Somos tequileros: a personal reaction to the "tequila" party
I do not speak for any Latino here on campus except myself. This is a personal reaction to the "tequila" party.
I spent this weekend very homesick—for many reasons. The primary reason is that I went to bed on Friday night and dreamt that I was dancing with my cousins and my friends to my favorite music in Spanish. I woke up and immediately wished I was back home with my Mexican family and friends. I did not, however, wish to seek out my Latino friends on campus, because although they bring me comfort and familiarity most of the time that I feel out of touch with my roots, this time was different. Yes we are all Latinos, but as a Southern Californian Mexican American, I have a very different experience than a Puerto Rican, Dominican or Central or South American Latino living on the East Coast. All of my Latino friends who share similar experiences with me and are supportive are incredible, but Saturday morning I craved my Mexican culture. All of us Latinos are not the same, nor do we pretend to be. We are simply united under a common language and interconnecting cultures.
So Saturday I craved to be back home surrounded by my culture. Still, I did not seek even my Mexican friends on campus, because we are different. Our music is different. Our food is different. Even the Mexican culture within “Latino” was too broad. My family is from Jalisco, Mexico. I do not think Jalisco is better or worse than other Mexican states, but my family's culture isn't always the same as ones from Michoacan, Sonora, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla, etc. My family comes from Jalisco, the tequila state. Somos tequileros. So as I stayed in this weekend, missing home, in a dress and heels, dancing alone in my room to my family's favorite music to dance to, some of my Bowdoin peers were out there throwing a party that both intentionally and unintentionally mocked my culture in a way that was so wrong it's ridiculous.
To those who threw this party: your intentions were very clear as to what kind of "fiesta" you were going to have and what Mexican stereotypes you were going to display. If you think that's not true, look at the stereotypical props you put on, and ask yourself why you chose them. Tequila is more than a crazy alcoholic drink to me. I was raised in a tequila culture, it was all around me as a child. If you don't believe my passion for tequila, ask my close friends here, they will tell you I am in love with it. My family's home state is the tequila state, somos tequileros. My family wears sombreros, not as ridiculous props but as a sign of a proud heritage and fun customs and I'm 99.9 percent sure you've never been to a charreada. My uncles have mustaches and wear boots, belts and hats sometimes because it is their fashion. One that can't be fully suppressed by their new home's fashion, America’s fashion.
I can't say, "the people who threw this party didn't intend to offend Mexicans," because no one came to me or any of my Latino friends to try to understand what a true fiesta is like. If you wanted to know, I'd rave about my family's fiestas and, man, I'd wish you could see it. This made me the most homesick. I craved going home to my Mexican community in Ontario, California where, although we don't all share the same experiences, most of us share a common culture. I craved a place where people understood me and my Mexicanness and didn't ridicule it with large hats and fake mustaches. I craved home, and I didn't appreciate someone making my home into a theme. You cannot take my culture for your own entertainment, especially if you don't know anything beyond the two minutes of history you had in your ignorant American textbook.
Giselle Hernandez is a member of the Class of 2019.