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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1,885 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. Jotoro Cujo
    July 30, 2018

    We are not gringos you beaner,spick ,wetback,bitch,cunt,hoe,whore,sjw,social justice warrior,libtard ,antifa,commie ,idiot,latrino,illegal,demorat,hispancunt ,borderhopper .we created Halloween on October thirty first three thousand plus years ago in Ireland and northern Ireland by Druids …Celtic pagan priests ,whites created Halloween first in the first place to begin with not you latrinos who are last ethnicity on the planet earth to live o the planet earth five hundred years plus years ago ,whites never stole your culture ,your traditions or your customs from and used with your consent when were not yours to begin with in the first place.it is not cultural appropriation in the first place to begin with…there were no other holidays like Halloween before Halloween three thousand plus years ago and after three thousand plus years ago Halloween is not yours to begin with in the first place . We are Aryans ,we are not committing cultural appropriation you are ..you have culture,no tradition,no customs,no civilization,no society,no lands to call home other then you borderhopping and invading the United States and Mexican border like an invasive species and a parasite ..you are all parasites and an invasive species not human .making you are making over ten children and screwing each other without protection including condoms and …getting pregnant over ten times and living on welfare to suck and work the system dry .

    • 5
      September 2, 2018

      I find myself drawn to observe Dia de los Muertos here as I live here in Arizona. I’ve spent years trying to connect to my cultures from broken fragments my people have abandoned, trying to understand. I appreciate your article. I appreciate you speaking to my people, reminding them to recover their own culture. This fool who left this comment, he is a lot like a lot of us. We’re twisted and contorted by cultureless whiteness. We’re raised to believe we are the default. We believe we are a mass, we are one. We are not. And as we realize this, as we lose this footing, we lash out like a spoiled child. You don’t need my apology, I have no guilt. But as a neighbor, as an American cousin, you have my embarrassment on behalf of my kin, and my wish that your holidays do not become erased as ours nearly have.

      • Jotoro Cujo
        February 2, 2019

        Iam not a fool Iam a truther you demorat beaner liker no Iam not .we are one ,we are a mass ,no whites are not only sellout degenerates are .no us whites are not contorted and twisted by cultureless whiteness which whites have a culture not Latrinos who have culture,no traditions,no customs,no place on earth to call home other then mexihellhole .we is whites are the default ..we us whites bodies are clays of the earth only your you latrinos bodies are cockroaches and locusts of destruction we us whites are the clays of the earth only not you latrinos . latrinos are the youngest ethnicity in the world .

    • bigmamamojo
      September 4, 2018

      I think you need to adjust your medication. Whatever you’re taking isn’t really working for you.

      • Jotoro Cujo
        February 2, 2019

        No they donot ,Iam feeling fine and Iam fine .you need to go kill yourself ,you need to be put in a concentration camp in a gas chamber to be gassed to be exterminated.it is working for me .you need to stop snooping and nosing around where it doesnot belong .

    • HelloWorld
      October 26, 2018

      Actually, when you research the origins of both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos, it is in fact that Dia de los Muertos originated during the Aztec time, one thousand years before Halloween was created. Therefore, Dia de los Muertos was created first, however, both holidays have completely different cultural significances. Instead of making racial slurs behind a keyboard to mask your own insecurities and ignorance, why don’t you pick up a book once in a while and gain some knowledge?

      • Jotoro Cujo
        February 2, 2019

        No I know about Halloween more then do .I donot have ignorance or insecurities like you .halloween was created two years before dia los did murte not one thousand years earlier Aztecs did not create dia los de murte before Halloween celts did three thousand years ago and two thousand years before Aztecs every existed .iam not masking anything you are .halloween was created first not dia los de murte which was created last .no I donot have to I know it .donot tell me what to do jewboy or dirty filthy Jew ,kike .I read more then you do then don’t you stop being a dirty filthy Jew ,Jewboy ,kike then ?,celts were first not Aztecs were last .I can do whatever I want when ever I want you dirty filthy Jew ,kike,Jewboy . You have proof or evidence to prove it.you should be in a concentration camp in the gas chamber to be gassed to be exterminated.why don’t go kill yourself ?,Aryans are superior then you dirty filthy Jews ,kikes ,Jewboys .why don’t stop snooping or nosing around with your big Jew nose where it doesnot belong ?,you donot tell me what to .

