Going into 2018, Develop New Albany has two huge unresolved issues to address pertaining to the Taco Walk last August.
One of these is DNA's encouragement of cultural appropriation during the event, which refers to sombreros, maracas and the Frito Bandito -- or, Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotyping.
Tacky acts of cultural appropriation simply were not necessary for the success of the Taco Walk, which was intended to be a celebration of the restaurant community and a showcase for downtown. Needless to say, since August, people around the country have lost their jobs for less. I'm not suggesting a purge, but open public dialogue is needed most of all.
The second issue is DNA's blatant expropriation of intellectual property afterward. Simply stated, the idea for the Taco Walk was brought to DNA by Kelly Ott Winslow, a community-minded volunteer outside the organization, and now, in essence, the idea has been stolen from her -- and this is intolerable.
Why do I keep pounding this drum?
If only in part, because DNA is the recipient of taxpayer dollars. They're given to DNA each year by Jeff Gahan, and so he (along with mayors before him) shares responsibility in ensuring the money is spent responsibly. In the case of Taco Walk in 2017, it wasn't.
That's a problem.
Good, bad or indifferent, DNA's non-profit status does not exclude the organization from answering legitimate questions like these. Time and again, we see that stonewalling behind closed doors is New Albany's major problem, not its desired solution.
There is a simple way to resolve the situation.
To begin the New Year on a high note, the truly decent thing for Develop New Albany and Mayor Jeff Gahan to do is to say they're sorry, both for the cultural appropriation and the intellectual property violation, and to give the Taco Walk back to whom it belongs, although I'm forever mindful of that old Biblical observation about a camel and the eye of the needle.
First this. Then we have the open, above board discussion about cultural appropriation. There is no reason why this cannot be resolved satisfactorily.
Basic human decency, guys. I know you can do it.
It's not about me or my pen.
It's about doing the right thing.
DNA's and the newspaper's masks ... or, thoughts occasioned by an excellent essay called "Meet the man who hides behind a mask."
GREEN MOUSE SAYS: We keep trying to ask DNA about the Taco Walk, and DNA keeps making like Jeff Gahan on the down low.
2017 TACO WALK LINKS
Aug 19Who'd have guessed? William Anthony Nericcio's "aggressive, relentless, and, at times, pathological interrogation of Mexican, Latina/o, Chicana/o, "Hispanic," Mexican-American, and Latin American stereotypes."
Taco Walk teaching tools: Time for DNA to stand up, step forward and begin learning AND teaching about cultural appropriation.
Whether DNA gets a penny, $5,000 or $100,000 from City Hall, it is obliged to be transparent about its activities and expenditures.
Meat Loaf Is the Answer, Part 3: A brief postscript to yesterday's Taco, Broccoli and Lutefisk Walk reference.