Society

Cultural Appropriation Accusations Shutter Burrito Shop

| by Sheena Vasani

A burrito shop in Portland, Oregon, closed after being accused of cultural appropriating Mexican food and jobs.

After a trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico, Kali Wilgus and Liz "LC" Connelly, say they were inspired to set up the pop-up shop, Kooks Burritos, which was housed in a taco truck on weekends, the Daily Mail reports.

"I picked the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever, and they showed me a little of what they did," Connelly told Willamette Week after the pop-up, which served breakfast burritos, proved a success.

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"They wouldn't tell us too much about technique, but we were peeking into the windows of every kitchen, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look," she added. "We learned quickly it isn't quite that easy."

But it was those words that landed the two in trouble.

Many, such as The Portland Mercury, accused the women of "preying" on the low-income Mexican women and essentially stealing.

"The owners of Kooks Burritos all but admitted in an interview with Willamette Week that they colonized this style of food," wrote Jagger Blaec for The Portland Mercury. "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."

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Many agreed the burrito shop was inappropriate. The backlash quickly caught the attention of the nation, forcing Kooks Burritos to shut down.

"Awww so you nice ladies stole hard-working and low-income Mexican women's tortilla recipes and are now turning a profit," wrote one Facebook user. "That's not white basic privilege at all."

“Now that you all boldly and pretty f***ing unapologetically stole the basis of these women's livelihoods, you can make their exact same product so other white ppl don't have to be inconvenienced of dealing with a pesky brown middle woman getting in their way," sarcastically commented one Williamette Week reader. "Great job."

Not everybody thought the outcome was fair. Some came to the women's defense.

"1. Burritos are from L.A," wrote one Twitter user. " 2. Tortilla making is easy and not a secret 3. Breakfast burritos=white people food."

"If learning how to make a food from another culture and selling it is now considered cultural appropriation, then why not take this issue up with the successful Portland businesses that have been doing this at a much larger scale for years, and stop harassing these two women struggling to start a small business," added another person.

Sources: Daily Mail, Williamette Week, The Portland Mercury, Alicia Dominiguez/Facebook, Brerbear/Twitter / Photo credit: Jenn Arr/Flickr, Instagram via Daily Mail

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