Things That Matter

Mexican Communities Around The Country Are Honoring El Paso Victims With Día De Muertos Ofrendas

Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead is November 2, and ofrendas are popping up all around the country to honor the El Paso shooting victims. The annual Mexican tradition is a time of reflection and celebration of lives lost. Each year ofrendas or altars are created with tokens, photos, and sentimental mementos of those who passed.

This year ofrendas all over the country will commemorate the 22 El Paso shooting victims who were killed in a targeted attack against the Latinx community on August 3, 2019. The incident occurred when a 21-year-old white male drove 11 hours to El Paso, Texas to shoot “Hispanics.” 

The man killed 22 and injured 26 patrons of a Walmart, 20 minutes after posting a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto to a social media website used by white supremacists. The shooter talked of a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” The rhetoric was not unfamiliar to anyone who has tuned into President Trump’s rallies where he once referred to Mexicans as rapists. 

The Latinx community is still healing and Dia de Muertos is a great opportunity to begin suturing up the wounds. 

The Mexican Cultural Insitute in Washington D.C.

The Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. will have an altar for El Paso victims during their Dia de Muertos celebration on November 2. The event will also include dance, music, food, and performances. 

Mexican artist Enrique Quiroz will create the altar that will honor the 22 people who were killed in the gruesome mass shooting. According to DCist, the altar will also include tributes to prominent Mexican icons that died in 2019 like humanitarian León Portilla, singer José José, and artist Francisco Toledo. 

The Mexic-Arte Museum in Texas altar will honor El Paso victims.

 The Mexic-Arte Museum has encouraged local residents to contribute photos, messages, and sentimental items to their altar. It has been on display since September 13 and will remain until November 24. Meanwhile, the museum puts on the city’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead celebration on October 26. 

“The violence targeted our community,” Mario Villanueva, the museum’s marketing and events associate, told the Statesman. “As Mexic-Arte Museum, a safe space that amplifies Mexican American and Latino culture, it’s our duty to let the community know that we hear your pain.”

The ofrenda entitled “Ofrenda a Nuestra Comunidad Internacional de El Paso,” has had a positive response in the area with many offering to participate and provide items. 

“Some of them were hurting,” Villanueva said. “They just want to help in any way possible.”

The National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago

“Day of the Dead Xicágo is just getting started and more than 90 ofrendas are set up! This altar is fondly dedicated to Felipe Ruiz and Andrea Sebastian Arzate, who are remembered for being loving and caring grandparents. Come see more altars created by people of all walks of life and share in their heartfelt stories,” the museum wrote on Instagram. 

At the “Love Never Dies Ball,” on November 2, the National Museum’s ofrendas will feature El Paso victims as well children separated at the border and those who have died in ICE custody. The Chicago Latinx community has been outspoken about the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“The motives behind the El Paso massacre were clearly directed at Latinos, and they were rooted in the damaging rhetoric that came into the national spotlight when Donald Trump began using words like ‘invasion’ and ‘drug dealers and rapists’ to describe immigrants crossing the southern border,” the Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago advocacy organization, said in an August statement. 

Hip Latina reports that other Day of the Dead celebrations in Texas will take place at Houston Community College, University of Texas at El Paso and local churches. Each will honor the victims of the El Paso shooting. 

The El Paso Walmart will open its doors for a memorial. 

The El Paso Walmart where the shooting took place will reopen its doors on November 14. The store will not hold a celebration so much as a memorial for the victims. 

“This will not be a celebratory atmosphere or environment,” Todd Peterson, vice president of Walmart and regional general manager, told KERA news. “We’ll just simply open the doors.”

Peterson also unveiled a mockup of a permanent tribute sculpture that will be on the south side of the parking lot of the store. 

“The focal point…will be a grand candela,” Peterson said. “Twenty-two individual perforated aluminum arcs, grouped together into one, single 30-foot candela, symbolizing unity and emanating light into the sky.”

Family members and survivors of the shooting will be able to view the memorial privately before the public. The Cielo Vista Walmart has not opened its doors since the shooting on August 3. While they may not exactly be Dia de Muertos ofrendas community members have already created a makeshift memorial to the victims. 

RIP That Time Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos

Entertainment

RIP That Time Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos

shot_by_prum_ty / Instagram

Since Disney Plus launched on November 12, people have been swept up in all the family-friendly chaos, indulging in a long list of classic Disney favorites. While the streaming service also plans to offer new original content, the company is definitely taking advantage of our generation’s lust for nostalgia, providing exclusive access to the Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic franchises (and reminding us how much Disney dominated our youth with films like The Lion King, The Cheetah Girls, and Gotta Kick It Up). Honestly, the list of iconic feel-good films is outrageously long, and it’s easy to understand why everyone’s so excited.

But it’s no secret that Disney’s wholesome image has been blemished by a long, varied history of controversy and criticism. While Disney has been accused of sexism and plagiarism numerous times, one of the most notable topics of discussion in recent years has been the company’s tendency to racially stereotype its characters, a propensity that is  especially notable in early Disney films (though many scholars and film critics argue that this has carried into the 21st century, despite Disney’s attempts to be more culturally sensitive).

On many occasions, Disney has acknowledged the racist nature of its older animated films, like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats. In the descriptions for several programs on Disney Plus, there is a brief warning about the “outdated cultural stereotypes” contained within each film, and while several people view this disclaimer as a sign of progress, Disney has been criticized for making a bare minimum effort toward addressing the problematic elements of its past.

And speaking of the company’s past, how could we forget the time that Disney tried to trademark the term “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead”?

