‘White Girl Asian Food’ Reaction: Cultural Appropriation Police Want to Control What People Think

White Girl Asian Food and Breakfast Tacos

Identity politics zealots will not rest until they control the thoughts, as well as the behaviour, of everyone else

Taking a break from writing something more serious on the subject of identity politics (watch this space), I spent some time today amusing myself by reading some of the apoplectic reactions to the White Girl Asian Food truck in Austin, Texas.

Some of the sentiments expressed were hateful and vile, while others tended towards hand-wringing incredulity.

This blogger has trouble balancing her desire to praise a female entrepreneur with her clear uneasiness at the “cultural appropriation” at work:

On one hand, I’m glad it doesn’t claim to be authentic Asian food. According to an interview with Vice, she changed the name of the food truck from “Com Bun Yeu” to “White Girl Asian Food,” so people would stop assuming she sells authentic Vietnamese food. Her goal was to make it clear that she was “a white girl cooking [her] rendition of Asian cuisine [and she] couldn’t think of a name that was more honest and straight to the point” than “White Girl Asian Food.”

I also respect her and her family for leaving their home and living out their dreams of owning food trailers – that takes a lot of guts. It’s also amazing that she’s part of the 26% of female-owned food establishments. You go, girl.

But, on the other hand, I’m irritated that she combines the bare bones of a few cuisines and shuffles them under the umbrella of Asian food. There will be people who eat at this food truck and assume this is what Asian food is all about when this is a false representation of an extraordinarily broad cuisine.

At the end of the day, I think the food truck should stay if it receives a large helping of cultural humility. But changing its name (again), in English and Vietnamese, to better represent the food served would be a great next step.

This is certainly one of the more measured responses, but still it reveals everything which is ultimately wrong (and doomed to create more problems than it solves) about the broader identity politics movement.

At one point, the author – Jocelyn Hsu from UC Berkeley – frets that “there will be people who eat at this food truck and assume this is what Asian food is all about.”

So what? Every day there are people who eat at places like Wagamama or P.F. Chang’s and lazily believe that they are having an authentic culinary experience. They happen to be wrong (not that there is anything wrong with P.F. Chang’s – I would pay good money if they opened a restaurant here in London), but their misapprehension in no way impacts on anybody else.

At most, one could argue that by splashing around in the paddling pool of more Westernised interpretations of Asian cuisine they are denying themselves the opportunity to experience the authentic food of another culture. But even if this is so, the cultural appropriation police are still light years away from establishing a link between one person’s ignorance and another person’s harm.

In his epic debates against the religiously inclined, the late Christopher Hitchens would often say that even accepting the deist view that there is a God, the faithful still have all their work ahead of them in order to prove that God has indeed revealed himself to mankind, and that certain chosen people have been favoured with knowledge of God’s nature and detailed commandments for how we should live our lives. Similarly, even accepting the idea that cultural ignorance harms the culturally ignorant, the identity politics cultists of today still have all their work ahead of them to prove that a white American’s assumption that chop suey is a commonly eaten dish in China in any way harms Chinese or Asian American people.

Unless, that is, one believes that minority groups can be harmed by even the unexpressed thoughts and beliefs of another person. If you believe that it is possible to inflict grave harm merely by misunderstanding the cultural history and “lived experience” of another identity group in your own head, then the anger and paranoia start to make more sense.

And of course this is exactly what the cultural appropriation protesters do believe. To them, it is not enough for other people to think their own private thoughts unmolested, facing criticism only when they commit an act of overt prejudice. Rather, all unknowing heretics must be badgered into thinking the “correct” thing, even if they were not themselves spreading misinformation.

By applying this extremely high standard for cultural awareness, minority groups will not stop incurring real harm until every last septuagenarian in Des Moines understands that the Panda Express drive-thru they visit every Thursday lunchtime is in fact not typical Szechuan cuisine.

There may be an academic term to describe this frantic need to control and tweak the thoughts of other people, though I have not yet come across such a phrase in my reading of Haidt, Haslam, Campbell or Manning.

But I would call it a plain old inferiority complex – and a quite unnecessary one at that, for every cuisine and culture possesses its own inherent value, cannot be “invalidated” by the ignorance or even derision of others, and does not require the full understanding and approval of white America in order to exist.

There should be room on this Earth (and in America) for the White Girl Asian Food truck and authentic Asian cuisines to peacefully coexist. Ironically, the only ones arguing otherwise are the people who march under the banner of tolerance.


White Girl Asian Food - Oppression

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Cultural Appropriation Hysteria – NPR Earnestly Debates The Merits Of Culinary Segregation

White Girl Asian Food - Cultural Appropriation

Put the chopsticks down and step away from the rice bowl, Timmy!

While our universities become increasingly unrecognisable places where academic freedom is curtailed and human behaviour restricted in the name of identity politics, NPR is fretting about people of one race and culture having the audacity to cook the cuisine of another:

Recently, we started a conversation about food and race. Specifically, we wondered out loud, who gets to cook — and become the face of — a culture’s cuisine?

[..] As with many things involving race and class in America, there are no easy answers — and we’re not expecting to find any clear-cut ones. We’re more interested in starting a conversation.

Here’s some of what we heard from you.

On one hand, many of you pointed out that cooking the cuisine of other cultures is a tangible way to connect. That’s part of what makes America a literal as well as figurative melting pot.

[..] At its heart, food is about identity — about where we came from — which is why the topic of cuisine and who cooks it can be so personal and complicated for some.

[..] Many of you stressed the importance of approaching the cuisine of others with respect. And that means highlighting not just the ingredients, but also the culture behind a dish.

Read the whole thing. The article is littered with numerous examples of narcissistic, self-obsessed, virtue-signalling statements sent in by NPR readers and listeners, each competing with one another to be the most enlightened, compassionate warrior fighting for those poor people whose very identity is being erased by the likes of Panda Express and Chipotle.

The upshot seems to be that a plurality of NPR listeners will very graciously allow us to continue cooking the food of other cultures, as long as we do so with sufficient respect and reverence for the culture from which we are borrowing.

But don’t you dare seek to make a profit on the back of a cuisine which is not identified with your personal ethnic background, because that is clearly a step too far:

Some of you said what’s bothersome isn’t so much whether a person of one race or ethnicity is cooking the food of another culture. That can be done respectfully. The question, then, is more about opportunity — who has a chance to profit from making a cuisine?

The idea that the value of something should be determined by the consumer rather than some prissy Identity Politics oppression-based algorithm seems anathema to Twitter user Chandra Ram and a number of other NPR followers.

How long, then, until some virtue-signalling  Identity Politics cultist proposes a system of “culinary reparations”, whereby restaurants are entitled to serve the modified cuisine of marginalised cultures only if they pay a some kind of tax on their revenue, to be distributed equally among everyone who can prove membership of the “injured” ethnic group?

And if you think something so ludicrous would never happen, just wait until the current crop of students passing through university have graduated, entered the job market and worked their way into our political system.

That’s the hipster food truck industry in London decimated, for a start.


Postscript: One of the best responses to the attempt by Identity Politics cultists to re-segregate our cuisines along ethnic lines comes from this Reddit user:

Cultural Appropriation - Food

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