There may be no better soapbox for this outrage than the Portland Mercury.
Portland has an appropriation problem.
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 may wonder what exactly is meant by the peculiar use of the word “colonized,” one of the new-fangled code words for cultural appropriation.
“…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.
In the old days, asking a question, even of an abuelita, was a good way to get an answer. Now, it’s preying, as if they put a knife to the old women’s throats.
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.
It’s unclear why the writer, Jagger Blaec, is of the view that people outside of Portland don’t enjoy a good burrito. I like burritos. I know other people who like burritos. We’re not Portlandians. So what makes this a specifically plausible Portlandia problem?
Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created. Several of the most successful businesses in this town have been birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit. Now don’t get me wrong: cultural customs are meant to be shared. However, that’s not what happens in this city.
Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.
Damn, erasing and exploiting. And all these two women tried to do was make delicious burritos. Instead, the Portlandia Effect kicked in. If you happen to be passing through Portland and feel in the mood for a great burrito, don’t bother looking for Kooks Burritos.
Well, you’re too late. Kooks Burritos has closed shop.
The shuttering happened just a few days after the Willamette Week’s story hit the internet. And along with the rapid-fire closure, the owners deleted much of Kooks Burritos’ online presence, Portland’s Eater said.
What happened that they were compelled to shut down their food truck?
The women became the subject of local editorials and, of course, fucking Mic.com fanned the flames with an article, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business.”
The company’s Yelp reviews are flooded with one-star reviews from the PC police, using terms like “white mediocrity” and “Latinx” while comparing Kooks Burritos to colonialism.
Did these two horrible white women do anything to prevent anyone else from making delicious burritos? Nope. But that isn’t the point when it comes to cultural appropriation, to “erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.” The only point is that in the scheme of social justice, there are rules as to who is allowed to do what, and other than make ham sandwiches on white bread with mayo or starting a marching band, these abuelita abusers were horrifying and exhausting, intolerable and evil.
As these are the weapons of tolerance and equality, to protect “vulnerable” people from exploitation, is it hard to understand why the PC authoritarianism isn’t spreading like a warm glow across the nation? And for those SJWs who believe they can still believe in the righteousness of their cause, while conceding that this might be a bit too far, it doesn’t work that way. You are just as much a (insert epithet of choice) as any racist. When it comes to social justice, one either adheres to the orthodoxy or one is a heretic.