, I’m from Cincinnati, Love the Reds, wear the hat, my friend Ray Gomez loves the Reds too, oh, but wait. your not from Cincinnati, I’m so offended!!!!
    Sounds ridiculous, maybe. One person’s religion is one thing, Baseball could be someone else’s.
    We should be embracing all these other cultures. E Pluribus Unum, out of many, one.
    You taught at UC Berkeley, home of free speech. That is what the first amendment is all about. Freedom of speech and expression are being trampled on by this PC Culture. I am totally against being disrespectful to other cultures, but the 1st amendment allows people to be different. Lets not forget the ACLU defended the Neo-Nazi group’s right to march in Skokie IL, a predominantly Jewish town back in the 70’s. Was it their right, yes, was it disrespectful, yes. Welcome to the United States of America. Use to be that by simply ignoring those idiots the message doesn’t get out. Now, it is a different, so IMHO, people need to choose their words carefully. Don’t be busting out the big guns calling people racist, misogynistic, homophobic to win an argument. Assigning names like that on a continual basis minimizes the meaning of those words till they don’t hold their value.
    This is just another example of lowering the bar of racism so low that one can’t help but trip over it. This has nothing to do with not wanting your culture here. The US is struggling with the influx of Illegal immigration and how to humanely deal with it. Maybe you should ask yourself “what can we do as a Mexican Nation do, to encourage our people to stay and contribute to our great nation of Mexico, instead of running for the border. It’s an issue that no one is talking about from my perspective.
    Sorry, I agree to disagree.
    J. Ballman

    • Julio
      October 31, 2017

      Hey there John,

      First of all, she is not Mexican so you can not talk to her about ilegal immigration because she has no idea of what that is like, second of all, the number of Mexican ilegal immigrants is at an historic low. You are right, we are a great nation and you know what? WE REALLY APPRECIATE Americans (talking about people of course, because we really hate Trump), don’t get yourself confused by a not mexican getting ofended by how our traditions are bien replicated in your country because we love the fact that people all over the world get interested in our culture. we love the fact that Pixar has created a movie about the backbone of our identity. and please take this as an invitation to our country, to get to know more about us so you can understand that the Mexicans that do not cross the border illegally, are the mexicans that truly love Mexico and we are working our asses off to create a better country from the ashes of corruption.

      Excuse my broken english, but honestly. if you or any other American find Día de Muertos interesting feel free to take part of it, celebrate as we always do, get drunk if you want to but the point of it is to celebrate life thru death, honor your ancestors all those who passed away by remembering them with joy, not sadness. thats why this holiday is so colorful and cheerful, because its about being alive!

      • Caffeine Jones
        October 31, 2017

        God bless Mexico and the Mexican people, regardless of which side of the border they are on,

  31. Jeremy wilson
    October 31, 2017

    Day of the dead is not indigenous
    It’s Hispanic
    A colonizing culture

  32. John Lundin
    October 31, 2017

    It is racist for Hispanics to refer to me as a “white person”… my ethnic background is Swedish and Italian… Hispanics are not an indigenous people… they are a mixture of Spainish and indigenous… also “Day of the Dead” is the same as Halloween… a 500 year old European tradition

    • Julio
      October 31, 2017

      Yep, calling you a white person without acknowledging your ethnic background is racist . You are right, we are the mixture between indigenous and spaniards mostly. And no, Día de Muertos has nothing to do with Halloween, but you know what? dude we don’t give a fuck if you are “white people”, red, black, asian.. if you feel attracted to our culture and traditions feel free to take part on it, I’m Mexican, born and raised and we love the fact that people from other countries get interested in our traditions.

      Honestly, there is no such thing as an outrage in our country by how you might be replicating our traditions, as I said before, we appreciate the attention our tradition gets and we welcome you to take part on it as many times as you want. don’t get the wrong idea from someone who is not even Mexican.

      Respectfully: a Mexican who lives in Mexico and will celebrate Halloween today.

  33. mayamade
    October 31, 2017

    Reblogged this on mayamadeblog.

  34. Linda Rio
    November 1, 2017

    Of course it could be said that the Mexicans appropriated All Souls day from the conquistadors as a survival mechanism for their own traditions for honouring the dead. Christianity was imposed, even so, cultural appropriation can work both ways in power relationships, draping ones own culture in that of the coloniser and continuing with beliefs from before – as far as possible. Regla de Ocha / Santeria is another example, Yoruba beliefs continue wrapped in the clothes of Christian saints.

  35. NK
    November 1, 2017

    I just don’t see this issue as an actual issue because it runs contrary to everything we know and understand about the very nature of human culture. It is nothing but appropriation, basically. An endless and complex series of exchanges between cultures that continues today. Is it always tasteful or welcomed? No. But that’s never stopped it in the past, the fact of it offending somebody, and it won’t now.

    My suggestion is that you worry less about the borrowing of cultural symbols and more about the systemic racism going on or the class warfare being waged against the poor. Those issues are the result of identifiable policies enacted by the government and they can be changed for the better, whereas cultural appropriation is an inherent aspect of culture itself and it cannot be separated out from it.

    It is the actual origin of most cultural practices.

    Even the very holiday that we are discussing here was the result of cultural appropriation and blending. Dia De Los Muertos was an Aztec holiday appropriated by the Catholic Spaniards. It was merged with All-Saints day to make it Christian.

    The skulls themselves were first made by ITALIAN Catholic missionaries.

    That’s just how culture works and what culture is and the modern day obsession with identity politics and walling off cultures from each other is about as Sisyphean a task as one could come up with, it’s like getting angry at the sun rising or the Earth rotating. Whatever your beef is with it, you’re not going to win.