      • Jotoro Cujo
        February 2, 2019

        Iam not behind a keyboard you dirty filthy Jew,kike ,Jewboy stop nosing around with your big Jew nose and your antifa ,commie ,demorat ,SJW social justice idiocy warrior vile Jew sorcery and vile Jewry where it doesnot belong and shove it up your dirty filthy Jew ,kike ,Jewboy ass ,nice try dirty filthy Jew ,kike ,Jewboy ass.

      • Jotoro Cujo
        February 2, 2019

        Iam not using racial slurs Iam telling the truth which dirty,filthy Jews,kikes ,Jewboys cannot tell properly without being forced to .no I donot have to you I read everyday .you are a beaner lover .

    • pissedoff
      October 2, 2019

      u are a true idiot. Halloween is NOT the same as day of the dead. you fucktard

    • reuben
      October 10, 2019

      Day of the Dead is not Halloween. Learn facts before spewing your racist vomit.

    • Scott Shamblin
      October 10, 2019

      Wow, the racism of Joturo Cujo

    • Ignacio Ceja
      October 11, 2019

      To begin with, you’re a fucking idiot. “We” created shit. Samhain, observed by the Celts, marked summer’s end in Ireland. And when she was addressing the Halloween tradition in the article, she was addressing whites, not Hispanics. But since you’re barely literate, you wouldn’t know that. I could go on, but I think it would take too long for you to process what I’ve written thus far.

    • Lupe
      October 11, 2019

      Learn how to write and put your ideas together if that is even possible for you to do. You sound like a teen troll. There is nothing else to do than laugh at your stupidity and ignorance.

    • Nicole
      October 12, 2019

      I’m all for expressing opinion, but this is downright offensive.

    • Nicole
      October 12, 2019

      I’m all for expressing opinion, but your reply to this article is downright offensive.

    • Carla Capineri
      October 12, 2019

      Shut up, you ignorant troglodyte! You don’t speak for anyone other than pathetic, INCEL loser MAGAts that are a massive waste of oxygen with no purpose existing on this planet! Go CRAWL BACK UNDER YOUR ROCK, TROLL!

    • S Valis
      October 12, 2019

      Wow. She hit all nails on the head. Bravo!

    • jwycoff45
      October 12, 2019

      What a horrible, hate-filled, ignorant rant. You embarrass all white people and I apologize to anyone who has read this, regardless of their ethnicity or culture.

    • Axel
      October 13, 2019

      Joturo Cujo your response is shit, you are an ignorant racist piece of shit

    • cneajna
      October 13, 2019

      Nice way to show your ignorance…. the rest of us are laughing at you. Dia de Los Muertos is NOT “Halloween” – or anything LIKE Halloween. But calling yourself an “Aryan” says more about you than it does about those who celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. You’re a racist pig. (I don’t need to list 15 different insults to get my point across). PS. Your “English” sucks too! Unless that wasn’t English you were attempting to type and just some form of caveman ie troglodyte, neanderthal. Or maybe…. Homo heidelbergensis lived on Earth between 700,000 and 200,000 years ago. They emerged from Africa. Earliest of your ancestors. Enjoy your sad little life … oh, btw, your hood and robe are ready for pickup at the dry cleaners.

    • Fran Frain Aguirre
      October 13, 2019

      I am of Irish ancestry also. I do not agree with the person above who just vilified indigenous cultures! Do you have any idea what the word Halloween means? een means evening and hallow means holy. This day may go way back to the beginning of Christianity. –just about 2000 years! The indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere go back some 10 thousand years or more. Why do we think in either or terms? Why not think in also terms and inclusive terms? We all will die and we all need to remember that we are all human. I could go on about the history of white male land owners in the U.S. Why can we not simply appreciate each culture? I didn’t know we were in competition with each other!

    • Pat Hardwick
      October 13, 2019

      Dia de los Muertos is NOT the same as Halloween. You might want to research the history of Halloween and its connection to The Feast of All Souls. Your comment is so filled with hate , falsehoods, and generalizations that I, definitely a gringa, find it cringe-worthy. Surely you can’t be for real. You must be an internet troll. No one can be this nasty.

    • Ramon
      October 13, 2019

      Get off the crack you fuck head…

    • rosereads
      October 13, 2019

      You do not honor your ancestors by speaking to her in this manner. You do not honor anyone by speaking such hatred.

      Halloween and the Day of the Dead are two different holidays which take place at the waning of the year; a natural time of year to celebrate those that have passed on when the seasons changes and the light becomes less abundant.

