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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

‘Cinco de Mifflin’ met with ethical questions

Stabbings at last May’s Mifflin Street Block Party mired the future of the event in uncertainty for the past 12 months.

Its occurrence now all but certain, the block party is still unable to outrun controversy, as the first Saturday in May of 2012 happens to be the fifth—also known as the date of Cinco de Mayo.

The combination of events in plans for the upcoming celebrations has members of the university community concerned with cultural insensitivity.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican defeat of a larger invading French army around the city of Puebla in 1862—a pivotal victory for Mexican independence and sovereignty.

Perception of the holiday in the United States, as with St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest, often emphasizes revelry over traditional observance.

In the weeks leading up to May’s first Saturday, some more entrepreneurial participants in the tradition of commemorative Mifflin T-shirts have co-opted the circumstances with designs emblazoned with “Cinco de Mifflin.”

“It was a good opportunity,” said UW-Madison student and shirt designer Nate Straub. ”People have been calling it ‘Cinco de Drinko’ for the last four years and they’re very much relating it to a drinking holiday anyway.”

Eunji Kang, another student and shirt designer, said that “it’s part of American culture” to drink alcohol while celebrating holidays.

Other students are disappointed by the misappropriation of Mexican culture. The organization Badgers Against Racism formed over ongoing conversations between students concerned with the lack of cultural sensitivity on campus.

“As members of the UW-Madison community we strive to create a learning environment that promotes social justice education, cultural awareness, and respect,” the group said in a statement obtained by The Daily Cardinal. “We should be able to participate in traditions like Mifflin without promoting stereotypes that dehumanize our peers.”

More than a reaction to Mifflin’s controversy, member Michelle Johnson said the group hopes to be proactive and preventative in a community that has featured several alleged incidents of racial harassment in the past year.

She said the group hopes plans to demonstrate against Mifflin insensitivity next week will move towards greater dialogue on campus.

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“This is an opportunity for progress,” she said.

Scott Girard contributed to this report.

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