This year, thousands of people in the DFW Metroplex will celebrate Dia de los Muertos. The Latino Cultural Center is hosting a gallery exhibit featuring art and altars; libraries are hosting free community celebrations; and the city even hosted its first Dia de los Muertos parade this year.
But it wasn’t always like this. In my generation, we were not permitted to celebrate Hispanic cultural holidays. Our school history books only taught about the white founders of America, and my parents were focused on providing for our family. History and culture faded into the background as we focused on civil rights.
Over the past 30 years, the climate of the U.S. shifted and now Hispanics are able to boldly celebrate our culture. However, that celebration comes with a caveat. Holidays like Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos have morphed into holidays that are seen as economic & political opportunities. Our culture is in danger of appropriation as non-Hispanic businesses seek ways to use the holidays to make an extra dollar.
The Hispanic community should use our holidays as opportunities to not only celebrate, but educate. We can share our culture’s history and also encourage others to research their ancestry’s historical and cultural celebrations. While there is nothing inherently wrong with other races and cultures celebrating our holidays with us, it’s important that we keep these celebrations as educational experiences, not opportunities for appropriation.
Dia de los Muertos is a beautiful holiday that has great spiritual and cultural significance. This day is about the preservation of the truth and justice for our forebears, and we need to honor their sacrifice. Let’s use our culture and holidays to set a positive example for all who are watching.