1/February/2021

The Privilege of Tikka Masala Tacos

by: Marta González Pascual


Illustration by Fieni Aprilia
www.fiensh.com and Instagram: @Fiensh

Gentefied is a Netflix series that came out in 2020. Throughout the series you can clearly see how violence is embodied through the different characters: Delfina “Fina” Morales is one of the main characters despite she is being presented as the omnipresent force of a deceased wife, so we see how her family —her widowed husband, grandsons and heirs— have to thrive within a neighbourhood in LA where the whole space is being coopted and commodified through the white gaze. The series stands upon a dualism between their original language, Spanish —as the family is originally from Mexico— and English, the language they have had to learn to mingle with the others. Throughout this problematic you see how Pop, the patriarch, doesn’t have much control over the second language, while one of the grandsons, who has gone to study economics, is ashamed of using Spanish to communicate. One cannot deny the different kinds of outbreaks of violence happen during the first season, violence that is not only physical but also linguistic, and amongst anything else, epistemic.

On the one hand, I couldn’t help but think of Barcelona, which is being more gentrified every day: prices are rising, tourists are occupying all flats and ejecting the locals, all restaurants are fancy or seedy enough to be sites of interest for the new buyers. This is happening worldwide, and we all take part in it. Where some see a nice brunch, others cannot afford to pay rent anymore. What is more, when Barcelona was literally on fire for the protests for independence, one could see tourists and high-class people taking pictures of young people being beaten and arrested as if it were a show, something we are currently seeing with the protests all around USA claiming justice for George Floyd, that has originated a massive movement denouncing his assassination, where many of them are just positioning themselves to have more likes, to be more apparently politically correct, to be cool1.

With these two examples I am trying to explain that, in words of bell hooks, we exoticize what we don’t know, like food, and never stop consuming it: avocados, goji berries, chia seeds, matcha, açai, as we’re told so in the media, we put coconut oil in our skins so that they will seem nicer, wealthier, and stop knowing what these things are or where they come from. Do we really acknowledge who are we fucking to acquire all these products? And watching this show, where a bunch of white people want to buy the whole neighbourhood, how could I label them as racist? They are white, nice, educated people who have gone to expensive institutions to get their degrees in economics to kick the trash out of their deserved, modern districts and to have nice hair in the meantime. As hooks shows, there’s a desire to penetrate the ethnosexual frontiers, and the result: a tikka masala taco. We see how the oppressed is headed towards forgetting about their integrity and forced to stir their identity with the oppressor. It is true that the interest in the difference is factual, but not in its entirety; should they eat an ordinary taco in a dungy establishment and they would run away in seconds. You put a little led lights and make the place fancy and nice, while rising the prices and-

“We exoticize what we don’t know, like food, and never stop consuming it: avocados, goji berries, chia seeds, matcha, açai, as we’re told so in the media, we put coconut oil in our skins so that they will seem nicer, wealthier, and stop knowing what these things are or where they come from.”




Fig 1.  voilà, here you have your mixed-race baby taco of the week.
On the other hand, the question of politicized art —or artivism, we could say— is, within the show, compromised under the white gaze and produced as if Ana, the granddaughter, the artist of the family, were an animal of the zoo. Despite seeing the future in that pairing, their own kind doesn’t share her potential strategy: her fight for survival mashes her relative’s attempt of maintaining the family business. Her turning into a white’s homosexual muse is nothing more than an unconscious cultural appropriation (see fig. 1), as she is the difference amongst a postmodern-subversive-posh-literally-white-crowd-in-a-white-gallery that is treated as a product that will eventually stop being trendy —note its relation with the concept of “homocapitalism” by Rahul Rao—. What really is of interest is Ed Sheeran with a Mexican vibe on the background (see fig. 2).
But all pleasures have their downsides, as every tasty meal awaits for a distressing defecation. While Ana has her dream of being both Mexican and lesbian fulfilled her family is being evicted, while some enjoy a glass of rosé others are forced to leave town for not having learnt well enough how to be a zoo monkey. We, and aswe, I refer to the great We of humankind, are doomed as long as we perpetuate the system in which we all live, turning people into martyrs of the project of “intersectionality”. Is it really our fault that we accept the master’s tools? Falling into the liberal economy is sometimes nothing but surviving, and what Gentefied precisely portrays is different kinds of survival and that they don‘t  have to necessarily go through the colonizer.



Fig 2. 
The conclusion of the latter is that white gays need brown gays to be saved from themselves and their boredom. We all play in a carnival, and those who don’t manage to change forms at a time, they die. There’s a desire for the last trend, the unseen, that special taco of the week that won’t last forever, despite knowing that all efforts to maintain your family afloat you will only breathe behind a mask with an only hole in the mouth, knowing that the carnival, like other magic creatures only happens at night, whereas during the day the status quo remains intact. May the white gaze be interested in those tasty tacos, or in a chicana’s art, but only by selling their identities, their ancient recipes to the best bidder.

“White gays need brown gays to be saved from themselves and their boredom. We all play in a carnival, and those who don’t manage to change forms at a time, they die.”



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About the writer:
Marta González Pascual



[1] I am totally conscious of the gap between the two cases exposed here, as what happened in Barcelona was a nationalist cause, which most of the times is what excludes a great part of population while trying to gain freedom for others. What has happened with Floyd is a human rights drama and precisely a lack of consideration of what a human being is in the West.







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