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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1,820 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. Nikki Davis
    November 3, 2014

    This is a horribly written ignorant article that spreads nothing….not even hate……Sorry Your White Dad left your Mom.

    • Ben Gillock
      November 3, 2014

      Hi Nikki – it is really disappointing to read your comment. Your mom never taught you that if you don’t have something nice/constructive/helpful to say to keep your privileged, ignorant, racist mouth shut? I find this article to be very thoughtful, and even kind, considering the context. Your response is neither of these things.

      • Jenny
        November 3, 2014

        Well said Ben.

      • J
        November 3, 2014

        Actually, since this is the Internet, Ben, I believe Nikki’s privilege to say whatever the fuck he/she wants to checks out. Amazing how you’re defending the Puerto Rican African Hipster whose homeland is a US Territory that celebrates numerous American holidays. Why don’t you do research? Nikki’s comment wasn’t even that offensive, so shut up and head back to your Tumblr blog with your “white privilege” shit.

        I have the privilege of telling you to Shut the fuck up.

      • Last Comment
        March 7, 2018

        if you do not have something nice to say be quiet is the worst advice I ever heard,Japan is doing that and look at them, a half dead society with a bunch of damaged people who can`t make a product work anymore, maybe your mother was an idiot too, that is why she gave you that advice

  2. Charm Shmarm
    November 3, 2014

    Dear “brown” people, please obey my countries immigration laws. K. Thanks.

    • fubalo
      November 3, 2014

      Many “brown” people never immigrated.

      • Liam_Coal
        November 4, 2014

        Many white people too, to be fair

    • Ben Gillock
      November 3, 2014

      Dear Charm, please learn some history. It is embarrassing to read your ignorant comment. Our country is built on the exploitation of the bodies of brown and black people. Our country aggressively promotes global economic policy that undermines the economies of the global south, and actively causes immigration. The food you eat is grown by the immigrants that you are disrespecting, and if they left and went home (which most would love to do, if there were jobs) our food system would fall apart (white people won’t work for those wages). I think it is generally a good idea to ask why folks are immigrating, and try to help those who are in a tough situation, instead of dismissing and disrespecting them. But, maybe you just don’t care.

      • El Chupacabro
        November 3, 2014

        Ben. You’re such a good little liberal -complicit in the exploitation of the poor. “white people won’t work for those wages” so let’s take advantage of those here illegally and afraid. If you are an illegal immigrant, you’re breaking the law. And we’re Americans. We’d find a way to pick the fruits and veggies.

      • Liam_Coal
        November 4, 2014

        Hi Ben,

        I’m sorry to read such comments as El Cupacabro’s in response to yours. I largely agree with your comments about immigration in the United States, which relies on cheap labour from around the globe (as indeed all industrialised countries do). However, your sweeping comments about ‘white people’ are too broad. The history of oppression and exploitation, of the expropriation of what working people have struggled and sacrificed to build and protect in our past, is not about the colour of our skin, but about power and class. I say this as a white person descended from very ordinary, poor, Welsh stock, living in Britain.

      • Liam_Coal
        November 4, 2014

        I should say – I’m sorry because I think you are on the same side, or should be, but I see aggression.

    • QuetzalXochitl
      November 3, 2014

      Dear White person. Sorry but my brown behind was here on our land before yours arrived on the Mayflower and committed a horrific genocide on our indigenous people. So stop profiling all brown people. K. Thanks.

      • cracker_white
        November 3, 2014

        Spanish is a European language. We took your identity way before we took you lands. Get back to scrubbing el bano.

    • Ava Leal (@UnderINK)
      November 3, 2014

      Dear “white” people: most of the brown people here didn’t immigrate. And Mexicans are Native American. The land on either side of the border once belonged to them. You move our people and tribes around and put up arbitrary borders and then tell us we need to obey your laws. Mexicans can move across that border because it’s *their land* that is *stolen property* you’re still holding.

    • rise
      November 4, 2014

      Dear “White” Ppl please respect your own immigration laws and head back to ireland, scotland, italy, England and every other place you illegally immigrated from. The “Brown” PPl were here first idiot

      • Liam_Coal
        November 4, 2014

        And where would it end?

  3. J
    November 3, 2014

    Dear Aya de Leon, I didn’t read the whole article but I don’t really think I needed to do so in order to get what this was about. It’s the whole, “oh you’re appropriating our culture” thing. Thing is, I don’t know anyone on October 31 in USA that decided they were going to celebrate a Mexican Holiday.

    This is America, we observe a holiday known as “Halloween”. Just by a quick Google search, apparently you live in the SanFran Bay Area (or you did) , so you should know as much. So to just get your first point out of the way no, to the average American it isn’t “natural” we’d want to celebrate the day of dead, nor do I know anyone that has any interest “colonizing” it.

    Sorry, but if you’re going to live in our country you need to realize your native holidays aren’t as important to you as they are to Americans. I used to live next door to some Mexicans in another state a few years ago, and they never complained that we were appropriating your holidays. In fact, their son from said went trick-or-treating with me and some other friends we had in the neighborhood.

    So from my perspective, your arguments are just really weak in general. The thing about it I don’t understand is, where exactly do you get off? the Americas have been predominately white since..well forever. It was a bunch of white males who created the Declaration of Independence, and it was white males who settled North America, mostly.

    if you people don’t like us “appropriating” your culture so much, why are you people so eager to adopt the moniker of “American” onto whatever people you are? if people really hate us “colonizing” your culture and traditions, why is it so many Spanish people (Puerto Rican people, and just Spanish) are so eager to come to our country? could it because of the opportunities and benefits and advantages we have that you don’t? obviously YES.

    You guy’s will complain about us appropriating your culture but you’re more than willing to adopt the name American and coast on the Second Amendment and Free Speech privileges, our jobs and housing, our TV Shows and Apple Products. It’s just ironic, 3,000,000 total Spanish Puerto Rican people were willing to immigrate to American, according to statistics, and a number of them actually identify as “white” as well, apparently.

    The more you know. Bottom line? don’t like whatever apparent changes or things happen to your culture, or just don’t like the few of us who take interest in your culture? go home. Go back to your native country, and stop breathing my American air and using our Internet.

    Problem solved, hypocrite.

    • rachaelwd
      November 3, 2014

      Dia de Los Muertos (or Day of the Dead, in English) is a different holiday than Halloween, J. Dia de Los Muertos is a 3 day holiday that begins on 10/31 and ends on 11/2. She even explains the differences in her post and encourages you to celebrate Halloween (and Dia de Los Muertos, with respect, in case you don’t have enough reading comprehension to understand that). Next time read the whole post if you’re going to try to 7-8 paragraphs trying to pick it apart.

      • kellymcquain
        November 3, 2014

        Hallowtide is also a three-day holiday: Hallowe’en, All Soul’s Day and All Saint’s Day. So the parallels with Dia de Los Meurtos are pretty clear. Both holidays are an amalgam of folk customs that were LONG AGO appropriated by the Catholic Church, which the writer fails to mention. Customs are strange, messy, spiritual and celebratory. Let’s embrace that and not put the kibbosh on fun.

