Culture

Here Are 13 Cringeworthy Times That Gringos Totally Ruined Día De Muertos With Cultural Appropriation

First things first: Day of the Dead is a solemn tradition for Mexicans and Mexican-Americans. Although celebrating it in different ways is great, and culture should be shared rather than zealously kept for oneself, some traditions need to be treated respectfully. 

1. When this model wore this awful jacket and promoted this photo on her Insta.

Credit: Instagram / sophiecochivelou

Seriously, sugar skulls are not always the way to go. And, dear, your face is kinda hidden among all this mess of fabric. 

2. When this poor dog’s owners turned it into a catrina.

Credit: Instagram / izzy_the_chow

Some people just travel great lengths to turn their pets into social media celebrities. News alert: this is not smart, funny or cute. It is just plain weird. Does this classify as near-animal cruelty?

3. When gringos just assume that Day of the Dead is “Mexican” for Halloween…

Credit: Instagram / erin_grant

Dear Erin Grant: what on Earth is this strange melange of traditions? 

4. When they came up with the brilliant idea of making Día de Muertos pumpkins…What the?!

Credit: Instagram / chalkwithlove_insta

Yes, así como lo oyen. Gringos and some gringo-influenced-Latinos have started painting their pumpkins with what looks like a mix between The Nightmare Before Christmas and a sugar skull. Dude, at least make the effort to carve the damn thing! 

5.When they thought making catrinas sexy was cool.

Credit: Instagram / themodelgypsyrose

By eroticizing catrinas, gringos like this super-Anglo model, get it totally wrong. Mexican folklore does not mix sex and death… like, at all! Also, this type of cultural appropriation perpetuates stereotypes of Latinos being hypersexual and lusty (not that there is anything wrong with that…). 

6. When Pinterest and Etsy cultures discovered Day of the Dead and come up with kitschy and horrible ideas.

Credit: Instagram / curiousburrow

First of all, sloths are natives of Costa Rica, not Mexico (despite what some gringos might think, including people in government), Central America is not just an extension of Mexico. Well, we gotta admit this is kinda cute but as far away removed from tradition as possible. 

7. When these boots represented an affront to tradition and to any sense of good taste.

Credit: Instagram / mysugarskulls_com

Gringos tend to throw all non-white things in the same basket. These awful boots are a perfect example: yeah, just have a Native-American moccasin with some sugar skulls. Hey, gringos might even claim that these botitas have mystical powers, hey? Remember that time when white folk hung dream-catchers everywhere?! 

8. When Day of the Dead became Insta-ready.

Credit: Instagram / littlebongbaddie_

Don’t you miss those times when not everything was staged and ready to be photographed? Scenes like these are sorta tiernas, but so far removed from the more rustic and spontaneous spirit of Day of the Dead. Seriously, this looks like out of a Pottery Barn catalog y’all. 

9. When the James Bond franchise fabricated a parade that was full of every single cliche imaginable.

Credit: 007: Spectre / Columbia Pictures

Let’s get something straight: contrary to what is shown in the Hollywood extravaganza Spectre, Mexico City did not use to celebrate Day of the Dead with a huge parade that looks more like Mardi Gras (we love Mardi Gras by the way!) than a solemn celebration. But the city saw an opportunity for tourism and is now organizing a James Bond-style parade each year. Yes, Hollywood cultural appropriation at its peak! 

10. When some racist dudes hate Mexicans but love their best traditions

This tweet captures the sentiment perfectly. On one hand some gringos reject anything that is Latino or the idea of immigration. But if it has to do with colonizing a festivity and do so with low racist undertones, they are all there. Sounds familiar?

11. When brands just wanna make a quick buck.

Credit: Promotional shot / Old El Paso

As if Old El Paso didn’t have a long history of cultural and culinary appropriation, they often use Day of the Dead as a marketing ploy to lure unsuspecting customers. Look, we all love some good Tex-Mex, but let’s not forget that this food is not really Mexican. 

