(Laughing) I’m not exactly sure how Cinco de Mayo meant that Americans are supposed to get smashed drunk on May 5 – although I’m sure the Yankee axiom of “Human beings exist so that we can sell them something” had a hand here – but you should at least know that Americans of African descent have a big reason to give the head-nod to Mexicans today.
In short, Cinco de Mayo helped to end slavery in America. If this is obscure news to you, read on. Everybody else can hit the bar.
Some of you know that May 5, 1862 marks the victory of a group of outmanned and outgunned Mexican peasants over a formidable and well-equipped French army in the Mexico state of Puebla. But the victory is important because France didn’t like the United States at the time. It was suspected that the French wanted to set up shop in Mexico, among other reasons, to support the Confederacy and permanently break-up the United States. Keep in mind that America was in the early stages of its civil war at the time.
The US – well, the legitimate part – knew it would have its hands full with the Civil War, and wasn’t prepared to deal with the French causing trouble from the South. Therefore, Team Lincoln had to rely on Mexico to take care of the French.
The improbable Puebla victory was a huge morale-booster for Mexicans, and they were able to keep the French at bay for about a year before eventually being invaded. The resistance bought enough time for the US to resolve the Civil War and help the Mexicans expel the French.
So, imagine how life would have turned out if France invaded Mexico…
I can’t promise that your average Mexican in 2014 will know Cinco de Mayo’s history in the way I just described it, so hugging a Mexican and saying “Thank you” may be misunderstood, to say the least. But keep them and the country in your thoughts when you start that first round…
song currently stuck in my head: “galactic ancestors” – theo parrish