        I live in Philadelphia, in one of its most diverse neighborhoods. We give candy to our Mexican neighbors’ trick-or-treaters, and we live by the Mexican Market and Italian Market on 9th Street and attend the many cultural festivals of our Italian, Asian and Latino neighbors. Sharing cultural traditions provides ambassadorial goodwill and helps remind us that in many we are one. That there is such diversity here is one of the things I love about Philadelphia. I’m happy to share the holidays and folklore of my forbears, and I appreciate it when other cultures are willing to share theirs. I understand the writer’s gripe (one gay friend gripes about straight women increasingly holding their “girl’s’ night out” in gay bars). No one wants to feel like their culture is being poached. But I say let in all those who want to explore new traditions with an open heart. This world is for sharing. http://www.KellyMcQuain.wordpress.com

      • amanda
        November 3, 2014

        Exactly ! How can someone critisize without reading the whole thing? Im white, and agree we ruin holidays. Everything is comercialized and plastic.

      • myrhinne
        November 3, 2014

        Samhain is the Indigenous European holiday where Halloween comes from. It too was a three-day celebration at the same time frame. Since the Celts may have descended from the Iberian peninsula, Samhain and Dia de Los Muertos may have some (very far-removed) similar roots from harvest celebrations in ancient Spain.

        After the Catholic church suppressed Indigenous European celebrations, some similar observances cropped up in the Middle Ages. The tradition of Trick-or-Treating comes from the Christian tradition known as Souling, where prayers for the dead were exchanged for food.

        There are people who do celebrate Samhain as well as we can considering that other European cultures destroyed those ancient traditions 500-1200 years ago. The US and GB are probably the best places to safely celebrate and practice Indigenous European (European-based Pagan) faiths, but WASP culture oppresses and belittles anything that isn’t “white” or “good” enough, including Pagans of all varieties.

    • Ringo Alex
      November 3, 2014

      Well just for the record is “El
      Dia De Muertos” no “DIa de los Muertos”. thank you.

      • kellymcquain
        November 3, 2014

        ^There are many sources that use either term; some Latin people call it the one, some the other, as far as I can tell. On the signage by Spanish speakers in Philadelphia, it’s “de los”. Perhaps it’s a regional variation? But no one spells it “Dla”, I’m afraid.

    • Xavier
      November 3, 2014

      J, you could’ve saved yourself a lot of time by just writing: “I’m ignorant”.

    • T
      November 3, 2014

      Day of the Dead is celebrated on Nov. 2 in hispanic tradition, not Oct. 31. She is not commenting on Halloween celebrations, which are completely separate from day of the dead.

      • J
        November 3, 2014

        So why did she make this blog post on October 31? I don’t understand what it is you’re implying here. I’ll grant you the fact that I just assumed DOTD was on the 31st, but..I don’t really get it. Wouldn’t it make more sense to, I dunno, make the actual post on Nov. 2? because to anyone not acquainted very well with foreign holidays, it very well just looks like she’s comparing Halloween to the DOTD, excuse me for daring to challenge context.

    • Hilaire
      November 3, 2014

      J,
      White people did not discover the Americas, nor did they “settle” it. They invaded. They destroyed. And they displaced the people, the culture and the languages that existed throughout the lands before Europeans decided to make a profit off the backs of the natives, before they decided it was their duty as white people to “save”/convert/white-wash the “savages” and make the land “useful”. Your ignorance is outstanding, and you make me ashamed to be white. Also, what the hell is the “average” American? Perhaps you should figure out who really made this country, what people bled and died so you could feel so privileged to call it your home and not theirs, considering their ancestors have been here longer than yours. Also… Puerto Ricans are American. How about this, use your “American” air and internet to find some history books that don’t focus on the Master Narrative of the White Colonist, but rather include every other race and culture that has been here, if not just as long, then much longer then yours.

      • William Baronet
        November 3, 2014

      • Kathleen G. Coleman
        October 6, 2016

        It’s insane that people are still complaining about Europeans conquering North and South America 600 years ago. Seriously, it was centuries ago! And the,”give it back,” argument is ludicrous as well. I guess you want the Aztecs to kidnap you in the middle of the night, sacrifice you to the sun gods, and then expand their territory into your homelands. There were many indigenous wars, massacres, land takeovers, kidnappings, forced marriages etc. so the Europeans were not behaving any differently that the residents of the lands they conquered. It was less civilized then, but all nations now have borders, laws, government etc. We may not like the end results of history, but the Europeans beat the indigenous, and Mexico sold off a lot of it’s land. You can’t claim it was stolen if it was purchased from Mexico, fair and square. No refunds, no exchanges.

    • Jeff Bryant
      November 3, 2014

      J: First, if you go back to the colonizing of the USA, 80 percent of the people who arrived between 1500 and 1820 were African. Your first point is factually incorrect. Whites were outnumbered from the beginning, but later more people such as the Irish (not considered really white at the time) arrived and other “non-white” ethnic groups had more restricted immigration status. Things evened out over time. Chinese people had a hard time immigrating after the railroads were done. Whiteness is a subjective and BS term. Its more about personal identification with an ancestry, for instance in Mexico, Spanish. You don’t seem to possess the basic understanding of racial politics in Hispanic countries.

      Second, are you aware that Puerto Rico is not a foreign country? Its a US territory. Puerto Ricans are US citizens just without representation as a state. If any of them move to a state, they are not immigrants any more than I am an immigrant for moving from California to New York. They can move to any state and register to vote there. They already have protection of “free speech.” They cannot come and steal American jobs, because they are….you guessed it…American.

      Before telling other people their arguments are “weak” perhaps you should evaluate and truth test what you say. I find it to make some good points, while at the same time ignores the fact that those who would wear Dio de Los Muertos facepaint are almost exclusively white liberals who are cool with immigrants. They do of course wear it like fashion while not being aware of things like the femincide in Juarez. They aren’t paying attention to the issues activists in the Hispanic community want them to. Its a little over-simplistic, because activists in US culture don’t represent normal people. I don’t think its racist or necessarily colonization if the people honor the true intent of the holiday and perhaps raise awareness of issues like whats happening in Juarez. We should be careful not to let our voices define a tradition that we don’t understand. Its similar to how white people are obsessed with Native American spirituality to the point where white people are starting to drown out the voices of the actual shaman and speak for them. We need to address these things. Yes her argument has some lack of nuance, but your criticism of it is just embarrassing.

      You can come back with what you might think is a witty reply, which I as somebody who has worked for years in Central America as an archaeologists and anthropologist could easily rip apart, or you could look up Dio de Los Muertos and learn more about it and maybe google the “ladies of Juarez.” You have the opportunity to be more informed. Thats a better outcome than a pointless argument with somebody you don’t know.

      • J
        November 3, 2014

        So, if Puerto Rico is not a foreign country as just you say (and you are correct), “colonizing” is an oxymoron. Puerto Rico is a unincorporated territory. They already enjoy the benefits of a US Court system, and our rights and amendments because they’re apart of us, we have control and lay claim to her homeland as apart of or an extension of us hereby..so why is she acting is if her culture isn’t apart of ours then? isn’t, by the very definition of her country being a US territory, her culture and countries traditions now apart of us? she’s a Puerto Rican American now, not a Puerto Rican.

