Home > Uncategorized > Dear White People/Queridos Gringos: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us – Stop Colonizing The Day Of The Dead

Dear White People/Queridos Gringos: You Want Our Culture But You Don’t Want Us – Stop Colonizing The Day Of The Dead

Aya de Leon

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…

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. November 3, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    As someone who is half Hispanic, I’m on the fence about cultural appropriation. First, it’s part of the human experience to appropriate ones culture. Just think as pagans that we are, our culture was appropriated by early Christians for conversion reasons. This is what Day of the Dead is really, it’s an appropriation of indigenous culture intertwined with Roman Catholicism. Every culture on Earth has done this over and over again so it’s nothing new and when we do meet extraterrestrials, we’ll do the same with their culture and, if they find positive aspects in ours, they’ll do the same. Now I do agree that in order to appreciate the culture that you’re appropriating, you need respect the people it comes from.

    • November 3, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      There’s a hefty difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation. The former is about an outsider being invited into a culture to share in it, learn from it, be initiated into it, etc. The latter is about taking.

      Cultural appropriation may be a part of human experience, but not one I’d be putting forth as acceptable. There’s no respect in it. Also, not every culture has appropriated. The cultural exchanges seen between, for instance, Egyptian and Greek people, occurred together in respect so far as I know.

      So while I’m all for cultural exchange, and have been invited on different occasions to partake in that for one reason or another, I think cultural appropriation is something else, and something that should not be encouraged at all.

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