The Southern Poverty Law Center sent out a tweet on Cinco de Mayo warning revelers not to participate in "cultural appropriation."
"Most of the festivities surrounding #CincodeMayo in the US are textbook examples of cultural appropriation," wrote the official account for the anti-racism and anti-extremism organization.
Most of the festivities surrounding #CincodeMayo in the US are textbook examples of cultural appropriation, relegating the history and culture of Mexican people to novelty items. Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas. https://t.co/kffsaJWPUJ
— Southern Poverty Law Center (@splcenter) May 5, 2018
The annual May 5 celebration has historically been observed to commemorate the Mexican Army's unlikely 1862 victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, and it is often celebrated in United States today with tequila and Mexican food.
The SPLC tweet linked to an article from the nonprofit Teaching Tolerance, which complained "Mexican culture cannot be reduced to tacos, oversized sombreros and piñatas."
"As Cinco de Mayo becomes more and more commercialized in the United States, we run the risk of deeply engraining negative and false images into our national conscience. Instead, teach your students the real, rich history of Mexico. And leave the fake mustaches and maracas out of it," teacher Lauryn Mascareñaz wrote.
The SPLC's complaint came a week after a viral accusation of "cultural appropriation" involving a white high school student who attracted thousands of detractors on social media for wearing a dress inspired by traditional Chinese culture to her prom.
— Keziah (@daumkeziah) April 22, 2018
"My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress," read the most-shared tweet, which hit over 40,000 retweets.
My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress. https://t.co/vhkNOPevKD
— Jeremy Lam (@jere_bare) April 27, 2018
Despite the heated debate in the U.S., The New York Times reports many people in China didn't understand what the fuss was about. "From the perspective of a Chinese person, if a foreign woman wears a qipao and thinks she looks pretty, then why shouldn’t she wear it?" one Hong Kong resident told the Times.