      • ronwf
        November 3, 2014

        “First, if you go back to the colonizing of the USA, 80 percent of the people who arrived between 1500 and 1820 were African”.

        Hm. That seems odd to me. Got a citation for that?

    • Arie Kuipers
      November 3, 2014

      Is this seriously an issue? The only white people I know that celebrate dia de los muertos are 6th graders that are forced to do so by their Spanish teachers.

    • bigc
      November 3, 2014

      Spanish people is not the proper term for Puerto ricans, mexicans, etc. They speak spanish, they are not spanish. That is all. 🙂

      • bulbastre
        November 3, 2014

        As a Spaniard, thanks, someone had to say it.

      • A
        November 3, 2014

        Most of them come from spanish ancestors, especially in northern mexico! So there is more than just the language!

    • Hank Martin
      November 3, 2014

      Well, first of all, white people did not create America, Native Americans and Latin Americans did that. Secondly, a large part of the reason all those folks come to the U.S. Is because they have to to survive and for their families to survive. For many, it rips out their hearts to leave their homes and loved ones. Just saying:)

    • Mexica Lands
      November 3, 2014

      You should read up on your history J, with the “TREATY OF HIDALGO” and the incorporation of the Mexican land came mexican peoples which were already settled in “your ” America, so you see this is our country. I believe you are of eoropean decent so the only real Americans are natives that were here, before your white men “created” anything.

    • Connor
      November 3, 2014

      “Dear Aya de Leon, I didn’t read the whole article, but…”

      “But my opinions are too important for that to matter!”

      Oh, internet.

    • Martha Rodriguez
      November 3, 2014

      Dear Ms. J. American:
      In whatever backward, small-minded, town you live in as an “average American”, how is it that you have become such an expert on what “average” Americans think and do? Before you rattle on about what “average” Americans think and do, perhaps you should study geography and know that America, or the United States is full of cities and towns of INDIVIDUALS from various backgrounds, cultures who’s ancestors came from countries whose first languages may or may not have been English – you included.Please research and study a little. Whether you in your town know this or not, living in America means that we often adapt new holidays and celebrations from living beside each other. Perhaps in your homogenized environment, you have not experienced this. I’m sure you do not mean to come off as an ignorant buffoon. I do believe you need to travel outside of the borders of your own town, know people beyond your circle of friends and get to know the country you claim to be such an expert on. The U.S. is much more diverse than you imply in your mini-tirade. I suggest a trip to educate yourself or reading about the goings on outside of your “American” town. One other point, “the Americas have been predominately white since..well forever. It was a bunch of white males who created the Declaration of Independence, and it was white males who settled North America, mostly.”-your quote. Well, you failed to look back many more thousands of years. The Americas have not been predominantly white. The history of Native Americans in our country has been traced back 12,000 years to a site in Montana. Going farther back, their ancestry has been traced to Siberia and East China. Needless to say, it was not white Americans who settled this country.

      • J
        November 3, 2014

        Except we’re not talking about Native Americans. There’s that word again, “American”. Since you’ve decided to name yourself as, “Martha Rodriguez”, I’m going to take a guess and say you’re of some sort of Spanish descent, but that is of the guess of a “uneducated buffoon”.

        Also, while Native Americans lived here before us, what the fuck does that have to do with the settling of current NA? nothing. The author lives in San Francisco, she’s talking about white males. What point exactly does bringing up the Indians make? we’re talking about white males of the last 200 years here.

        Also, let me introduce you to a concept called a “US territory”. Puerto Rico is one, as well as a Unincorporated territory. Ms. Aya is of both African Descent and Puerto Rican.

        We don’t “share” holidays. Puerto Rico is an extension of the Untied States of America, and Puerto Ricans..huh. What’s that? that’s weird, since after all we’re invading and colonizing what is distinctly a holiday of her homeland, but somehow they have the right to celebrate American holidays.

        […]Puerto Rico celebrates all official U.S holidays, and a number of other official holidays established by the Commonwealth government..[…]

        I can’t imagine that’s hypocrisy at all.

        Let’s see what Puerto Rico celebrates that is distinctly “American.”

        New Year’s Day
        Christmas Eve
        Christmas
        Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
        Presidents’ Day
        Washington’s Birthday
        Memorial Day
        Day of the Dead (not the same way Mexicans do, but they still celebrate it)

        Strange how somehow we’re “colonizing” her homelands holiday (even technically when she’s Puerto Rican and half African American, not Mexican..) but she seems to forget Puerto Rico has “colonized” plenty of our holidays our “multi-cultural” nation celebrates. Do you see me shouting “Puerto Rican invaders!” at the top of my lungs like a racist to the ones who observe Halloween? nope, because I’m not a hypocrite like this lady.

    • Jenny
      November 3, 2014

      Trollolololol. Shut up, idiot.

    • Ava Leal (@UnderINK)
      November 3, 2014

      “the Americas have been predominately white since..well forever. It was a bunch of white males who created the Declaration of Independence, and it was white males who settled North America, mostly.”

      ^ No, the Americas were *entirely brown* before Europeans immigrated here. White men didn’t settle this land – IT WAS ALREADY SETTLED. Indigenous tribes had cities, temples, trade routes and bartering, and thriving cultures. What you MEANT to say was white men *stole it all and ploughed over the settlements already there*.

      • Steve
        November 5, 2014

        The native americans did, indeed, have their infrastructure…after they came over and settled the land via land bridge, from Asia. Now, There’s even evidence there may have been people before them, people THEY killed, pillaged, and run off the land. They also had their own languages, and tribal customs. They invaded and killed each other over territory, too. Human Beings are the same…since the beginning of time. “faulty bias” is an inherent trait of the human being; as long as there have been more than one individual on this earth, there’s been bias.

    • kellychristineflores
      January 15, 2016

      Spanish people are Spaniards and are white/European. I don’t understand who you are talking about when you say ‘Spanish’ people? Are you referring to Spanish speaking people? Which by the way, most indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central and South America wouldn’t be speaking Spanish, a white mans language, if the Spanish didn’t come and conquer that area. I suggest you learn some geography before just using the term ‘Spanish people’. I literally laughed when I saw your comment.

  4. Candace Cruz
    November 3, 2014

    Thank you very much for standing up for your rights about your culture belief. This happens within my own culture, and how the US chooses to colonize it because they feel they have the upper hand. You have my voice, to help speak up this matter.

    • Matthew Rothenberg
      November 3, 2014

      Except it’s not her culture. Her family is from Puerto Rico, not Mexico or Central America, which means she has as much of a claim on the Day of the Dead as I do. Only I’m not arrogant enough to pretend I do.

      • Connor
        November 3, 2014

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Puerto_Rico

        No, but you’re arrogant enough to pretend Puerto Ricans don’t observe the Day of the Dead.

      • Matthew Rothenberg
        November 4, 2014

        I’m sorry I can’t reply to Connor directly, so I’ll do it here.

        His Wikipedia link doesn’t mention the Day of the Dead among Puerto Rican holidays, so I’m not sure why he included it.

        However, I’m sure there are a few people on that Caribbean island who have assimilated the Day of the Dead. It’s still appropriation, even if it’s done with respect. I lived in San Diego for years in close association with people to whom this festival is native — that doesn’t give me the right to claim that it’s my tradition.

