How the Chicago White Sox Remade Cinco de Mayo Into a Day of Latino Pride
May 8, 2019
Written by Ozzie Godinez, CEO/Co-Founder
In Chicago, baseball means a welcome end to a long, hard winter. And Cinco de Mayo is the first holiday that brings people outside to celebrate.
This year the Chicago White Sox embraced Cinco de Mayo and, in the process, made it an unofficial day of Latino pride. In fact, 42% of the crowd that attended the sold-out Cinco de Mayo celebration at Guaranteed Rate Field self-identified as Hispanic, nearly double the 25% of the crowd on the same day in 2018 (Sox Survey, CWS in-park survey program).
Numbers like that suggest the White Sox have tapped into something special: Relying on authenticity to drive sales.
As we all know, Cinco de Mayo is a day of observation for the Mexican Army’s victory over the French in 1862, which is also known as the Battle of Puebla. And while the holiday is not largely celebrated in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has crossed over to become a rite of spring for partying, mostly by non-Latinos who have little to no knowledge of the history. Latinos no longer consider the day exclusively their own; instead, the fifth of May is a day of harmless appropriation in the guise of mariachi music, tequila drinks, and margaritas.
The White Sox changed the narrative. Instead of ignoring the significance of the day for Latinos, as many organizations do on this day, the team welcomed Latinos for an event that was about heritage. For example:
Latinos tailgating in masses that would rival most MLB and NFL franchises around the league. Besides traditional hot dogs and burgers, fans were grilling up carne asada, tacos, and indulging in their favorite cerveza mexicana with friends and family.
The team gave away 20,000 Los White Sox soccer jerseys.
The scoreboard featured facts about the day’s historical significance, down to some pretty sobering facts about the Battle of Puebla, including the number of those who sacrificed their lives.
Mariachi Herencia de México, a mariachi ensemble of Chicago students that earned a 2017 Latin Grammy nomination, performed outside the field before the game and on the field before the National Anthem.
Fans were also treated to a live on-field dance performance by Ballet Folklorico México Lindo.
Fans who checked in through the MLB Ballpark app at the Revolution Brewing #SoxSocial Tap Room received a sugar skull pin.
I was at the game that day and can testify to the cultural pride expressed in the stands and on the field. Instead of letting the holiday devolve into just another homogenous day on the calendar that has lost its meaning, the White Sox purposely created a day that had authenticity to the Latino culture.
Putting culture front and center instead of hiding it shows Latinos that they matter and their culture deserves the spotlight. Instead of Latinos standing on the outside and being forced to participate in a culture that isn’t their own, the White Sox made them the star and encouraged non-Latinos to embrace a culture they may recognize but may never have fully engaged.
That approach is a unifying one. For once, people of all races and ethnicities were able to share music, food, and history that isn’t always celebrated at such a mass scale. The White Sox got people to come together in ways that government leaders often struggle with, making sports the great unifier.
By tapping into Latino pride, the White Sox didn’t just make Latinos feel good about their culture, they shared it with others so they could feel good about it too.
If you like this, you may like our other blogs. Click here for more resources.