Cinco de Mayo: The Myth, The Truth, My Culture and Me

My culture is not here for you to laugh at. Cinco de Mayo, the Battle of Puebla. The Mexican army defeats the French! But first, let me take you back…

Texas, the Battle of Puebla and the Civil War

“Spanish Texas” as it was known then, was Spanish territory until Mexico won their independence, then it became “Mexican Texas” under Mexico rule Texas would welcome freed slaves, since Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829, Mexico made it illegal to own slaves and Texas would follow orders.

This would change later when European/Anglo settlers like Stephen F. Austin would take control, and Texas rebels would fight against the Mexican government, since they favored slavery, so think about that next time you say “Remember The Alamo” or “Come and Take It” – discussion for another day.

By 1792, free blacks and mulattos made up 15% of the population of Spanish Texas. Free peoples of color prospered as Mexican citizens. They owned land, built successful businesses, and married whomever they loved, regardless of skin color. However, when Mexico lost Texas, people of color lost their rights and their place.




The French heavily favored and supported the Confederate Army and slavery, especially in their territories along the borderlands, including both sides of the rio. Mexico supported the Union Army and held control over the borderlands, this is something to keep in mind when remembering the Battle of Puebla May 5th, 1862, which took place one year after the Civil War began.

Mexico was independent and would not have the backing of the Spanish army to help them now, yet they took their small militia and went on to beat the French army made up of 6,000 men!

As is reported in the current issue of the Loyal Legion Historical Journal: “Had the confederate artillery been fully supplied with modern and high-quality French munitions and guns, and highly compacted Union lines could have been severely hit and weakened, and it would have given a real opportunity for a successful charge and a different outcome of the Battle of Gettysburg, and possibly set the stage for the victory needed by the Confederate States of American to gain diplomatic recognition by the European Powers and the military support that this implied.

Fast Forward to 1980-1999

Top TV shows of 1980s: Growing Pains, Full House, The Cosby Show, Roseanne, The Wonder Years, to name a few. Aside from a few characters that maybe had a guest role, none of those shows we grew up watching had Latino characters in the main cast.

We entered the next decade with our friendship bracelets, Trapper Keepers and more awesome shows like, My So-Called Life, A Different World, Fresh Prince, Family Matters, Boy Meets World, The Simpsons. All these images filled our homes and formed our ideas of the world, along with the rest of the country, still no Latinos…


click here to read the rest of my article, originally published under my column ‘Wondering Latina’ for El Paso Herald Post digital newspaper.


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