        If she wants to revisit this as a respectful outsider, she should stop photobombing the Day of the Dead by pretending to have a cultural claim on it. Otherwise, she’s just a dilettante with greasepaint.

  5. corey
    November 3, 2014

    But mexicans are on their indiginous land mexicans were in California before white people why are the white people not learning the language of mexico?. California native language is spanish homeboy

  6. Db108
    November 3, 2014

    You realize that you have as much of the colonizers blood flowing through your veins as indigenous blood, right? You are not a Tzotzil farming a milpa on a hillside in Chiapas, and it’s really disingenuous to make that comparison. Beside, Day of the Dead is as much a Catholic celebration as it is an indigenous one.

    I understand your point. but the inflammatory manner in which you make your case obscures the fact that you too are appropriating an indigenous identity (and all of the connotations and realities that entails which have very little to do with your life) to your own ends.

  7. Geo
    November 3, 2014

    I understand that you bothered by seeing non-latin americans using the day of the dead as a
    costume or so but the truth is you yourself are not mexican. You speak of such bothersome as if this is affecting you, you talk about the history of the day of the dead. If you really think about it every culture celebrate every culture, most mexicans do not have the ‘right’ to be considered american as do Puerto Ricans, im just saying its awesome that you have an interest towards our culture pero the thing is that your being a hypocrite like anyone that blames another about what histroy caused. Like you said everyone have their way to celebrate it, you should just choose something that belongs about your culture. Might sound like an ass but im coming from a mexican culture. Oh yeah almost forgot …. you mentioned that you are PR but lived in California. If it doesn’t bother mexicans, of other trying to be either part or just doing halfsies on that their life. Leave our culture out of something that bothers you specially with you not being mexican

    • Geo
      November 3, 2014

      I apologize about my mistakes Im typing out of a phone.

  8. kellymcquain
    November 3, 2014

    I live in Philadelphia, in one of its most diverse neighborhoods. We give candy to our Mexican neighbors’ trick-or-treaters, and we live by the Mexican Market and Italian Market on 9th Street and attend the many cultural festivals of our Italian, Asian and Latino neighbors. Sharing cultural traditions provides ambassadorial goodwill and helps remind us that in many we are one. That there is such diversity here is one of the things I love about Philadelphia. I’m happy to share the holidays and folklore of my forbears, and I appreciate it when other cultures are willing to share theirs. I understand the writer’s gripe (one gay friend gripes about straight women increasingly holding their “girl’s’ night out” in gay bars). No one wants to feel like their culture is being poached. But I say let in all those who want to explore new traditions with an open heart. This world is for sharing. http://www.KellyMcQuain.wordpress.com

  9. Crystal
    November 3, 2014

    I hear you. Thank you.

  10. Anna
    November 3, 2014

    I understand where this is coming from, but there are some issues here. In the very beginning of this article the author states that she is Puerto Rican, and then goes on to accuse white people of taking her culture’s holiday. Funny thing is, dia de los muertos is not celebrated in Puerto Rico as it is in Mexico, so already there is some hypocrisy. I would also like to point out how unlikely it is that white people are the only ones in the entire country starting to partake in this holiday. It is wholly unfair to point the finger at so many people without knowing their reasons (or even if they actually are “colonizing” this holiday) for starting to celebrate in the Mexican tradition on all saints day, a christian holiday that also got its origins in Europe.

  11. Regan (@SincerelyBoots)
    November 3, 2014

    ^ “I have not read this whole article, nor do I have a solid understanding of neo-colonialism or privilege, but I’m going to be a dick to you because your agency threatens a system in which I benefit.”

    This was a good read. Well written and I am glad your voice is being heard. Don’t stop writing.

    • Ben Gillock
      November 3, 2014

      ah, perfect. thanks for responding to every hater here.

    • J
      November 3, 2014

      Take your buzzwords and shove them back up your throat, please. Ms. Aya here is not Mexican, she’s Puerto Rican and African American. A two second Google search can tell you what holidays Puerto Ricans are officially recognized as celebrating:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_holidays_in_Puerto_Rico

      I see a lot of American Holidays like:

      New Year’s Day
      Christmas Eve
      Christmas
      Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
      Presidents’ Day
      Washington’s Birthday
      Memorial Day

      which is strange because we’re “colonizing” or, “appropriating” a holiday that is specifically of her homeland (unofficially, I’m guessing because I don’t see it on that article) and people, when her homeland is a US territory and extension of the US, but that’d be “problematic” and “inconvenient” for you to talk about, wouldn’t it?

      Nothing like talking to hypocritical pseudo-intellectuals who believe and are drowning in a sea of their own BS rhetoric.

      • Natasha
        November 4, 2014

        Uh New Year’s and Christmas aren’t exclusively American holidays.

  12. Geo
    November 3, 2014

    Shes just a hypocrite. Who thinksbthat just cause she lives or lived in California she has the right to talk about a culture shes not part of…. makibg a fool of herself

  13. Kim
    November 3, 2014

    As a Hispanic American woman, I would like to say that this article is outrageous. Are you insane? People can dress up however they want on Halloween. This costume is at NO ONE’S expense. It’s a free country. The people dressing in this costume are those who are EMBRACING the culture. You think the right-wings who do not want immigrants are dressing up in Dia De Los Muertos costumes? Once again I will ask, are you insane? May I add darling, that you are “Puerto Rican” which has NOTHING to do with being Latina/Chicana, etc. YOU, my friend, are WHITE. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens who get all of the benefits of being U.S. citizens without doing any of the work. I highly doubt you personally have faced any kind of adversity in your life. The only thing making me have any faith in humanity is the number of comments on this article expressing hatred towards it. THERE IS HOPE FOR AMERICA, THANK YOU PEOPLE!

    • bulbastre
      November 3, 2014

      So expressing hatred restores faith in humanity. ‘Muricans.

    • Jenny
      November 3, 2014

      She wasn’t talking about dressing in a costume, she was talking about white people appropriating the Day of the Dead holiday and white washing it, excluding the people, food, art, etc… of the people the holiday belongs to. Totally different thing than dressing up on Halloween.

      • J
        November 3, 2014

        So, why didn’t she post this on Nov. 2 and instead on October 31st? it can be taken as a clear comparison to Halloween, when that would be inaccurate, as Halloween has lot’s of inspiration, and I wouldn’t say Dia De Los Muertos is the strongest one.

        Makes no sense not to post about a holiday on that holiday, it’s kind of off-putting because she lives in San Francisco and not in Puerto Rico, and traditionally on OCT 31 Halloween is celebrated. She’s also Puerto Rican and African American, not really “Mexican” so.. she just comes off as a hipster.

    • Bishop643
      November 3, 2014

      Amen!

    • Sin Vergüenza
      November 3, 2014

      “Hispanic”-American. There’s the flag. It’s SO red.

      White people– just like all people– have the “right” to do and wear whatever they want. True.
      What is ALSO true is that we (those of us who care enough to resist colonization) have the right to call them on their racist BS.

      Freedom of speech doesn’t grant you freedom from criticism, my “High-spanic” hermana.

