I made a burrito for lunch today, because I wanted to commit a gross act of cultural appropriation.
Have you heard the latest out of Portlandia? The appropriately named Kooks Burritos was forced out of business after being attacked for white supremacy because these kooky burritos were being made and sold by white women. Seriously. The Portland Mercury, whose title may explain its mindset because only something like lead or mercury poisoning could explain its sheer stupidity, reports:
This week in white nonsense, two white women—Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely—decided it would be cute to open a food truck after a fateful excursion to Mexico. There’s really nothing special about opening a Mexican restaurant—it’s probably something that happens everyday. But the owners of Kooks Burritos all but admitted in an interview with Willamette Week that they colonized this style of food when they decided to “pick the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever.”
“…You can eat $5 lobster on the beach,” Connelly said, “which they give you with this bucket of tortillas.” The “they” she was referring to were probably the Mexican “abuelitas” these two women preyed upon in order to appropriate the secrets of their livelihood. Suitably impressed, these tourists began asking the locals questions about how these tortillas were made. “They told us basic ingredients,” Connelly said, adding “[but] they wouldn’t tell us too much about technique.” Hmmm. Wonder why? This is where things go from quirky to predatory if you haven’t already guessed. . .
“…We were peeking into window of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look,” she said. So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.
As soon as Willamette Week, who has a history of publishing racially insensitive food commentary, published this story, people of color were outraged.
Immediately after the fury continued online, a different resource emerged and quickly went viral: a Google doc showing exactly how prevalent this epidemic is. The list titled “White-Owned Appropriative Restaurants in Portland”provides a who’s who of culinary white supremacy.
An introduction to the document begins by saying, “This is NOT about cooking at home or historical influences on cuisines; it’s about profit, ownership, and wealth in a white supremacist culture.”
There’s more, but this is enough. Meanwhile, anyone remember Emma Sulkowitz, better known as the “mattress girl” of Columbia University a few years back, after the bogus rape charge against a classmate made her a national celebrity and spawned the gimmick of carrying a mattress with her everywhere around campus? She called it an “art project.” (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand brought her to a State of the Union speech.) Well, she’s baaaackkk! With a new “performance art” exhibition that is truly an exhibition. An exhibition of what is pretty obvious. Here are a few pics: