Time and time again, people and companies have wrongfully appropriated any culture they can get their hands on. We've seen it from rich hipster brands, popular makeup companies, and even big-time celebrities, but now a blogger has chosen to use Mexican traditions in a way that's offensive to its people as a whole.
Travel and wellness blogger Jenny Niezgoda, better known as The Barefoot Bohemian, shares her adventures, recipes, and more on her blog.
Last week, the blogger began a Kickstarter campaign to open a Mexican frutería in a small neighborhood in San Diego.
La Gracia, she explains, is a "modern frutería" that offers wellness lattes, a plant-based menu, and brightly colored juices.
"I knew I wanted to make a welcoming space, even if it was just for a smoothie on the run," the blogger says while walking through the San Diego barrio.
Niezgoda's juice spot was set to open in Barrio Logan – a well-known neighborhood in the southern area of San Diego.
The neighborhood is known as a culturally-rich area predominantly occupied by Mexican residents. The famous Chicano Park is there, which for many is a symbol of the Mexican-American community and cultural resistance against gentrification and appropriation.
"I'm creating an urban sanctuary," the blogger says (about a neighborhood which has been teeming with culture since the early 1900s).
Niezgoda insists the area has been "up and coming" in the past few years, but locals would likely argue they don't want to be included in the changes that many other big cities have seen.
A quick Google search will show you that plenty of Latino-owned fruterías already exist in in the southern California city.
These popular spots offer traditional frutería items, such as simple fruit cups with chamoy or aguas frescas. Niezgoda's version, however, would have offered nothing of the sort.
People were NOT happy about her tone-deaf campaign, with many taking to social media to mock her.
According to Munchies, Esteban Castillo of Chicano Eats wrote them to explain, "Fruterías have long been an integral part of the Latino community, providing us with affordable fruit cups, aguas frescas and otras chucherias on hot summer day. These fruit carts have often been an only source of income for people of color. Niezgoda was looking to insert herself into a community where she was not needed or wanted."
The blogger responded to the backlash from the Mexican community, explaining she wouldn't open La Gracia after all.
"I simply hoped to be given a chance to create a small business powered by San Diego women, that provides opportunities to learn, engage, enjoy, and grow in Barrio Logan," Niezgoda wrote.
The blogger, however, likely didn't realize what her business would take away from the fruterías who came before her.
The company also responded to haters via Instagram, where it defended the idea of opening in the barrio:
"I, the social media manager, was Yoga trained in Puerto Vallarta, and have spent many winters in Sayulita, and founder spent a very long time in Sayulita," the La Gracia employee wrote. "This is not appropriation or gentrification it's APPRECIATION."