    • Giomy
      February 23, 2018

      What do you mean shes “white” because shes puerto rican or that puerto ricans arent latinos in general? thats the most absurd thing i have ever heard. Im not puerto rican, but Puerto Ricans have their own culture, speak spanish, are the third most influencial in the Latin music industry, and have contributed to popular styles like Reggaeton and Salsa. How then are they not Latino? Just because they got sold to the US after the war with spain doesnt make them any less latino than Mexico or Colombia. Now, do they celebrate Dia De los Muertos? some do, some dont. MY friend is half Mexican and half puerto rican and her mother (the puerto rican one) celebrates Day of the Dead with the family. And their household has the most mixed traditions ive ever seen. They eat freaking arroz con gandules with enchiladas.

  14. Laura Winfree de Mendez
    November 3, 2014

    Interesting article and lots to think about, but I have to say the same happens in reverse. I am a white person / gringa / gabacha living in Mexico, and in the past few years I have seen Mexico appropriate Halloween in a big way. A Mexican friend of mine sells jack-o-lanterns which have become increasingly popular, and the kids in my Mexican neighborhood have certainly appropriated Halloween by trick-or-treating any evening between October 29 and November 2 and using the now-familiar chant “Queremos Halloween!” And even Day of the Dead here in Mexico has been heavily influenced by Halloween… this year all my friends (myself included!) painted their faces as the famous Catrina because now Day of the Dead isn’t complete without costumes. (And there are plenty of Halloween celebrations in my part of Mexico with absolutely zero reference to artists from the US and Europe.) I’m not complaining about any of this; I actually enjoy the colorful mix of the two holidays. I’m just saying that it’s not only “white people / gringos / gabachos” who are appropriating. It’s globalization. Mexico and US cultures are heavily influencing each other, which is great in my opinion so long as old traditions don’t get lost.

    • Sin Vergüenza
      November 4, 2014

      One is appropriation the other is cultural imperialism. There’s a big difference and until you understand it, maybe you need to be quiet.

      And wash that face paint off while you’re at it.

  15. raulgb1
    November 3, 2014

    Reblogged this on raulgb1.

  16. El Chupacabra
    November 3, 2014

    My Mexican brothers and sisters are just as guilty of buying shoddy plastic crap for holidays as any other culture. Fighting consumerism is a noble fight. Fighting people of different skin color and/or ancestry is not. Keep your eye on the ball

  17. lesldock
    November 3, 2014

    This is fantastically written and incredibly helpful. Thank you for having the patience to explain this to white people, and the bravery to put your frustration out into a world that responds with insensitivity and rudeness (as evidenced by so many comments). Also a poignant observation about dominant white culture; we suppress our feelings of grief and loss, rather than celebrate and hold space for them. I feel often that as I watch the world around me my grief feels hard to hold, and yearn for space to share it with others who feel the same. Next year, maybe I can use Halloween as a time to do that.

  18. Chicago
    November 3, 2014

    What really is to blame for the “cheapening” and “colonization” of the Holidays is globalization. We live in a world that is more connected than ever and people will find an excuse to get drunk and party under a them no matter what. Just check out the St. Patrick’s Day green beer/Guiness Parties around the world. It goes both ways!

  19. Ian
    November 3, 2014

    I don’t understand why this is a white thing and how you are making this about race. Reverse racism is a thing and this whole article is stinking with hate.

    • Sin Vergüenza
      November 4, 2014

      “Reverse racism is a thing”

      Yeah…. It’s called “resistance” and it’s not the same thing.

  20. Erica
    November 3, 2014

    Hmm – I’m Latina and I’m white. My mother moved to the US after she graduated college and was in her early twenties. She is white, she has an accent, she is 100% Latina. We spent our summers abroad, we were raised bi-lingual. I know my culture, I know who and what I am. And really, I’m so sick of other Latinas that are of mixed race telling me that because I am white I am not Latina. Go to Spain, visit Argentina and Uruguay which have a high percentage of European descent (in the mid 90th percentile). Become informed. And stop being so racist in assuming you must be of an Afro or Native culture mixed with Spanish in order to be Latina.

  21. Sonora
    November 3, 2014

    Hipsters ruin everything. Let’s come together over our shared hatred of their ironic massacre of any thing truly authentic.

  22. Captain Awesome
    November 3, 2014

    To her I say, FUCK OFF! I’m hispanic and I welcome any race to partake in any Hispanic traditions. This is how people learn to understand Latin culture and understanding is the beginning of dialogue. Dialogue is the beginning of peaceful coexistence. If she doesn’t like the melting pot that is the United States she can go back to her country and stop spreading messages that encourage racial separation. If she had a dick I would kick it.

  23. Chris Hawley
    November 3, 2014

    I guess I’m a globalist. I’d share “my” traditions with anybody, and as cultural evolution is a natural phenomenon, I’d expect “my” traditions to show up elsewhere with alterations. Religious holidays, languages, recipes, skin color and genetic makeup … they all borrow and change and become something else that is just as valid as their origins. I’d respect someone’s right to boycott an event they didn’t deem genuine, but they can’t reasonably expect everybody else to feel or act the same.

  24. maitais
    November 3, 2014

    From another woman of color, don’t hate. You seem to be playing up the hipster microbrew white subculture stereotypes yourself. Don’t be mad at folks with cultural curiosity supporting your indigenous folks. I don’t see anyone being turned away for signing up for the $60 sugar skull making class and being educated on the REALNESS of the day instead. While I appreciate your passion, you really ought to try applying a more intellectual filter.

  25. J
    November 3, 2014

    I’m a Mexican American, well I call myself that only because my parents are Mexican but I was born in the U.S. They became U.S citizens a long time ago. Anyways, I personally LOVE Halloween because I get to dress up and it’s fun. My parents never celebrated dia de los Muertos because they came from a poor family and could not afford some of the materials but they did get to go visit their family members graves, clean their space and say some prayers. That’s what we do when we get a chance but if not then we just pray in remembrance of them. We celebrate their memory and impressions they left behind in daily conversations and family gatherings.
    It’s great that the writer wanted to defend this tradition but it came across inappropriately. The U.S. is a culture created by many cultures and it will upset other cultures when they celebrate a particular holiday but instead of criticizing or adding criticism it would be best to inform what the holiday is about in their culture.

  26. Joe
    November 3, 2014

    Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. You come across as a very understanding person, and the illusion seems heartfelt, but you can’t understand both sides of a situation unless you’ve been there. I don’t try to, I understand my side, and I am told what happens on the other. For example, my dad was a happy and moderately well set construction worker. He’s completely broke now becuause Hispanics came to where we live and took his work. Was he mad? Of course he was! Did he go out of his way to diminish their culture? No, he didn’t. He still gets called racial terms by Hispanics (or are white people allowed to be called something, I don’t know) and he still keeps his head up and respects everyone. Maybe he shouldn’t though…

  27. Antonia
    November 3, 2014

    Thank you for writing this.