    • Teresa
      October 13, 2019

      Día de los muertos is not on the 31st of October. Oops?

    • Jotoro Isadick
      October 14, 2019

      Fuck YOU too

    • Jotoro Isakkkunt
      October 14, 2019

      Always nice to hear what an ignorant KKKunt has to say

    • virgil sampson
      October 14, 2019

      i feel bad for you that someone in your life that thought they loved you, taught you how to hate in such a disrespectful way. to try and make your fellow human being feel so unwanted and not valued. that kind of hate is so unwelcome everywhere now days. you must be very tired and or have become so used of carrying your hate. life is to short pal, i hope you find some sort of peace before you die

    • Kirsten
      October 14, 2019

      I’m sorry but your comments are horrible and unnecessary. She has valid observations that deserve thoughtful consideration and reflection. Comments like yours discredit and shame caucasians.

    • marianwhit
      October 15, 2019

      Wow…in your hateful rage you completely missed the point. You could have made your points in a reasonable way (it is called discourse, which is NOT what you are doing), an we could have explored this interesting topic. But instead, you chose to be the monster.

    • Tina
      October 15, 2019

      This is Turtle Island, from the North pole to the southern part of this Island and we should all have a right to live peacefully here with not having borders to discriminate. First Nations have suffered from the very beginning.

    • Raquel Martinez
      October 17, 2019

      You really need to research Mayan history.

  2. Drew Michaud
    September 16, 2018

    Hi,
    I’m in no way trying to offend anyone or disrespect the Holliday or the Mexican community and their culture.
    I have always admired the celebrations of day of the dead. I am white, but I am wondering if there’s anyway to respectfully celebrate this Holliday. I don’t want to “colonize” it or make it white. I just was wondering if there’s anyway I can respectfully celebrate Dia De Los Muertos.
    I’m sorry if I offended anyone.
    -Drew

    • Scott Shamblin
      October 10, 2019

      Exactly. I live in Mexico. I go with a Mexican friend to his family’s graveyard and celebrate their loved ones with them.

    • Lawrence Staples
      October 14, 2019

      This dumbass doesn’t speak for us, We are not a victim culture… Join us, Wear a sombrero, and drink with us, No one in our family will fuck with you, This chick is probably soms BLM activist ashamed because she is too chicano to be enough of a victim so she is dragging this bullshit to our culture.

    • thegeekygaeilgeoir
      October 16, 2019

      The writer actually addresses this. It’s not the people who observe the holiday respectfully, with an understanding of the culture, who are the problem. It’s the people who want to turn it into some kind of skeleton-filled St. Patrick’s Day who are the problem. I suspect that, if you observe with due reverence, and really try to understand the culture, you will be welcomed. Perhaps if there are any Latino-led observances in your area that are open to the public, you could attend and observe.

  3. Mari
    October 26, 2018

    Thank you for your beautifully written post. Being white, but having grown up in and around Latin cultures (Panama, and south Texas), seeing the traction that the Day of the Dead has gained in predominantly white communities has unsettled me. The connection to honoring deceased loved ones does not exist in these displays, and they just feel wrong…because they are wrong.

    • alicenow
      October 26, 2018

      Mari, have you gone into all those people’s houses to check if they honor relatives or not? No, the displays are not wrong anymore than atheists celebrating Christmas is wrong. Do you despise Japanese who celebrate the trappings of Christmas without being Christian?

    • Hayley
      October 13, 2019

      I think the author was saying that if you go to celebrations that are set up, and include the actual latinx people running things, performing the music, providing the food, buying your supplies from those people instead of supporting white-washed soul versions then you are welcome. At least that’s what I got from the article.

  4. Sierra
    October 27, 2018

    We can’t celebrate “your” holiday because we’re white? I live in San Diego. It’s impossible to avoid these events. What am I supposed to do, stay home for a week after Halloween? Or should I get out there and learn something about my neighbors and friends? I think the people you need to be angry at are the white people who DON’T want this celebrated in the U.S., and who want hispanics to “go back where you came from,” NOT the people who are accepting and open to learn more about another culture. Does this mean I have to stay home during Chinese New Year, too? I wouldn’t want to accidentally appropriate their culture by buying a pork bun at the park that day. Get off your high horse. There are bigger issues in this country for brown folks than the people who are actually trying to be on your side. It is absolutely racist to say that people of any color can’t participate in something due to their color. These events you are complaining about are attempts at support and solidarity for a group who make up an enormous part of our own American culture. If you want to see more events organized by Mexican-Americans, then be the change you want to see in the world. Until then, stop antagonizing the people who are enthusiastic about learning about your culture. The point of all cultural events celebrated in the U.S., is to gain acceptance by bringing people together through celebration and education. Dia de los Muertos is now just another ingredient in the melting pot, just like many holidays before it.

