This 'Modern Fruteria' Does Not Have The Chicano Stamp Of Approval

La Gracia/ Kickstarter

La Gracia – a blessing or a gentrification curse? The Chicano Community of San Diego says the ghost of gentrification still lives and they're putting a stop to it. Jenny Niezgoda,  otherwise known as The Barefoot Bohemian on Instagram, recently launched her Kickstarter campaign for a "Modern, Mexican fruteria" right in the Barrio Logan of San Diego. While she may have launched her business with good intention, there is no denying the cultural appropriation that is served alongside her dishes. 

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The travel blogger and self-proclaimed "Chic Nomad" accompanied her campaign with a video that further explained her vision. Basically, La Gracia  would be a "plant-based cocina" that added a modern flair to the traditional Mexican culture. With her blonde locks flowing along the streets of Barrio Logan, the entrepreneur explains that while she's traveled the world and seen many things, Mexico has a left the biggest imprint. She then mentions that she has happily found the Mexican culture right there in San Diego. What she didn't know, surprisingly, is that the area also has a rich history of activism due to gentrification. 

 

 

 

So, while she may be moved and inspired by the rich culture of "Me-he-co" as said on her blog, she still doesn't earn the right take someone else's culture and interpret it for herself. That's what we call gentrification ladies and gentlemen. The travel and food blogger isn't the first one to try this though and time and again, these "innovators" have been stopped by the highly-protective Chicano Community. Niezgoda received backlash immediately after the release of her video from people of the Barrio Logan, Mexican-Americans, and really anyone who saw how gentrified her project was.

“How does she relate? Did those people fight for her? Does she know what those people really mean to us?,” says Betty Bangs, a resident and on-air DJ at the local, community-powered radio station, Radio Pulso del Barrio. “I’ve never seen her. I walk these streets every single day, and I’ve never seen her. How is she walking the streets like she’s part of it or made it a better place? What gives her the right? Because she has money?” Following the backlash from many, the businesswoman released a statement that mentioned she was canceling the project and that, like those in the Latino Community, she was surprised.

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It seems as though the world-traveler didn't do her research before launching the project, but hopefully, she and other businesses like hers will think twice before redefining a culture that's not theirs.