  28. Bishop643
    November 3, 2014

    I feel sorry for you. Attempting to spread more hate in a world that is already filled to the brim with it. You apparently like America, and you want to stay here, I presume? You enjoy our holidays, created by our ancestors, yet you don’t want us to celebrate yours? I saw plenty of Mexicans trick or treating this year. In fact, I sat on my porch and gave them candy. I live on the border of Mexico and America, so I obviously live amongst Mexicans. The ones I know, we’re excited to see their holiday and culture take off in the country in which they are ALLOWED to reside in. We’re a WHITE US military family, I’m also the child of a retired vet, we live the way we do so you may live freely and talk s**t about Americans. If I want to put skulls all over my house and have a fiest (which I don’t), I damn well will. If you don’t want us to “approach” your culture, get out of our country and take your culture with you.

    • Bishop643
      November 3, 2014

      *feast (dang autocorrect)

      • Sin Vergüenza
        November 4, 2014

        You didn’t read this at all, did you? She’s Puerto Rican.

        I shouldn’t be surprised. Most Murricans are functionally illiterate.

    • Bishop643
      November 4, 2014

      I did read the article, thank you. I never said she was any other ethnicity. I used “Mexican” as an example, as they celebrate The Day of the Dead in their culture, like she does. By the way, I’m American. If you’re going to attempt to disrespect me and my fellow citizens, do it right. **Muricans. Functionally illiterate.

  29. ronwf
    November 3, 2014

    Unfortunately this is a process that has gone on with every holiday in the U.S. Christmas used to be a holiday for celebrating one of the fundamental events in Christian culture and for exchanging some gifts among close family and friends. Now it’s an economic whirlwind such that we start getting hammered to buy, buy, buy starting before Halloween (when I was a child in Massachusetts, you’d have gotten your store boycotted if you’d had anything for Christmas up before the day after Thanksgiving). The sacredness and spirituality of the holiday is being ground into dust. Memorial Day used to be a day of observances of the sacrifices made by those who fought for our country. Now it’s a 3-day drunkfest. Thanksgiving was a major holiday and a time for thanking Almighty God for what we have. Now it is getting absolutely and I believe deliberately buried – it’s not even the kickoff for the Christmas buying season anymore.

    I suspect the trend started when President Nixon decided to take many date-specific holidays (e.g., Washington and Lincoln’s birthdays, Memorial Day, Veterans’ Day) and move them to the Monday after the closest weekend for economic purposes at the behest of employers. That cheapened the meaning and made the economic component of them more important than the spiritual and cultural ones.

    My views tend to be conservative. I suspect the writer’s are not. But I am sympathetic. However, I will ask you to understand that this is not racism. Your comments on Halloween are on point, but not broad enough. This is an overall cultural degradation that envelops everything in America.

  30. Cory
    November 3, 2014

    This reminds me of the fairly odd parents episode when everyone is transformed into grey blobs so everyone is the same.. Their will always be the grey blob that thinks they are better than everyone else and thinks the way they live is above all others.. So in a nutshell it’s this close minded person behind this article.. I feel sorry for you maybe you have a difficult time accepting yourself and have always been jealous of what white people have or what you think white people have you’d call it white privilege. I’ve never been given a damn thing in my life and I’m white I have worked for everything I own.. So for someone to say just because I’m not a certain colored skin I cannot celebrate a holiday it makes me think history is always doomed to repeat itself..

  31. Kyle
    November 3, 2014

    ACTUALLY: our version of Halloween Is a basic decendant of the Celtic festival, samhain. People would dress in costume celebrate spirits, carve turniups as wards, and cleanse their houses with fires. I appreciate both cultures, but we don’t see the Welsh being this needy for attention.

  32. Trevor
    November 3, 2014

    Why I found the article problematic, point by point:

    The author is an English-speaking American raised in Oakland, CA of Puerto Rican heritage claiming ownership of a Mexican and Central American holiday. Day of the Dead is not a pan-latino holiday.

    The author portrays modern “white people” as European colonizers and latino people as indigenous. Spanish is not a Native American language, and latinos are NOT an indigenous community. That she suggests this is harmful to actual indigenous communities and their struggles.

    The author addresses “white people” as if it’s impossible to be latina and white. Many latina commenters corrected her on this. There are many “white” latino people.

    Many Mexican people in the comments said their culture is warm and open and they have no problem with outsiders celebrating this holiday. Many think it’s a positive thing that it’s not just globalized American culture influencing Mexico, but Mexico influencing U.S. culture.

    The last point begs the question: Who owns a culture? Cultures are not dogmatic religions with a single leader. There are no clear boundaries, and members of the same culture never agree on everything. When one Mexican (and the article writer is not Mexican) says it’s okay for outsiders to celebrate, and another says it’s not okay, who do we listen to? Do we, as outsiders have a right to empower one over the other when they are both owners of their own culture?

    • kellymcquain
      November 4, 2014

      Good points.

    • Elizabeth Raquel Sanchez
      November 6, 2014

      Trevor, I would like to add one more thought. Our country is all about assimilation. I would think that she would be appreciative, if not honored, that “Whites” (she didn’t mention Black or Asian people) want to participate in an important part of our culture.

      I agree with your points and am very insulted that she is claiming DDLM as her own.

  33. Heidi
    November 3, 2014

    Really beautifully written.for those with negative comments-shut your mouth.I’m white.I can Appreciate/celebrate others cultures and rituals without demeaning it,and so can you!

  34. Christl Wakeland
    November 3, 2014

    Seriously? This is why you’re upset? Because “whites” don’t celebrate “your” holiday in the correct fashion? Seems silly, and sounds racist. You want the holiday to be celebrated traditionally, then throw your own party, get yourself a Mexican sponsor, and hire nothing but Mexican vendors. I’d like to see how “clean” things are left afterwards. $20 says there’ll be filth and Corona bottles everwhere! The article for the most part is well written and factual, but you can’t honestly believe only white people break your traditions, it’s all races, your own included. If you wanna educate people on the traditions of this holiday, then go for it, but don’t twist it into a racial slur of bullshit and then sit and wonder why so many people are racist against you! Smh! Perhaps while you’re educating people, you could educate them on how to speak English, if they’re going to live in America. Or how to get a job that actually contributes to the economy, not working under the table. How to work with the people of this country, not against them. How to “share” your traditions, not complain about how everyone else is doing it wrong. You want all the rights and freedom that America has to offer, yet you don’t want to contribute to anything America needs from every single person to continue being the country that it is! STOP trying to change The USA! Either conform yourself to suit The Land of the Free, or go back to where you came from!!!

  35. grouseview
    November 4, 2014

    Nice of you to display your ignorance of other cultures. Mexico makes horror movies too. All cultures have mix relationships and views toward death and dying, yet you seem to think hollywood movies present the full picture of “white” culture toward it. First off, let me educate you on “white” people. That is a nonsense term that lumps many complex cultures into one, this is where your misunderstandings begin. Please, pick two different “white” cultures and do an actual study on their views towards death.

    Secondly, it’s too bad you lump all “white” people together and put the racist, anti-immigration ones in the same boats as those who are curious with your own culture. Open your narrow mind.

  36. Banano
    November 4, 2014

    Smells like more of the kind of racist isolationist thinking that is part of the problem. Just look at how many times she uses the term “white” in her rant, using blanket statements to attack all people with white skin. If you replaced white with black people would be flipping out. Anyways I’d think sharing culture would be a good thing, the spreading of customs has been going on for as long as we have. Don’t forget of course the origin of these holidays is ultimately shared anyways, and that origin isn’t from latin america. How about we stop irresponsibly forcing a wedge between the races, it just polarizes people and causes more hate. Plus it disgusts the hell out of me, frankly I would be ashamed of myself if I posted something like that.