    • alicenow
      October 27, 2018

      Thank you, Sierra

    • Laura B.
      October 30, 2018

      She did NOT say we couldn’t celebrate because we’re white.

      She asked us IF we are white and intending on participating not to forget the history of the holiday, the people it came from, or the indigenous family we have tragically lost due to racism, persecution, and colonizalization, and especially not to forget the people who are still struggling because of those things.

      • alicenow
        September 14, 2019

        Really? Cuz it sure sounds like it. How can anyone in public know someone’s own private dealings? I have a skull purse like Dia de los Muertos and people have given me the eye. I don’t care. I like it AND I have a huge table set up in my dining room near the 31st with half Halloween and half Dia. I don’t just take one day and that is it. Anyway, St. Patrick’s Day was never a big holiday in Ireland, only religious. Now Dublin has a huge parade. Does it bother my Irish genes? No. You are free to partake or not.

    • Renee
      October 13, 2019

      Well said

    • KatinkaStinkletheFirst
      October 13, 2019

      Telling a person of color that they have more important things to focus and to relax while their own rich, deeply meaningful and ancient traditions are commercialized, because YOU, yourself feel comfortable in your whiteness trampling on and through other peoples’ cultures is the peak of ignorance. I mean, you have just defined what white culture is and proven to the internet that you are a “thinking” and breathing manifestation of its legacy. HI-HO CUSTER -AWAY! You have just proved the point of her piece. How’s it look up there from YOUR god-like white crystal horse ? Columbus much? As far as white traditions go, Christmas is often called x-mas and there’s about as much solidified cultural meaning and religion in the mass celebration of it as there is in a walk through CVS. Also, in what corner of cornbread-no book-reading -piss booze-loving-gentrified-square-dance-hall-America are they celebrating the Chinese new year? False equivalence. Some traditions and souls will not comply with their simultaneous devaluation and comodification just because Americans aim to brand the term “melting pot.” A melting pot where people and cultures go to be blanded out and drown by imperialism and the “illuminated” voices of the usurpers is not a melting pot anyone should be bragging about. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Ordering Chinese take-out is not celebrating Chinese New Year. Taco Bell is not celebrating Mexican cuisine. The team name Washington Redsk**s does NOT aim to celebrate First Peoples. North Americans have no place thinking they are the first and last words in the discussion of meaning and safe-guarding of cultural practices. The People get to keep their Sun Dance. Guess you didn’t get the memo. This calling of the author to action-gimme a break. If YOU want a holiday white people can’t got wrong with, YOU should make one for us, we’ll call it WalTargetH&M Day, where we all just wear brand name shit while standing in a circle jerk around the flag, while blasting house music and fervently praying that the Irish easter bunny brings us eternal authority over those whom we aim to know nothing about.

      • Hayley
        October 13, 2019

        “cornbread-no book-reading -piss booze-loving-gentrified-square-dance-hall-America ” that is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Like, it is so discriptive.

    • thegeekygaeilgeoir
      October 16, 2019

      Sounds like you didn’t read the whole article. She’s actually welcoming people who want to observe the holiday…just not those who want to appropriate the bits they find “cool” or appealing and leave the rest.

  5. Victorya
    November 1, 2018

    The Spanish under rule of the Catholic church brought the tradition we celebrate today, to Mexico. All Hallows Eve, All Saints day, All souls day. Mexico took on what was forced onto them by Catholic rule and created a new beautiful tradition. It became a combination of what the Aztecs started 3000 years ago and the church’s saint and soul celebrations. The Aztecs actually celebrated in summer originally. It was the Spaniard invasion that birthed the version we have today. Culture and tradition should always be honored but it is up to us to do so. Nothing belongs only to one person or tribe, seperation is an illusion, a lie. We are all of one source. Many shades of brown are we. Our bodies are the clay of the earth only. The Source that powers your temple is the very same Source that powers theirs. Unless they are soulless ones. The best way to remove a problem is to be the solution. Don’t focus on the problem instead create, live, be, and teach, the solution. Only feed your energy towards things you wish to bring to life. Bless you my sister. And may your ancestors and loved ones surround you and lovingly accept your blessed ofrendas. 💧🍃 🌎 🔥

