The Unifying Power of Tacos

tacosToday is Labor Day in the United States. It’s a day when we honor the labor movement and the contributions of the worker. It’s also a day that is considered the “official” end of summer – or at least the summer BBQ season. But today, I’m not going to talk about ribs, tips, burgers, hot links, chicken, coleslaw, corn and potato salad (hungry yet??). Today, I’m going to talk about tacos.

Last week, the co-founder of Latinos for Trump warned that, if Trump loses the election, the consequence will be seeing taco trucks on every corner. Now, I don’t have the time or energy to unpack the glaring issue of self-hate/internalized oppression that his statement revealed. I’m trying to focus, my point is tacos.

During this time, I was attending a conference in Los Angeles. I was basically cut off from the news cycle until I skimmed my social media feeds in the early mornings and late nights. One day, during lunch, a friend and I set off in search of a taco truck near our hotel. About a day or so later, I discovered Gutierrez’s statement via social media (some news clips, mostly memes). I later tweeted my own thoughts:

I don’t think that I know anyone who doesn’t love tacos.  (Let’s be honest, I don’t think that I want to know anyone who doesn’t love tacos). It brings me joy to see people from all ethnicities and walks of life coming together through tacos. (Really, I’m not being sarcastic!) However, I want to make one thing clear . . .

If all you know about the Mexican culture is tacos, that’s a problem. If you are all about #TacoTuesday but think that “illegal immigrants are stealing our jobs,” that’s a problem. If you can list every possible meat used in tacos but don’t know the name of the Mexican dude who cuts your grass every week, that’s a problem. As one who is deeply committed to reconciliation/conciliation* (*that’s a whole other blog post – in the meantime, see Mark Charle’s post for more info), I believe that food is an entry point. One way to experience other cultures is through their food, but your journey cannot and should not stop there.

P.S. I am not presenting myself as an expert authority on the Mexican culture (or any culture, for that matter). I’m just trying to encourage all of us to build relationships with people whose backgrounds may be different from our own.