Credit: Pinterest / The Walt Disney Company

Back in 2013, Disney approached the US Patent and Trademark Office with a request to secure “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead” across many different platforms. At the time, an upcoming Pixar movie with a Día de los Muertos theme (read: the early stirrings of Coco) was in the works, and Disney wanted to print the phrase on a wide range of products, from fruit snacks to toys to cosmetics. Por supuesto, Disney received major backlash for trying to trademark the name of a holiday—what is more culturally appropriative than claiming ownership over an entire celebration? Especially one with indigenous roots?

“The trademark intended to protect any potential title of the movie or related activity,” a spokeswoman for Disney told CNNMexico at the time. “Since then, it has been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our application for trademark registration.”

But prior to withdrawing their application, Disney received extensive backlash from the Latnix community. Latinos all over social media expressed their disdain for Disney’s bold and offensive attempt to take ownership of the holiday’s name, even starting a petition on Change.org to halt the whole process. Within just a few days, the petition had garnered 21,000 signatures.

Although Disney didn’t acknowledge whether the online uproar had influenced them to retract their trademark request, they were clearly paying attention. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American editorial cartoonist, had expressed open disdain at what he called Disney’s “blunder,” creating “Muerto Mouse”—a cartoon criticizing said blunder—in response.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz / Pocho.com

This wasn’t the first time Alcaraz had criticized Disney with his cartoons. After the trademark fiasco, Disney definitely caught wind of Alcaraz’s position, and in an effort to approach the upcoming Día de los Muertos movie with sensitivity, the company hired him to work as a cultural consultant on the film.

Although several folks celebrated this development, Alcaraz was widely denounced for collaborating with Disney—many people called him a “vendido,” accusing him of hypocritically selling out to the gringo-run monolith against which he had previously spoken out. But Alcaraz stood his ground, confident that his perspective would lend valuable influence to the movie and ultimately prevent Pixar from doing the Latinx community a disservice.

“Instead of suing me, I got Pixar to give me money to help them and do this project right,” Alcaraz said. “I was let down because I was hoping people would give me a little bit of credit for the stuff I’ve done; to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

And, sin duda, Coco emerged as one of the most culturally accurate films that Disney has ever produced. Employing an almost exclusively Latino cast and crew, Coco seamlessly captured the beauty, magic, and wonder of Día de los Muertos, depicting the holiday with reverence and respect. And after becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, it’s safe to say that Coco helped Disney bounce back from its trademark mishap, even if more controversy is bound to emerge in the future.

Mexico City’s Annual Día De Muertos Night Bike Ride Broke Records And It Looked Incredible

Culture

Mexico City’s Annual Día De Muertos Night Bike Ride Broke Records And It Looked Incredible

Omgitsjustintime / Instagram

Dia de Muertos may have officially happened over a week ago (it takes place from November 1-2), however, that isn’t stopping Mexicans from celebrating.

Sure, Mexico City had its massive Desfile de Día de Muertos last weekend and the incredible Mega Procesión de Las Catrinas on the weekend before but this weekend the celebrations continued. And this time, it took place in the form of a massive nighttime bike ride through the city’s most busy boulevards.

Mexico City’s Dia de Muertos night bike ride broke records with nearly 150,000 people coming out to celebrate.

A record 147,500 people took part in the annual Day of the Dead night bike right held Saturday in Mexico City, according to the city’s transportation secretary.

Riders showed up in elaborate costumes and disguises and completed an 18-kilometer route (about 11 miles) along the city’s famed Paseo de la Reforma. The route took the riders through some of the city’s most popular districts and along some of its most popular monuments. The ride then ended in the historic center of the capital city.

A costume contest at the Angel of Independence monument, live music at different locations and the screening of short films promoting the use of sustainable transportation at Plaza Tlaxcoaque complemented the bicycle outing.

Families and even their pets participated in the 11-mile ride.

Mexico City Transportation Secretary Andrés Lajous, who participated in the ride, told the newspaper El Sol de México that one of the most gratifying aspects of the event was to see young children enjoying their city at night. Many families took part including some that took their pets along for the ride, which took place between 9:00 and 11:00pm.

As violence continues to rack Mexico, events like this show highlight the positive events and moments in a country battling rampant drug violence. For many, the event offered a sense of pride as they were able to enjoy their city by night.

The night bike ride was just the latest in a series of major events in the city to celebrate Dia de Muertos.

For many, Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is synonymous with sugar skulls and elaborate ‘Catrina’ face painting. In reality, it’s a two-day festivity that lights up Mexico with colors, flowers, candles and a seemingly omnipresent joy.

Every year, on November 1st and 2nd, Mexicans take part in the adored demonstration of love and respect for their deceased relatives. And though the country’s capital is full of cemeteries to celebrate, plazas decorated in beautiful ‘ofrendas’ and lots of ‘pan de muerto’ weeks before the celebration, there’s one special day in CDMX when visitors will get to see a huge group of beautifully decorated Catrinas walk down the street in a parade celebrating life and death.

This year marked the 6th year that the parade took place. And more than 150 thousand people participated despite cool and rainy weather. Plus, there were nearly 200 professional makeup artists getting everyone looking like the famous ‘Calavera Catrina.’

However, not everyone was able to enjoy their night as some complained of police brutality.

While the vast majority of participants had an enjoyable and safe night, one young woman said that she and other cyclists were attacked by at least 20 police officers late on Saturday.

Twitter user @malitriushka said that after Reforma avenue reopened to traffic at about 11:00pm, the safety of cyclists riding on the road was threatened by an aggressively-driven Metrobús.

The woman said that she and other cyclists approached police to ask for assistance but were beaten and accused of theft. “As a cyclist, as a woman, I saw the situation and decided to help. Now I have fractures and am accused of theft,” she wrote on Twitter. “They beat me and with false testimony they say I stole a hat,” the woman said in another post.

She also said that her boyfriend and three other people were detained by police and that their cell phones, which had recorded the incident, were confiscated.