  6. Jack
    November 2, 2018

    Eh, it’s no big deal. People’s misunderstandings usually lead to more misunderstandings. I guess one has to hold onto whatever one can. My Mai and her grandmother were both born on this day. But to be honest the day doesn’t mean much to me, except perhaps a little curiosity is all. Her grandmother was supposedly a white witch. But really I wouldn’t take it too personally, because these supposed thoughts and arguments will really lead nowhere except to more arguments. If that’s what you really want. Pretty much everything is BS. But really isn’t every single day the day of the dead, in terms of Jesus Christ?

    • Normandie Kent
      September 14, 2019

      Jesus Christ has nothing to do with this. Christianity was forced onto the indigenous people in the Americas. Judaeism, Christianity and Islam was never meant for everyone, lest of all Indigenous people from other continents , Judaism was very localized and the origin story was only for a small group of Middle Eastern goat herders, and it spawned the worlds organized religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and most Native American people do not celebrate this foreign religion. DITD is an Indigenous spiritual and cultural tradition that practice ancestor worship!! This is a sacred spiritual practice, that will be commercialized, bastardized, sullied and it will be turned into a commodified and commercialized drinking party day like Cinco de Mayo or Saint Patricks Day. Ultimately destined to be made into a bland White American day that has been stripped of its origins, its Culture and spirituality for the culture-less “White American” appropriators and consumers. Anything that the colonizers can make a quick buck on! Even their own “Religious” holidays meant to be sacred have been prostituted into something perverted and disgustingly commercialized. In fact, noting is sacred to these European colonizers!!

      • Alex Andre
        September 14, 2019

        Welcome to the uSA madafaka

      • alicenow
        September 14, 2019

        Lol Normandie. it isn’t THAT bad. Actually many NAs are evangelical Christians or other type of Christian. I am sure you realize exchange of cultures happens everywhere, including Mexico where Halloween is popular. Guess you didn’t know most cultures had celebratory fests for death and ancestors. The Druids did and it became Halloween. Druids were British and Celtic, and there are many more Druids now in the US. Do be sure to check your hatred cuz you are oozing. How dare you use hateful words against “white Americans”. btw, I have no idea why you put that in quotes. Really, get help. You are obsessed with colonizers.

    • Alex Andre
      September 14, 2019

      Agreed. That’s American culture. Deal with it. Don’t even know why this chick is upset, she’s Boricua, we don’t even celebrate that holiday.

    • Hayley
      October 13, 2019

      First off you’re assuming everyone is Christian, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Secondly that’s like saying isn’t every day Christmas because of Christ, so why bother celebrating or having any traditions.

  7. depreciated
    November 15, 2018

    It’s a Mexican holiday, not a Hispanic holiday nor Latino holiday.

    I’m a white male born in the United States and you are a Puerto Rican also born in the United States.

    Neither one of us is Mexican, so using your logic, neither one of us should be celebrating this particular holiday.

  8. Virginia Powers
    December 13, 2018

    I am white and I want to first say thank you for this post..that is 100% sincere.
    What brought me to your post was that my husband and I have friends from El Salvador they are a beautiful couple. We have known Ricardo for a couple of years. His girlfriend came into the picture about six months ago. She is learning English and we have been basically teaching each other our languages. Okay promise I have a point just wanted to give a bit of the why behind my reason for reaching out.
    So, we have a decorative skull on our bookshelve and I didnt think much about it until today when we had them over. After they left I was for whatever reason thinking we dont know what it represents and then I was thinking that could be bad if it represents something that is offensive towards our friends or anyone at all. So I started to search and that is how Ianded on your post.
    I dont want to be offensive or disrespectful and would love to hear your input. And please I am not so sensitive that I cant handle a straightforward answer. Which after reading your post I feel confident this is where I will get a straightforward answer.
    Thank you so much for speaking up and speaking out. Our entire country has become a mess and lack sensitivity or better put sensitivity is misplaced and lack the need to understand anything anymore.
    Again thank you and Iook forward to being educated.
    VP

    • alicenow
      December 15, 2018

      Lol what a ridiculous post. Our “entire” country is a mess?? That is such an erroneous statement. But of course you yourself are part of the mess, since it’s the entire country, yes?

