Culture

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

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.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Fierce

Latinas Are Sharing Their Most Treasured Memories Of Their Abuelos And It’s Exactly What We Needed This Month

Buda Mendes / Getty

When it comes to celebrating our Latinidad, there’s no denying that Latinos need much more than a month to celebrate our accomplishments, cultures, and contributions. Still, since 1988, people across the country have used Hispanic Heritage Month to commemorate the contributions of Latin Americans in the United States. This month, just like every other month, we’re recognizing and celebrating our Latinidad by sharing stories and moments from our followers.

Recently we asked Latinas on FIERCE to share their memories of some of the most influential Latinos in their lives: their abuelos.

Check out their sweet stories below.

“Ayy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita.” –melannram

“My abuelito passed away almost 10 years ago now, he was sick ever since I could remember so I was never able to make memories with him. Earlier this year I got to visit the rancho in MX where he raised my dad and tios. A little back story, I have this belief and connection to white butterflies. Whenever I see them or they cross my path I am convinced it’s my abuelito telling me that he’s near or watching over me🤎 anyways, on our way to the ranchito which I had only visited once before when I was about 4, we were guided by these hand sized white butterflies, it was absolutely beautiful. My abuelito really lead us to his casita in the rancho. I could feel his presence and happiness that his grandchildren had the opportunity to visit his home 🤎 this is my favorite memory, this is the memory that I cherish,
– a memory that brings me joy.” –sandra_larios

“Seeing my grandpa make my grandma a cocktail when she came home from a long day at work. He would leave her cocktail for her on the kitchen counter, so it was the first thing she’d see when she walked through the door. They taught me it isn’t always grand gestures, but a lot of the small ones that count.allimae2011

“My abuela started losing her memory early on but she always remembered the story of how she met our Abo until the day she passed. I was the type of kid that kind of resisted learning spanish, but hearing her tell those stories in her beautiful Puerto Rican accent made me fall in love with the language in a way I had never before. I owe my love of spanish and story telling to her. She was a wonderful story teller and I’ll always hold the fondest memories of sitting in her terraza with her 70s furniture, drinking cafecito, and talking about the man who made her fall head over heels in love.” –
alfonsina_mj

“Hearing them talk in the kitchen, drinking their coffee while listening to boleros.”- mel_aguirre1

“Making homemade tortillas with my ama.” – alwaysdulcee

“My Cuban 🇨🇺 Abuelitos riding in the back seat of their Mercedes and watching Abuelo open the door for Abuela every time. My Mexican 🇲🇽 side was making tortillas with Abuela and Abuelo teaching me to drive his truck. At 7 years old!” – brigittecasaus

“Making tamales for us just because.” – angierivera4265

“Cruising with my grandpa, building a studio with grandpa, changing the oil, tire, battery and learning to pump gas with grandpa. But my favorite one, him teaching me to read a clock with a song.” – 2ev37

“Meeting my grandma for the first time when she came to visit us in the US. I was 4 years old! It was so exciting because I would only speak to her in the phone and to finally meet her was a blessing. She was such an amazing lady ! She passed away 7 years ago. I wished she and I could of seen each other more often.” –_lizzylivvy28

“I would sit down on the little old sofa in our living room with my abuelito. He would tell me stories about him when we was younger. I always loved it when he would tell me the story about how he met my abuelita.” –
emigandar

“My grandparents weren’t together anymore, but they we’re 2 special people. My grandpa would always call at the crack of dawn on my birthday. I hated it as a kid, but loved it as an adult. And I’ve missed them the last few years of his life. My grandma would make our birthday cards and send them via mail. When we’d get them they would always be different. I miss those A LOT. They were always personalized and she knew details about the things I was going through so she made them specific to that. It was so special the little things they did for us. We lost my grandma 7 years ago and my grandpa a year ago in July.” –e_bonita89

“They raised me so having coffee with both of them. Eating watermelon with my grandpa and then reading together. Watching old movies together then taking naps. My grandma and I love watching novelas and then talk about them. I still walk with her to 26th street (little Village) or to our nearest aldi.” –melyssa.1997

“Mi abuela used to wake me up on weekends. She would enter the room singing “buenos días su señoría mantantirulirula”. She used to give me a hair brush, and while she was opening the window she would say “brush your hair hija, so the sleep will go away. I opened the window for it to go”. I would brush my hair and convince myself that I got rid of my sleepiness. My grandma is 90 now, and she’s still magic like this.” – iamevyi

“In 7th grade I missed the bus, and I hated missing school, and I cried the entire day because I was scared my parents were going to yell at me, and my grandma stopped my dad before he came in and told him what happened and how it was her fault I missed the bus, because she accidentally unplugged my alarm, even though it wasn’t true.”-
tinnaafaceee

