Mexicans Can Not Appropriate Own Culture!Tweet In a May 24 article, OC Weekly food critic, Gustavo Arellano, defends Portland women who appropriated Mexican food recipes. Read Gabriela Ortiz' response on how Mexicans can not appropriate what already belongs to them.
Pan De Muertos; Michoacan, Mexico (Photo: Maqzet)
Gabriela Ortiz --- On May 16, 2017, two white Oregon women from Portland acknowledged a scheme to create faux Mexican food after a 'touring' of Mexico aimed at acquiring the recipes for homemade tortillas. Despite their limited knowlegde and obtuse behavior, the pair sold burritos for some time but quickly became the center of public scorn due to their public acknowledgement of cultural appropriation
The controversy proved irresistable fodder for food critic, Gustavo Arellano, from the now Duncan McinTosh (of boating magazine fame) owned OC WEEKLY. He went on to defend the Portland pair's cultural appropriation bizarrely because Mexicans - according to him - already do it. He is terribly mistaken.
There is a stark difference between diffusion and cultural appropriation. Anthropologically, diffusion refers to the spread of cultural ideas or artifacts between individuals, cultures or regions. Diffusion often comes as a result of proximity and adaptation mechanisms. Cultural appropriation, however involves a power structure.
If a member or members of a dominant group "takes elements and symbols of another culture for their own economic or social gain while simultaneously devaluing and silencing the bodies, opinions and voices of the oppressed culture", that is cultural appropriation.
Can Mexicans appropriate elements of Mexican culture? No. The exchange of foods and clothing is a result of diffusion, not appropriation. Aura Bogado attempted to make a point that Mexican artist Frida Kahlo appropriated indigenous Mexican culture because of her use of the huipil and reboso, however Kahlo's maternal line comes from the state of Oaxaca.