    • marianwhit
      October 15, 2019

      Good comment. I LOVE the DOTD art forms (as made by their artist creators). I also have a moose skull in my garden covered with moss. They both remind me of the sanctity of each day. I am hoping I am not doing anything wrong. I appreciate world wide art, and believe I am supporting the artist from whom I buy. Maybe that just confirms my consumerism, but I always felt it was in support of self expression.

  9. Eric Johnson
    December 26, 2018

    First off, I don’t hate mexicans and I don’t celebrate day of the dead. What I truly dislike is the blatant disrespect and racism some mexicans have towards people that aren’t like them. It’s become the “norm” for mexicans to blatantly spew racist comments directly to other races in everyday non-confrontational situations.They think it’s a joke and usually do it when other mexicans are around. The fact is, the USA is still very “clicky” and people hang out in groups based on their race, identity or cultural status. My good friend is Mexican and he often conveys how he dislikes some mexicans because they throw fast food trash out the window or because they trash talk him because he’s more Americanized that some in his neighborhood. This blatant disrespect and bullying mainly in the US is not helping us win the battle against racism. Either you are a part of the solution or you are a part of the problem. Together we are strong, divided we are weak. One Love in Unity.

  10. Eric Johnson
    December 26, 2018

    Anyone in this thread that insults, someone or a certain race straight out, is the problem.

    • alicenow
      December 27, 2018

      Like the author of the article

    • Eric Isatwat
      October 14, 2019

      You JUST said “It’s become the “norm” for mexicans (sic) to blatantly spew racist comments” (and other bullshit) and ended with “Anyone in this thread that insults, someone or a certain race straight out, is the problem.” I disagree with the first statement and wholeheartedly agree with the last. You’re an asshole.

  11. Stephanie P
    January 5, 2019

    Greetings Aya,
    Just adding my two cents…
    I’m a 56 year old white antique Jersey girl researching Dia de los Muertos. I’m now an Arizona resident, and it’s everywhere, so I thought I should at least understand it. Like most white East Coasters, at first I thought it was kinda creepy. Then a Mexican acquaintance told me you are honoring your dead ancestors with love and happiness, with bright colors, flowers, and families praying together. How beautiful! Wow, was I wrong! What a wonderful way to deal with death and grief. Of course I want to do that – but I don’t really know how. I need to learn more, and what better way to learn than from people from your culture? So some of us old white folk do want you and need you, tbh. I’m quite aware Dia de los Muertos is not my custom – no, so far from it – but I would like to participate. It is my sincere hope that that is not cultural appropriation. It’s cultural admiration. And lol, you are so right about Halloween being a Wal-Mart holiday! Now that’s creepy!
    Stephanie

    • alicenow
      January 6, 2019

      Stephanie, you know what I think is creepy? A white person putting down their own culture. I know Hispanic folks who don’t like Dia de los Muertos cuz they think it’s creepy. If you regard Halloween as a Walmart holiday, you are remiss in your research. It is a very old Druid festival, despite its present trappings. Will you also put down Day of the Dead since it is readily being commercialized? So, quit sucking up, it’s ugly.

      • Hayley
        October 13, 2019

        Halloween is not an old Druid Festival, Samhain is. Halloween is the commercialized modern holiday based off of it. It is also completely separate as many people still actively practice and celebrate Samhain. They are not the same thing at all.
        And when a great deal of a person’s so-called culture involves this stealing of ideas and practices and traditions from the people they have literally slaughtered I think it’s perfectly okay to feel a little down on some of the culture

      • marianwhit
        October 15, 2019

        US citizens have a culture? Please describe!

      • Donna Lake
        October 16, 2019

        Halloween is not ” a very old Druid festival…” Samhain is the pagan tradition from which the Christian, All Souls Night, or All Hallows Eve, takes its roots, and Halloween is essentially an American tradition that has pretty much always been a plastic Walmart type function but it grew out of the Christian version. Additionally, Dia de los Muertos originated in Europe, (where Ancestor veneration was cross cultural, especially in the Basque regions of Spain, where BTW, they still wear kilts and play bagpipes) and came to Mexico with the Spaniards. Finally, the face painting and the dressed up Calavera Catrina (the Elegant Skull) is a fairly recent occurrence. It first showed up in a 1913 etching by José Guadalupe Posada, who used it to make a political commentary. It had little to do with Day of the Dead celebrations.The bottom line is that everyone dies, and most cultures have a way of acknowledging death and the departed. The traditions this blogger is accusing people of ‘colonizing’ do not necessarily ‘belong’ the the Mexican culture, and are aside from the very real fact that the way the US government is treating Mexicans is reprehensible.