    Also, “DEAR WHITE PEOPLE” is an obnoxious and offensive thing to open with. It presumes that all white people have the same traits, opinions, and behaviors and that our individuality or the various cultures where “White People” supposedly hail from have any differences between them worth noting. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of racism that “White People” have historically been guilty of and to engage in such pettiness doesn’t do anything to end white supremacy, it actually reinforces it, just like trying to wall off white people from identifying with or participating in other groups cultural practices will inevitably be isolating and alienating and will therefore reinforce white supremacy by making “white people” feel like they’ve got to defend that system or else fall victim to a new one that is the same thing with the roles reversed. Is that likely to happen in the future? Nope. But that won’t stop people from feeling paranoid about it and engaging in reactionary behavior as a result.

    And basically …. Don’t call me white. White presupposes that everyone with pale skin is part of some evil oppressive conspiracy together and that we like the shit situation our ancestors handed down to us. I don’t self-identify as white, so why should I let you call me that, especially if I’m a person who is wiling to accord you the measure of respect in this area which you are due as a fellow human being? If I started an article out with DEAR BLACK PEOPLE that wouldn’t go over well and it shouldn’t go over well. I’d rightly be castigated for it. It’s bullshit and you’re intelligent enough to know that it is, so you’re just using that line to patronize and denigrate a group of people based on their race. And that’s moving things in the wrong direction entirely. So cut that shit out, please.

  36. Acid
    November 1, 2017

    Samhain has been going a whole lot longer than any ‘day of the dead’.
    Pagans have been honouring and remembering their deceased ancestors at this time for thousands of years and long before The Spanish colonised Mexico and the Dia de los muerto was started by those colonists. The fact that you call yourselves Latino/Latinas instead of Mayan or Incas tells you all you fakers need to know.

  37. lois
    November 1, 2017

    “Dear White People” ? Really? Ironic racism

  38. mexika.org
    November 2, 2017

    Anyone else think it’s ironic that a black Puerto Rican is talking about “colonizing” a Mexican tradition as if it’s her tradition to defend? *rolls eyes*

  39. Pingback: “Latino” identity is COLONIZATION – [ mexika.org ]

  40. Chris Harris
    November 2, 2017

    The factual basis of this article also appears to be wildly inaccurate and a lie of Donald Trump portion. “The article states: 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.” The CEO of the host organization, Chris Iglesias, CEO of The Unity Council, appears to be Latin, as are a total of 6 of the 7 member board. There most definitely was Latin artist participation. The art contest winner is Leslie Lopez, a Xicana Graffiti Writer, educator, and first generation Mexican-American, who is active in the Xicana Movement. So this blog is worthless. https://unitycouncil.org/2017/08/meet-the-winner-of-the-dia-poster-art-contest/

  41. Karen
    November 3, 2017

    This is a divisive article. To equate hipsters with DdlM and the people who come to celebrate it is wrong. You are making the problem worse. You risk aleniating your supporters with your article and it is short sited. Lame.

  42. Pingback: Kelly Tellez, Blog #1 – ELLA Fellows 2017-2018

  43. Gabriel Munoz
    December 19, 2017

    You’re not even Mexican so don’t speak for us or our culture…. you’re calling gringos out for appropriating a culture and then you proceed to do the same… the hypocrisy is cringey.

  44. Pingback: Writing and cultural appropriation

  45. Emphatically Speaking
    January 11, 2018

    Dia de los Muertos is my favorite holiday. I am not Mexican. While I’ve not had a genetics test to be sure, I don’t believe I have any Hispanic or Latino ancestors. Why should it matter? El Dia is a holiday to celebrate loved ones who’ve passed away. Am I not allowed to decorate with cempaspuchitl? Should I not build an ofrenda? Should I not see the beauty of Calavera Catrinas and want to share them with people around me and teach them a bit about a culture different than their own?

    I had a huge display in my office from the middle of October through the last week of December (hey… I said its my favorite Holiday…) and every time someone called it Halloween, I took it as a chance to teach them what El Dia is, why it is celebrated, that no, it is NOT “just Mexican Halloween” and as I type this, it is January 11th…and my sugar skull garland is still hanging across my office ceiling, and it won’t be taken down.

    I can understand and fully agree with being angry that some people claim to be celebrating El Dia but they totally change it, and do not follow the traditional customs of the celebration, but this article is racist as hell by pointing fingers at “white” people, because people from ALL backgrounds celebrate holidays and don’t celebrate in the tradition of the original holiday. Look at Christmas. It is almost 100% copied from an ancient Pagan holiday…. christians decided to take it and make a few changes like giving it a new name. Now it’s not even celebrated how christians originally celebrated it. It’s all about who can give and receive the best, most expensive gifts. People of all skin colors celebrate christmas and most don’t celebrate the actual reason for the holiday, so you should be angry with all of them too if you’re going to claim this isn’t about race.

    By the way, all humans are shades of brown, from the least melanin endowed person to the most melanin endowed person. We all come from one common ancestor in Africa. While it may be extremely distant relations, humans are all related; we’re all family.

  46. deescribe315
    January 18, 2018

    Aya, though I have responded favorably to another article you wrote (and made my exceptions to it known to you), I am compelled to point out something no one else has seemed to notice: you state that you are a mixed race woman and that your heritage includes black, white and Puerto Rican. I don’t see how that makes you Latina as P.R. is not a Latin American country, but that’s not my point. My point is that on any form in the U.S. that we have to fill out (any form that asks about race), we are offered a slew of choices. Perhaps you have never noticed that there are TWO choices under the catagory “white/Caucasian”. The choices are: “white/Hispanic” and “white/non-Hispanic”. Hispanic people are genetically Caucasian, and by calling yourself Latina you are checking the”white/Hispanic” box. So your lineage becomes white, black, and more white. Guess what? You are WHITE.

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