12. When slot machine companies want to fool paisanos into losing their money.

One of the most predatory industries in the world is the gambling entertainment complex, particularly when it comes to slot machines. The practice of including imagery that could trigger a cultural connection with gambling has been widely criticized, as it masks the fact that gambling is potentially dangerous when it comes to issues of addiction. Not cool at all. 

13. And seriously, we can’t get over the Día de Muertos pumpkins

What is this atrocity? Fuchi! At least make a bit of an effort, dude. 

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This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Culture

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Granddriver / Getty Images

As a kid growing up in a Latino household, pretty much everyone had a giant molcajete for grinding up spices and making salsas, or a tortilladora for whipping up homemade tacos and quesadillas. And as staple of pretty much any Latina home, they weren’t that expensive either.

Well, one online company has taken all of that and flipped it upside down to try and make a very hefty profit by bringing ‘artisan crafted’ products into people’s homes – helping them experience a ‘cultural journey.’

The store’s outrageous prices for such traditional kitchen items is generating tons of criticism alone from people calling them ‘culture vultures’ and accusing them of gentrifying Latino cooking and cultural appropriation.

Verve Culture is being called a ‘culture vulture’ for taking traditional Latino cooking tools and selling them at insanely high prices.

Credit: MiComidaVegana / YouTube

Verve Culture – an online store dedicated to bringing “you on a cultural journey” – is facing a series of complaints after profiting from traditional cultural products. The company sells typical products in the preparation of three traditional cuisines at very high prices: Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai.

In the case of traditional Mexican products, the company sells orange and lemon juices; accessories for making chocolate, blown glasses, and molcajetes. And at insanely high prices: a molcajete for $60, a tortilla press for $60, a Mexican chocolate set for $80, and a “Mexican hand juicer” for $15.

The company is obviously profiting off of traditional products of a culture that is too often denigrated – or on the other end of the spectrum, fetishized. Brands are no stranger to appropriating traditional cultural items to boost sales but this particular instance seems to have hit a major nerve with shoppers.

Like, for real?! A molcajete for $60 USD?!

Among some of the most outrageous priced items is a molcajete and tortillero set that goes for $60 USD. That’s literally 20 times more expensive than it should cost.

As someone who lives in Ciudad de México, and who does their shopping at local tianguis and mercados, I have literally bought the exact same set Verve Culture is selling. I paid $60 pesos for the set – not $60 USD – or about $3 USD.

Selling items like this at such inflated prices means Verve Culture is profiting off of the cultural and gastronomic identity of an entire country. So it’s no surprise that Mexican Twitter lit up in shock and anger.

The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of outrage.

A Tweet showing off the outrageously priced products and accusing the brand of “gentrifying Mexican kitchen cookware” already has 36,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets.

Among some of the comments include one Twitter user who said “Take your site down. This is an insult to Mexican culture along with all the other cultures you’re profiting off. Our culture is not your home decor!”

Another user tweeted, “…not of them is brown so it should really be named stolen culture because they’re selling fancy versions of things traditional to Mexican culture. Having one is fine, profiting off of a minority or their culture is not fine.”

While at least one person pointed out that the people who craft these items have long been taken advantage of. In a tweet, she said “Culturally we’ve been taught that our incredible craft and culture are worth close to nothing for years now, I really wish we could just collectively erase this mindset but at this point it’s so deeply rooted that thinking differently even feels “wrong” most times.”

Many pointed out that if you want to respect a culture’s food, support actual locals and artesanos.

Shopping online from three women who are not from the communities they’re profiting off of, is now way to support that community. That should be common sense but that site seems to have many customers.

As one Twitter user pointed out, if you really want to support local trabajadores, you should be buying directly from them. Shop in your local flea markets, your Latinx-owned shops and markets, this is how you’ll best help artisans.

The company’s $60 tortilla press was even featured in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year.

In the article, the author points out that the “tortilla press is made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons! The cast iron should last you, basically, forever so it’s definitely worth your money.”

That’s all great but where is that money going? How much of the $60 is the Mexican, Moroccan, Thai artisan actually earning from Verve Culture’s sales?