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  13. Concerned Citizen
    April 1, 2019

    Just found this article. It’s interesting. Now this cultural appropriation, does this take in to account, how the whole latino culture has appropriated Scottish Tartan and plaids with denim jeans as an official outfit. As a descendant of Scottish people I find this highly offensive and continue to ponder why no one of hispanic lineage, that seems so immersed in the defense of cultures, are not shouting from the mountains that their people need to stop this.

    • KatinkaStinkletheFirst
      October 13, 2019

      @Concerned Citizen. Barring being Jewish, white cultures aren’t among those that have been historically and systemically oppressed. If a person of color wants to wear a kilt, it is not appropraition because they are not from the dominant culture. Appropriation happens when the dominant culture (usually white euro-americans) incorporate or take art , dance or aspects of religion from a less dominant culture without authorization to do so. This incorporation is appropriation because it lacks necessary understanding of background and context. If you are part of the dominant culture, people who aren’t from that culture can’t appropriate your stuff, that’s how cultural appropriation works. When you’re culture is all pervasive, you ate not a minority subjected to the whims of the dominant culture. Get a grip. Not wanting POC to wear Tartans is just straight up racist. The call for white people to not appropriate cultures they’re not a part of does not solely translate to “we don’t like when you wear our dresses and face paint.” It’s the CONTEXT, the subjugation throughout history, and the lazy ignorance of those who only want to take what something looks like without taking time to learn the depth and meaning that makes it appropriation. Now, if you were actually Scottish, from Scotland, living in Scotland and didn’t want the ENGLISH wearing Tartans, you’d be a nationalist but you’d at least have a point.

      • Bill Buggen
        October 16, 2019

        “Barring being Jewish, white cultures aren’t among those that have been historically and systemically oppressed.”

        That is plain ignorance of history. Come back when you have read a book, not just recited from dull-minded sociology bulkpacks.

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  15. Colleen
    October 11, 2019

    I haven’t read writing of this quality, in a long time. Your ideas are expressed so clearly, and heartbreakingly true. It is evident you have given this much thought. I moved to Mexico, and can appreciate your sentiments, after witnessing firsthand how Dia de los Muertos is celebrated here.
    Thank you for shedding light on this topic and the other issues pressing on our hearts. Hopefully young people are listening and learning. Holidays do not have to be about commercialization. Let us respect the authenticity of them!

  16. Bex
    October 11, 2019

    Found the Nazi… 🙄

    • Bex
      October 11, 2019

      (when I said Nazi I was definitely talking about the jotoro person, to clarify)

  17. Catherine Dalton
    October 12, 2019

    Thank you. As a white Pagan, I hear what you are saying. And honey. You and yours are welcome at any Celtic ritual I celebrate.
    I do honour your culture. As a cook, I tried making sugar skulls, cuz, cooking. They are HARD to make, and damn, start in like July if you want them to ever dry!!!
    As a Pagan I feel connections with a number of cultures.
    Across the Veil that separates us from our Beloved Dead, there is no appropriation, or dishonouring other traditions. There is only love and hope that they will be remembered and we will honour them by living our lives well.
    I raise my glass to you and yours, and wish you health and happiness! Hail ALL our Ancestors!!
    Slainte`!!!!!

  18. Cannon
    October 12, 2019

    Samhain Celtic origins of Halloween

  19. S Valis
    October 12, 2019

    Wow. She hit all nails on the head. Bravo!

  20. Lucy
    October 12, 2019

    Thank you for sharing this Aya. I’m really sad that some of the comments from white people are so disgusting. They don’t actually sound like they come from humans. I myself am white and although practice spirituality in a more authentic way, I know that I myself could have got caught up in something like this without even thinking of your perspective and looking more deeply at what this festival means to the people from which it was born. I’m grateful to learn more and hear you share how you feel. Sending you big love and I really hope people will stand up for your voice .

  21. cneajna
    October 13, 2019

    It might also be good to note that even Mexicans who celebrate the holiday, also commercialize it. I’m not complaining when I mention this, but it is a fact. Go to Tijuana and visit any of the little shops there that sell ceramics or artwork. Almost every one has some form of Dia de Los Muertos. The items are beautiful and whenever I’m there I try to bring back a few pieces because I appreciate the creativity and talent that went into making them. I have respect for the holiday, but I still enjoy the artwork it creates and represents. The best part of my family is from Mexico. They are some of the hardest working out there and for the ones who are either unaware or just forgot, without them you wouldn’t have much in the way of fresh produce. So, if you are racist like Joturo Cujo, maybe you should stop eating vegetables and fruit because it was most likely picked by a Mexican.

