If you’re an avid reader of The Daily Wire like me, you can probably recall this story from May about two Portland women who owned a popular burrito cart but faced immense backlash for their alleged “cultural appropriation” of Mexican food. The Social Justice Warriors who, let’s face it, likely comprise ninety percent of the Leftist haven’s population, were triggered by the fact that Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connelly were white women who profited off their twist on the traditionally Central American cuisine. Wilgus and Connelly were eventually forced to close their business as a result of the SJW’s sensitivity.
This is obviously sheer lunacy. We live in a free society that is supposed to welcome those from all cultures while uniting under a banner of common American values. Sadly, the Left is constantly trying to replace that banner with antagonistic, multicultural tribalism. If you’re white, you’re not allowed to engage in the art of creating genuine tacos and burritos because brown people own those foods. If you try to “appropriate” their menu, you will lose your chance to follow your passion and ability to create a living.
However, the Left’s torches fade and pitchforks drop when there are no white people involved. A recent video made by First We Feast, a culinary spin-off of the very “woke” Complex Magazine, profiles an emerging community of black taco vendors in Los Angeles. In the first seconds of the video, one black interviewee asks, “[with] the way we rap, the way we lit, the way we dress…everybody takes our culture, so why can’t we do the same?” Good question! Why can’t you?
The answer is: you CAN and you SHOULD share with other cultures. Here’s a novel idea. If making delicious tacos or burritos is a trade you find fulfilling and can help provide for yourself and your family, do it! Appreciating culinary contributions from other cultures so much that you learn the techniques directly from the source, put your own unique spin on each dish, and sell that product to hungry, paying customers is the type of entrepreneurial cultural exchanges we need.
First We Feast‘s video is a perfect example of this. It’s a compelling story about members of a poor black community in South L.A. who are mending wounds from gang violence with their “coalition” of Mexican food trucks and restaurants. They don’t even have a marketing budget or outside investors, but their success has become widespread news around the city. As one happy customer says, “What is being called an African-American taco movement really is American.” That’s exactly right, and this style of community service and entrepreneurship should be celebrated, not threatened, in this country.
But here’s the thing. A clear double standard is also on display when you prop this video next to Kali and LC’s story. No one in Los Angeles has accused social media sensation “All Flavor, No Grease” or Armani Aflleje, queen of the “Trap Kitchen,” of cultural appropriation. These street chefs are successfully monetizing their version of Mexico’s staple foods, not being forced to close up shop. They’re doing the same exact thing in Los Angeles as Kali and LC did in Portland.
Why the contradiction? It’s because the black and Mexican communities are similarly positioned on the Left’s hierarchy of intersectionality and oppression. Unfortunately, the so-called logic of social justice warriors compels them to only accuse white people of cultural theft. African-Americans can’t oppress Central Americans because they’re both oppressed by white Americans. It’s nonsense.
The bottom line is, when it comes to music, fashion, food, or any ethnically specific product, cultural appropriation does not exist. Unless you are able to copyright, trademark, or patent a taco, the process of making tacos is not your property. The last thing we need is tribal factions of races, nationalities, and cultures claiming full ownership of folded tortillas with meat, cheese, and salsa inside. This should apply to tacos, hibachi, pizza, and cheeseburgers equally.
In the future, can we all sit down together and enjoy making or eating these delicious foods without stirring up a new “social justice” controversy? That seems pretty agreeable and mutually beneficial for everyone involved.
See First We Feast‘s first edition of “Food Grails” below:
Cover photo courtesy of Hooters, Inc.