So what is Verve Culture and what do they have to say about all of this?

According to their website, Verve Culture is “a women-run business spanning three generational groups from Baby Boomer, Gen X, to Millennial.” As founders, Jules and Jacquie are a mother and daughter team who have worked together for 27 years.

In the company’s about section, they go on to say, “We are in constant pursuit of life traveled fully.”

“Our vision is to explore the cultural richness of artisans and communities around the world – to educate and inspire, while honoring the traditions and heritage of their work.”

Despite these claims, Twitter has been loud and clear in its message: stop profiting off the backs of already underpaid and overworked artisans from around the world.

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Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Culture

Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Mexico’s famed Día de Muertos celebrations are coming up, the time of year when families honor their dead relatives with ofrendas, parades, visits to cemeteries, and many other festivities.

And, of course, Barbie wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations.

Mattel – which makes Barbie – has just launched a new Barbie Catrina that is much more festive and colorful than the first one last year, who was dressed in black.

On this occasion, Mattel worked with Mexican-American designer Javier Meabe who wanted to reflect the joy and deep-rooted traditions of the country.

“As a Mexican-American designer, it was important for me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well as the traditions I grew up with that are represented and celebrated in Barbie,” Meaba said in a statement from Mattel. 

Although, Mattel has enlisted the designs of a Mexican-American designer, not everyone is pleased with the launch. Some are worried that the entire Día de Muertos collection is potentially watering down a 3,000-year-old tradition and are accusing Barbie of cultural appropriation.

Barbie is releasing its second Día de Muertos doll and it’s generating plenty of buzz.

For the second year in a row, Mattel is launching a Día de Muertos Barbie modeled after the traditions of Mexico’s famed celebrations.

“We often look at different ways to continue to engage girls and families to gain knowledge and celebrate other cultures and other parts of the world,” Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “Our hope is for this Día de Muertos Barbie to honor the holiday for the millions that celebrate and to introduce people not familiar with the tradition to the rich meaning.”

This year’s doll was designed by Mexican American designer Javier Meabe who was inspired by his personal background and family traditions.

“It was very important that the second Dia De Muertos doll felt just as special as the first in the Barbie series,” said Meabe in a statement. “As a Mexican American Designer, it was important to me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well, as have the traditions I grew up with represented and celebrated in Barbie.”

He continued, “For this doll, I was inspired by the color gold seen throughout Mexican culture, jewelry, buildings, statues and artwork and highlighted it throughout the design. The roses represent emotions and moments in life including celebrations, birth, death, passion, and love and I also was inspired to introduce new textures and a new dress silhouette.”

Barbie lovers can buy the doll for $75 on the company’s website or at mass retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Last year marked the first time Barbie celebrated the iconic Mexican holiday.

Credit: Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Last year, Mattel released the first Barbie doll celebrating the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and it was a huge hit. The floral dress and headpiece on the doll combined with the traditional calavara makeup design was absolutely stunning, and the same can be said about the 2020 version that just launched.

This time around, the Barbie Dia de Muertos doll features a light, blush-colored lace dress over a layer embroidered with floral and skeleton accents. The intricacy of the makeup has been taken up a notch, and the “golden highlights in her hair shimmer beneath a crown of skeleton hands holding roses and marigolds.”

However, since last year many have been questioning the intentions of Barbie and whether or not this is a good move.

In Mexican culture, the Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is when the gateway between the living and the dead is said to open, a holiday during which the living honor and pay respects to loved ones who have died.

The new Día de Muertos Barbie was intended less as a portal into the realm of the dead and more as a gateway into Mexican culture. At least that is what Mattel is hoping for.

However, not everyone agrees. Latinx Twitter has lit up with both excitement and anger, with some folks appreciating the design while others are calling Mattel out for cultural appropriation. The Día de Muertos doll is another way Latinx culture is slowly entering the mainstream. With acclaimed shows like Vida and One Day at a Time and movies like Coco and Roma winning accolades — it seems even a toy company is looking to capitalize on Latinx culture

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