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  23. Paul
    October 14, 2019

    My ‘white people’ ancestors were considered an “inferior race” (inferior to Nordic-Americans) and opposed by the KKK because we are non-Anglo.

    The ones Columbus brought (from the Iberian Peninsula) destroyed the Native people of the Caribbean (in 40 years),….

    …. Then imported & enslaved Africans (for 400 years.)

    (Aren’t we supposed to talk about THIS, during Hispanic Heritage Month … ?)

    In any case, I respect you, and your ancestors, very much. And I am glad we are neighbors.

  24. Lily
    October 15, 2019

    I read past the racial slurs, made it through the mis-information about how other cultures acknowledge death, just about through the whining that none latin people had organised celebrations where no one from the latin community had stepped forward to do so, but at that point I’d reached my stupid quota for the day…

  25. Bobo Trinkles
    October 15, 2019

    The only problem with this article is the author claims it’s her holiday and traditions… And even puts a photo of herself all painted up……but she states her Latin heritage is Puerto Rican. Her people don’t even celebrate it in Puerto Rico… So what gives her the right to tell others not to? Because she grew up around others who do? There’s also a ton of white people who grew up around the Latino community with people who celebrate it as well. Your no different from them because your people didn’t traditionaly celebrate it either.

  26. Bill Buggen
    October 16, 2019

    Sorry. Day of the Dead has NO Puerto Rican background whatsoever.

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

  28. mirante
    October 17, 2019

    she is latino… this means presumably she is a mixture of spanish conquistador and native heritage. it means also her tradition is syncretic, created from the incorporation and blending of at least two cultures. One of which was responsible for the first colonisation, the one that decimated 90% of indigenous american tribal people. this strict division and categorisation of ‘white people’ from spanish forebearers seems somewhat confused, as does laying the blame for destruction of native people at the feet of white ancestors, whereas it mainly occured through spanish forebearers of whom many contemporary central american people carry in their own blood. if cultural appropriation wasn’t troublesome enough as a concept, this piece seems quite ignorant about ethnicity and history.

    • marianwhit
      October 18, 2019

      Awesome thoughts…mic drop. I think cultural appropriation is worth exploring intellectually, having just returned from an awesome bit of fusion dance and music. But not sanctimoniously. We all need more choices in life…the commercialization of everything is what cheapens and devalues it.

  29. M.
    October 18, 2019

    I am Mexican, (I really don’t get why a Puertorrican-American feels the need to raise her voice about issues that are not in her own culture and knowledge, sorry, I appreciate the attempt and sympathy, but this doesn’t concern you) the Day of the dead that even most Mexicans nowadays have incorporated has not much to do with the original traditions, furthermore, it was transformed into what it is now (and it is still evolving) as a cultural product by…. Hollywood! There used to be no parades and not asking for calaveritas without the USA Halloween (stolen from Samhain). So even if a bit biased for the whole seasonal celebration (which is my own favourite time of the year) I see this as cultural exchange, and as a way to make people aware of the Mexican culture in general. I still see the “original” (syncretised really) ways held both in Oaxaca and Michoacán, and even if they now extend and adopt and mix, the part that is sacred is still taken in its family way. We all gonna die just as we all were born, and I salute how Día de Muertos make people develop a different relationship to the concept of death, more light-hearted and less fearful, and this is also another reason for celebrating this cultural exchange. Day of the dead would have never grown to be what is today in mexico, without the influence of Halloween and Hollywood. So while I support the author of the article about accepting people movement, I don’t see a basis for claiming colonisation. Day of the dead was already a colonisation product with the syncretism of Spain imposed faith, and its resilience overtime is a sign of the strength of Mexico and Mexican peoples. Long live to the day of the dead, however it evolves for the global culture, it will remain sacred in the cemeteries and homes of those who hold the fire. if anything, thanks for making all of this surrounding celebrations a total fiesta. Now, can everyone benefiting from this send a donation to any social relief charity in Mexico? That would really be cool and would show real appreciation and gratitude.

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

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Aya wins first place Independent Publisher Awards for UPTOWN THIEF, THE BOSS, THE ACCIDENTAL MISTRESS

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