Today is Mexican Independence Day. My husband and I stayed up long past my bedtime last night to watch the grito which we try to do each year. The grito is a tradition at midnight on Independence Day where the Mexican president shouts the names of the heroes of the Mexican Revolution and the crowd shouts “Viva!” after each name. There is significant pageantry and meaning to each gesture. Here is a fun video that explains it in general.
I love pageantry and enjoy these types of ceremonies. I also like to dissect them in detail, including the political implications since I find politics fascinating. Then I sat down to write this morning and was having a hard time phrasing my thoughts. I realized that this is one of those moments of intersectionality. I have to be super careful about what I say because I am not a native of the culture. In this context I am the other and my opinions, no matter how well informed, should not carry the same weight as a native of Mexico. No matter how educated I make myself about the culture and politics of Mexico or the Mexican-American community, I cannot possibly see all the subtleties of the situation.
Any knowledge I have is that of an interested outsider. What happens there does not really affect my life or my future except in a general way. In some ways that allows me to be impartial and see the facts of the situation, as best as is possible from far away, but I know that I am missing a huge chunk of information as an outsider.
What I can say is that, even though there are myriad endemic problems in the country, the Mexican people genuinely love their country, want the best for the country, and have tremendous pride in who they are. That is as it should be. In the United States we have unrest and racial tension and protest, but what we need to realize is that those protesting are doing so because they want their country to be better. Protest, no matter how offensive its form, is inherently hopeful. It is people seeing an injustice and acting to fix it because they believe that their country can and should be better. It is an act of love. The opposite of love of country is indifference, not protest. I am most frightened for the future when apathy and indifference become more and more the norm.
Today is a day of pride in the Mexican culture and pride in the people of Mexico. Today let us celebrate the richness of Mexican culture and the beauty of it’s people. Today we will have enchiladas rancheras for dinner and talk about Mexico and the history of the revolution at a level my son can understand. We will also play music.
How do you celebrate with your kids? How do you keep your culture vibrant for the next generation? I will be exploring this idea more as the holidays approach and would love to hear your stories as well.