5 Latino Things People Are Guilty Of Columbusing

It's Columbus Day — a controversial holiday blasted for its celebration of a European man who essentially spurred the mass genocide of Native Americans and took credit for the "discovery" of a continent that had long been populated by indigenous people. 

Columbus Day has become a problem — and a punchline. Most recently, College Humor coined the term "Columbusing" to describe instances when hipsters or WASPs "discover" something that has existed forever in different cultures. 

First, Vogue declared big butts the latest fashion trend. Then Marie Claire essentially labelled cornrows — or epic "bold braids" — as new beauty fad. Chanel sent their models down the runway in "urban tie caps" (a.k.a du-rags), and Elle wrote an entire piece calling Timberlands the "happening" boot of winter. Please. 

In honor (horror?) of Columbus Day, let's discuss just a few of things that have been "Columbused" from Latino culture. Sound off in the comments with your own:  


1. #1: Empanadas

Back in 2013, Buzzfeed caught some major flack for declaring hand pies the next big foodie trend. Yes, they called them hand pies.  "So, have you heard about the new kind of pie that's all the rage lately?" they wrote. 

To clarify, they were talking about empanadas. You know, that brand spankin' new trend that was only recently discovered. The writer later declared that they can be "sweet or savory", and you can even fold them into little half-moons. We can't even make this stuff up. 

2. #2: Booties

In one of the most blatant act of Columbusing this year, Vogue released an article proclaiming it the era of the "big booty."

"For years… a large butt was not something one aspired to, rather something one tried to tame in countless exercise classes," they wrote. "Even in fashion, that daring creative space where nothing is ever off limits, the booty has traditionally been shunned." Um — what? 

They go on to praise Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea (yes, seriously) for the advent of the fashionable booty — completely missing two of the women who helped make ass beautiful in the mainstream, Selena Quintanilla and Iris Chacon, and barely mentioning Jennifer Lopez

3. #3: Blow Outs

When Drybar first launched, fashion and beauty experts labelled it the hottest new trend. You could walk into a salon and *gasp* get your hair shampooed, styled, and blow-dried. Naturally, most Latinas and black women were confused, considering that this "new" trend was basically the equivalent of walking into any Dominican salon and asking them for a blowout. 

4. #4: Kale

Over the past several years, food experts and magazines have labelled kale the newest healthy eating trend. They made it seem as though kale was this brand new invention — perhaps one of those foods recently concocted by scientists in a laboratory by mixing together a bunch of different veggies and fruits. But kale is far from new. Brazilians have used the vegetable as an essential side dish in one of their most beloved comfort foods, feijoada. Their ancestors, the Portuguese, used it before them. Not to mention, African-Americans have been eating kale for… well, basically forever. 

5. #5: Burritos

From Chipotle to Taco Bell, you can find Mexican (or Mexican-inspired) food any time, any place these days. That's great. We love tacos and burritos and salsa and guacamole. But, recognize that there's a big difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.

Next time you dig in to a barbacoa burrito, think about the culture that inspired your dinner. In May, Chipotle announced plans to print original stories by famous writers on its paper goods — but they didn't even bother to include a single Latino author in the mix. How is it that a company that earns millions of dollars of year because of Latino culture, can't even take a moment to celebrate or memorialize it? 

As NPR notes, Columbusing can be a good thing: it allows us to experience and appreciate cultures other than our own. But, one must ask themselves a series of questions before partaking in the experience: "Am I learning from this culture? Are people from this culture benefiting from my spending money here? Am I engaging with them in a thoughtful manner?"

In the case of Chipotle, it was an affirmative 'no' on all counts.