  37. cobey
    November 4, 2014

    But isnt that really just a practice that all cultures have done? Romans stole from Greeks. Christians, Jews, Muslims have all stolen from each other. Celtics and Nordic religions stole from Christianity. Those are just religious examples. As a culturally diverse nation we have all stolen from each other. How many people celebrate Octoberfest (German), St Patricks Day (Irish), Cinco de Mayo (Mexican), Valentines Day (Christian). Those are a few. Do people of various ethnic backgrounds not celebrate the 4th of July (United States Celebration of Independence – Not to be confused with Canadian or Mexican Independence which is also celebrated in those countries by people of various origins.) No, sadly, people do not get to lay a claim to holidays and traditions. Instead of complaining about “white people” trying to take your holiday, you should instead embrace the fact that your tradition is viewed so highly as to be accepted by a wide variety of diverse peoples. Take pride in your heritage, but take more pride at the fact that it is strong enough to be appealing to others and be included into their own sense of belonging instead of being a tradition that is stomped out of existence. This is simply how civilization works. You can accept it or it will accept you, but it will not stop. It will simply continue to adapt and to grow and learn from all those involved.

  38. bryan
    November 4, 2014

    This article seems to start out nice and friendly only to end with a typical “white” culture bashing. It’s the only socially accepted form of racism left in america. You ignorantly combine everyone into one pot of scum and trample over all the real families with real traditions. Come celebrate with my family and families like mine and you’ll see why I feel offended. I agree that you’re holiday deserves some respect but you don’t have to trample ours to get yours.

  39. Adrian
    November 4, 2014

    The problem is that, for all the relevant points the author brings up, the article IS offensive. In the title she applies two assumptions to all “white” people: 1. They want to appropriate and reduce Mexican culture. 2. They don’t want actual hispanic people.

    Any time you generalize a behavior or attitude and apply it to an entire group of people, you’ve already engaged in bigoted behavior.

    The author then goes on to lump together the dozens of traditions for dealing with death from cultures that could be identified as “white” and describe them as practices “that suppresses grief, hides death, banishes it, celebrates it only in the most morbid ways”.

    There is a valid nugget in this mess that the author has cobbled together. Unfortunately, it is overshadowed by her bigotry, self-righteousness, and simplistic thinking.

    • Elizabeth Raquel Sanchez
      November 6, 2014

      I am American Hispanic and am offended by her blog post. As someone of Mexican descent, I can assure you that Mexicans welcome outsiders without prejudice. Further, if we expect assimilation in our country, I think it is an honor to have other Americans celebrate with us.

      Since she took it upon herself to claim the day as her own and dismiss White people from congregating with us to celebrate this joyous day in our culture, I apologize for her racism and ignorance and assure you that her racist position is not widely held.

  40. Robert Fixer Smith
    November 4, 2014

    Why can a Mexican tradition be absorbed as a Puerto RIcan tradition and be ok? Why would anyone expect a Celtic tradition to be celebrated by any “white” person? The only answer to these are if you one see the world thru a racial lense that sees all “brown” people the same and all “white” people the same.

  41. Max
    November 4, 2014

    As a Scottish/Irish-American, I have a few things to say about this… The history of Halloween as we know it today can be traced back to Scotland in the 18th century. It started out as a cultural appropriation by the Catholic Church from Scottish traditions of honoring the dead annually after the last harvest of the year. From there, it spread around the world. Most cultures have had similar rituals of mourning, remembering, celebrating, and honoring the dead. This sort if thing is not unique to Mexico.

    It’s becoming sort of insulting to keep hearing about cultural appropriation only applying to people of color. It’s as though “white people” have no culture to speak of. I understand that people of color in many places around the world have suffered greatly at the hands of “the white man.” I also understand that as a white man, I can’t really fathom what it means or feels like to be a person of color on a day to day basis. I do appreciate the struggle…

    However, I do sort of resent the fact that I’m not allowed to mention that the Irish were no strangers to slavery. In fact, Irish slaves were going for 1/10 the price of black slaves during the 17th century. The Irish were also treated more harshly because they were so cheap. Black slaves costing more, it was in the owners best interest to keep them alive and healthy so they could work.

    Consider for a moment the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. What percentage of society really knows why they are wearing green on that day? I imagine it’s very low – perhaps lower than the percentage of people who know the origins of sugar skull iconography and the purpose of the Day of the Dead (which to be honest, is sort of self-explanatory). So you know, the wearing of green on St. Patrick’s Day is more cultural appropriation (again, by the Catholic church) to some extent…

    Wearing green was originally supposed to be a show of support for those who died trying to reclaim Ireland from the British – if you were caught wearing green, you were either facing arrest, beating, or hanging. Later, it became representative of the memory of St. Patrick and how he brought Christianity to Ireland, and to celebrate Irish culture. I’m no historian (as you can probably tell), but I doubt my people ever used to wear sparkly green top hats and say “have ye seen me lucky charms?” to each other (a cereal box mascot I could easily say is racist and culturally insulting). I don’t think this is really honoring Irish culture.

    Anyway, my point is this – I really don’t give a shit. As an Irish person, I don’t give a fuck that people who aren’t Irish want to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I don’t care that they don’t know what it means. I don’t care if all they think it’s for is to wear green and get fucked up. I couldn’t care less what other people do. Again, this could be my white privilege talking (since white people can’t be victims of racism), but it doesn’t fucking matter or bother me in the slightest. Anyone is welcome to make fun of Irish or Scottish culture right to my face.

    Also, you have no right to tell other people what to do. You have no right to tell people to respect you. You have no right to claim your heritage, customs, or traditions are exclusive to you and suggest that it requires some sort of bloodline membership to appreciate or enjoy or make fun of etc… What would you think of a person who saw you enjoying a glass of wine and walked up to you to say, “you’re drinking that out of the wrong type of glass, and you’re not Italian enough to enjoy wine from this vinyard!” You would think that guy was a douchebag, and you would say, “fuck you, I can drink what I want.” And yes, I do think everyone whining about cultural appropriation is an asshole.

    Nothing is “sacred,” and nothing is off limits. I definitely believe that things such as blackface makeup and having a sports team named an historically derogatory racist word like “redskin” is disrespectful and super inappropriate. Those are tied to racism and actual marginalization. A white person wearing sugar skull makeup or getting a sugar skull tattoo and celebrating dia de los muertos is not even close to marginalization. A line has to be drawn at intent – otherwise, we are going to lead down a path in which we segregate ourselves from each other, don’t share our cultural differences with each other, don’t spread knowledge, and don’t spread joy and love.

    We can’t have the good without the bad. If your feelings get hurt that people want to appreciate your culture in their own way, then that’s something wrong with you. In a time when most of us are a mix of different races and cultures as individuals, it’s too arrogant to assume you can request people check their bloodlines before enjoying something they find interesting – even if they don’t “get it.” It’s also pretty racist to suggest that other races aren’t allowed to celebrate Day of the Dead.

