Stop Asking Me If I Relate to Disney's "Coco"

I want to open with the fact that Coco was an excellent movie. The animation perfectly captured Miguel’s love of music with a few strums of a guitar. Hector being related to Coco in the end was a great surprise twist! That’s saying a lot given that my mom and I have developed a sixth sense about predicting the ending of movies, especially with Disney. I cried at the end when Miguel sang “Remember Me” to Mama Coco.

However, just becuase I loved Coco doesn't mean that I related to it. A few days after the movie hit theaters, my mom was at work talking with some coworkers who also saw the movie with their kids. They looked at her and said, “It must have made more sense to you, I bet!”

I got the same comment from some people in my first high school (I transferred to another high school on the Upper West Side after my first year).

“You must have found it so relatable!”

“Wow, your culture is so beautiful.” You can see why I transferred.

First of all, the movie was celebrating Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican holiday. I am not Mexican. I am Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican. Honestly, before the movie came out, a lot of people thought that I was a white girl with curly hair. After people heard new phrases like “Abuelita” and “ofrenda” from the movie, I guess they made the connection that I also speak Spanish and just made an incorrect assumption? I’m not entirely sure. Ecuador and Puerto Rico have very beautiful cultures. Puerto Rico has great food like mangu and mofongo. Ecuador has food like cuy and seco de chivo. We listen to salsa, bachata, merengue, reggaetón and more. We like spending time with our family. Yet somehow, I don’t think that they were referring to my countries’ culture.

I actually learned a lot about Dia de los Muertos from that movie. I learned about it in school in my Spanish Native class, but it wasn’t as visual as Coco. I knew about the sugar skulls and what the holiday was supposed to represent, but what I really liked was seeing it celebrated by one family in the movie.

There were some things that were pretty relatable like the abuela giving Miguel more food even when he said he was full or when she started using terms of affection by adding “ito” and “ita” to the ends of words. I thought it was cute. Other than that, I didn’t find it very “relatable.” I am not from Mexico, and the culture depicted in the movie is not my own. Assumptions as to otherwise ignore my culture and the experiences I have had as a woman with heritage from Ecuador and Puerto Rico.