'Los Suns' Cinco de Mayo statement: protest on a tank top
The Phoenix Suns players decided to wear their Spanish 'Los Suns' jerseys to tonight's Cinco de Mayo playoff game to protest the new Arizona immigration law. It's the latest example of America's often-contradictory views on illegal immigration and the Hispanic community.
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For their part, the Suns' decision to become "Los Suns" Wednesday night is not unprecedented. In the past, various teams, including the Suns and Spurs, have used the Spanish version of their names on team jerseys as a way to market the sport to Latino fans.Skip to next paragraph
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But this time is clearly different. The spontaneity of the decision as a protest rather than a celebration of Cinco de Mayo is evident in the fact that the Spurs wanted to join in with "Los Spurs" jerseys of their own but ran out of time to make them.
The rise of Cinco de Mayo
The fact the the Suns even have "Los Suns" jerseys is a testament to the steady rise of Hispanic influence on the nation's sports, food, television, and – with the popularity of Cinco de Mayo – even its unofficial holidays.
Virtually unknown a few decades ago, Cinco de Mayo celebrates a ragtag Mexican Army's unlikely victory against the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. More recently, it has played a major role in the acceptance of Hispanic culture and people in the US.
These days, Cinco de Mayo ranks alongside St. Patrick's Day and Oktoberfest among voluntary cultural holidays. Celebrated even at the White House (George Bush invited a mariachi band one year), Cinco de Mayo is, in fact, a bigger holiday in the US than in Mexico.
At last year's White House celebration (which Obama mistakenly dubbed "Cinco de Quatro," or "Fifth of Four"), the president harked back to President John F. Kennedy's visit to to Mexico. "When one of my predecessors once visited Mexico City, he said that 'while geography has made us neighbors, tradition has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies... two great and independent nations, united by hope instead of fear,'" Obama said.
It's in that spirit that the Suns, on a plane trip back from Game 1, decided to don their "Los Suns" jerseys. Even the player's association has endorsed the idea.
Says Mr. Flores, also a professor at New York University: the jerseys are a "significant gesture."