    • Max
      November 4, 2014

      Wait a minute – are you Mexican American, or are you Jamaican? I see you wearing dreadlocks – they have historically been culturally significant to many different regions and races… many except yours. Sounds like cultural appropriation to me – people in glass houses.

      If by chance you are of mixed descent and your ancestors wore dreadlocks, that’s even more reason why you should be more tolerant, accepting and understanding of cultural sharing. Shame on you. And I didn’t realize that was a picture of you at first, but now that I see it is, I have to say – your makeup job is so bad it’s more disrespectful than if a “gringo” wore it for Halloween.

      I also forgot to mention Oktoberfest – I doubt even 1% of people who celebrate it by drinking tons of beer or dressing up as bavarian beer garden girls (one of the most popular costumes) on Halloween or wearing lederhosen have the slightest clue how it originated. (I’ll let you look it up rather than give a history lesson). The Germans don’t give a shit either – they like that people celebrate with them.

      For the record – if you travel to other Countries, most of them have some sort of cheap cheesy version of iconic cultural clothing or accoutrements for tourists to consume. Most people are proud of their culture and want to share it with the world. If you go to Mexico, you can buy a cheap poncho and sombrero at every tourist shop. The cheaper version of the “costume” you can by at the Spirit store (which is arguably more offensive than dia de los muertos stuff – which you can also buy anywhere in tourist areas of Mexico) is hecho en Mexico.

      I think the offense you’re taking to this boils down to your own ignorance and racial bias. Money is money – you didn’t create Dia De Los Muertos, you don’t own it, and you don’t get to tell other people what to do… and again, you come off as quite racist and intolerant. I just wanted to say that one more time.

  42. Shochuuken
    November 4, 2014

    The Dalai Lama says it best. Seems the author and many here have a ways to go. Better luck in the next lfe.

    http://www.dalailama.com/messages/world-peace/a-human-approach-to-peace

    I have written the above lines
    To tell my constant feeling.
    Whenever I meet even a ‘foreigner’,
    I have always the same feeling:
    ‘I am meeting another member of the human family.,
    This attitude has deepened
    My affection and respect for all beings.
    May this natural wish be
    My small contribution to world peace.
    I pray for a more friendly,
    More caring, and more understanding
    Human family on this planet.
    To all who dislike suffering,
    Who cherish lasting happiness –
    This is my heartfelt appeal.

  43. Willbur
    November 4, 2014

    Just gonna throw this out there, North America from a scientific point has no native humans. The Clovis people from Siberia may have been the first but there have been findings that a group from the east migrated before then. So anyone who’s not Siberian or Asian decent, please leave now.

  44. Chance Noir
    November 4, 2014

    I am reminded of my college days by this rant. I was on the student council and wanted to provide the school, which had a majority Hispanic population, to celebrate cinco de mayo.

    Three weeks went buy and not one volteer came forward to organize it. Not one person took ownership and ran with it despite three different clubs dedicated to Latin culture on campus.

    Finally we almost had to cancel it due to lack of interest when a woman stepped forward and said she’d take it on for the students. We were all happy and moved on.

    The next week every Latin club showed up to protest a white woman running “their” party. Professor sponsors and all have big speeches and the poor volunteer was nearly in tears, she had only done it as no one else would.

    I finally had enough and asked them where they were for three weeks when we begged for someone to take it on? Why did none of their reps stand up and volunteer? I asked them if it mattered so much who ran it why didn’t they speak up and show this enthusiasm before? No answers.

    The council closed comments and kept the money with the volunteer telling the complainers to speak up and care earlier next year, their laziness wasn’t out issue.

    Guess what? The next year they volunteered day 1.

    Some times you have to loose something to appreciate it and fight for it.

  45. Joe
    November 4, 2014

    From what I can understand, the term native just means ‘I was here before you, disregard who was here before me’ in regards to whites and Hispanics, all cultures really. The largest purveyor of racism, is the group of people which claim they are suppressed. Are you an American? Than you share the same rights. Do you live in America? Than you live under the same pretenses as everyone else. Do you want to leave? You have the option to leave without repercussions. If you go to your local market and you don’t like their prices, stop shopping there. If you go to a local church preaching hate or distaste, stop attending. Everyone feels the need to complain about something, I think all human beings, white, brown, black, pink, yellow, grey, enjoy it, possibly need it. Why in this case does a group of predominatly peaceful sounding people, trying to understand another culture, become the target of racism and anti-acceptance?

  46. Stewart
    November 4, 2014

    So many crappy things (assuming) white people are saying. If you read all these statements from whitey, It’s clear how hateful and unworldly the group really is. Their world view stretches only ‘from sea to shining sea’ with inclusion and interest only for things that are ‘white’. I’m mostly anglo, a little American Indian and a little Roman empire. I’m damn proud of my friends of all races including African/Asian/Latino/Hispanic friends and equally embarrassed of the statements of the provincial, colonial boobs.

    Get a grip you elitist fools, the world is changing and your white-power thinking is making you look more and more like the breed most likely to die out in an uprising. The planet is about 1000 to 1, brown.

  47. Walton Burns
    November 4, 2014

    And all non-Indians, please stop practicing Buddhism. I’m looking at you, Japan and China, both colonizing powers by the way. Tibet, you may think you have adopted your own Tibetan Buddhism, but it’s offensive when you celebrate holidays without acknowledging a single Indian artist. And all non-Hebrews, please stop celebrating Jewish holidays. God chose the Hebrews only. The Torah is very clear on this.

    I see where you are coming from, but the nature of culture is to spread and diversify, not to remain “pure”. Do only Aztecs celebrate it in Mexico? Can people witth only 0% Spanish blood celebrate? The Spanish are 1) European and 2) the historical colonizers of Mexico. And isn’t the Day of the Dead itself a hodge podge of traditions? Wasn’t it once a longer celebration but due to the influence of the Catholic Church moved to All Saints Day? Catholicism being a Middle Eastern religion started by Jews, that moved to Italy, and spread to Spain where it was imposed on the people of the New World by force? The idea that white people cannot take part in the rich tapestry of human culture because President Clinton signed NAFTA makes no sense.

  48. James
    November 4, 2014

    So let me get this straight, “Chicano” people are entitled to break US immigration laws, and presumably any other laws that might get in the way of them living and working here, and the “gringos” should shut up and embrace that. However the “gringos” may not under any circumstances participate in the “Chicano” culture, unless it is sanctioned by a person of Latin ancestry? Would my token brown friend born and raised in Palo Alto count?

    You must be one of those tolerant and open minded open borders people I hear about. FYI though, Mexico, it’s borders, and it’s Spanish language are a creation of Spain, a European country, not the indigenous natives. So although I share your concern about watering down your rich ancestral traditions, it would be incorrect to confuse that with the politics of the US Mexico border. Respect for laws and custom has to be mutual.

  49. Mary Sojourner
    November 4, 2014

    Soooooooo, while all us white people and brown people and black people and red people and yellow people and all combinations of color are calling each other out and pissing on each other, the people of the damn-near-a-race rich people are laughing all the way to their stock options – all over the planet, no matter what color they are. And ripping the planet apart in their race to have everything.

  50. SaraBellum
    November 4, 2014

    Your make-up looks terrible!

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