“When my daughter was 6, I took her to visit my grandparents in Mexico. We arrived to the airport at night. It was crowded, a little disoriented, my baby seemed nervous as we were going through customs & she asked me “what if Grandpa can’t find us?”, Just then I saw movement through the large window ahead of us, it was my Abuelito, elbowing his way through the crowd, waving and smiling at us. He was always there when I needed him.” –magpieinaz

“Abuelos? Don’t have them. (Bad joke) They passed before I ever got to meet them. My parents never really talk about them, I think it’s too painful. I often wonder if there are any traits I have from them or if I do anything that my parents might say, oh she got that from my mom/dad. I’m happy my son has all 4 grandparents; I take a billion pictures of him with them.” –_nancysalto

melannramAyy mis abuelos; I truly believe they were my soulmates. So many favorite memories. From my grandpa waking up early to start praying and writing his devotionals, to them sitting on the back swing HE MADE praying the rosary, playing backyard baseball with him & my cousins, my grandma sitting outside watching while croquets, watching novelas with her, they were the loves of my life, the sunshine my soul always needed to be happy….I’ll never trade any of my amazing moments with them. My angels; Catalina y Felipe Sustaita ❤️

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

Culture

This Boricua Is Being Forced To Defend Her Identity As An Asian-Puerto Rican On TikTok

@Keishlaheli / TikTok

People of all sorts of racial identities and backgrounds exist all over the world. However, many people remain ignorant to the ways in which different cultures and races change and take on new identities – especially as mixed race individuals are so often forced to walk a thin line between their identities.

Now, a popular Tik Toker from Puerto Rico is being forced to defend her identity as a Puerto Rican because trolls are accusing her of cultural appropriation. Although she might not look like what many expect a Puerto Rican woman to look like, Keishla is all about educating her followers and giving a voice to mixed race Puerto Ricans.

TikToker Keishla is being forced to defend her identity as a Boricua simply because she also has Asian heritage.

Mixed race communities and cultures exist everywhere. Facts are facts. But it’s obvious that not everyone is willing to accept these facts. Case in point: Keishla – a very popular TikToker, who is being forced to defend her own identity.

Keishla, who was born and raised on the island in the town of Borikén is obviously of Asian descent but she also claims her Puerto Rican identity with pride. Videos addressing the topic have gone viral and the comments that followed show a widespread lack of understanding about the diversity of race in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Keishla’s parents were born in China and later migrated to Puerto Rico, she explains in several videos. Some users, however, refused to accept the facts.

Keishla has had to deal with many ignorant comments across social media, but she’s got thousands of supporters also.

Ever since she launched her TikTok channel, users have come for Keishla and her identity and many have accused her of cultural appropriation.

While apparently trying to invalidate Keishla’s identity as a Boricua, one user wrote, “Lol u may consider her Puerto Rican but I don’t. Blood is more important than how she acts to me she can copy us but will never be us.”

And in typical Keishla fashion, she had the best response: “I respect your opinion, even though it’s a shitty opinion.”

Despite all the ignorance and trolls, Keishla has also seen an outpouring of support from fellow Boricuas, Latinos, and others among her more than 53,000 TikTok followers. The conversation has even moved over to Twitter, where many are supporting her identity while also addressing the hate from others.

“There’s a whole ass history of Asians in Caribbean culture,” one user wrote.

“Asians worked next to the slaves in the sugar cane fields in Cuba. Cuba has one of the oldest China towns in the Caribbean. So many Caribbean people have Chinese descent. Y’all don’t know how colonization work.”

Keishla is not alone: the Chinese have a long history on the island of Puerto Rico.

Credit: U.S. Library of Congress

Much like the mainland United States, Puerto Rico is a diverse community of cultures and races from all over the world. Anyone in the island or anyone who visits will notice right away that there is a major Asian community. Although it’s particularly conspicuous in the restaurant industry – with the traditional comida criolla – that’s not all. The Chinese community has contributed to Puerto Rico’s culture and economy in many significant ways.

Today, there are tens of thousands of Chinese Puerto Rican’s on the island. And although the most recent Census data only reports Asians as making up 0.2% of the population, many academics believe the count to be much higher.

Chinese migration has a long and varied history in Puerto Rico, with it reaching its peak in the late 1850s to 1880s. Many were fleeing war and economic devastation, and hundreds of thousands made their way to the U.S. – including Puerto Rico.

Some of these Chinese immigrants went instead to the Caribbean, though—some first to Cuba, where they were incarcerated due to labor revolts, then to Puerto Rico, where they served their sentence in what was essentially slave labor, working on major infrastructure projects.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Keishla? Let us know in the comments.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com