Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Incident: “I’m not white!”

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So the other afternoon my daughter and I were at Price Rite [a knock-off version of Smith’s located in the South Valley that doesn’t look at all like any of the other Smith’s around town]. As we were walking down the aisle she pointed out that the Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte was on sale for $2.99. I hesitated for a moment thinking – “hmmm… pumpkin spice? I don’t know about that,” but I went ahead and placed it in the cart after seeing her excitement. I’ve always liked chai tea and so the decision to buy it was made in seconds.

It was a quick one-item trip that always ends up in 5 or 6 but we made our way to check out in less than 10 minutes. There we were minding our own business trying to make it out of the store in less than 15 minutes when the chamako that was packing our groceries muttered something to us as we were waiting for him to finish – “Pumpkin Spice Latte, I don’t know about that.” I was like “What?” and then he says, “Well I guess for you white people.” Oh hell no did that mocoso just call me white! If you know me at all, you know that I definitely didn’t stay quiet. I suddenly found myself yelling out on instinct and defense – “I’m not white! Do I look white to you?! I’m Mexican [you fool!]! Que viva Mexico!”

Yup I managed to get all of that out and didn’t even think twice as I managed to make a scene at the front of the store with the majority of folks looking our way and laughing. The chamako now looking at me wide-eyed, surprised and laughing as well.

This leads me to my next thought – what up with ASSuming a person is white just because they happen to buy Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte? Did I need to explain as the cashier rang me up that I was buying it only because it was on sale? Did I need to justify my actual liking of chai spices? Last time I checked chai spices and chai tea emerged from India, not the US. No people, Chai Latte does not belong to Starbucks or some other US corporation. That’s another problematic issue to address – the cooptation of products that historically and traditionally are rooted in other countries. Like this – the cooptation of chai latte and the cooptation of yoga and Cinco de Mayo celebrated more by the party hardy frat boys on this side of the border than many Mexicanos themselves.

I was disturbed that I had to justify my Mexicana-ness to this lil’ cabron. Pero lo perdono because I know he doesn’t know any better than to associate Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte with the privileged whites and raza that have the luxury (yes luxury) of blowing $5 on a trendy seasonal drink.

So as I regained my composure and held my Mexican head up high, somewhere in the recesses of my mind I screamed – “Damn you Starbucks and Oprah and your corporatized version of Chai Latte!”

#lablogadora #pumpkinspicechailatte #notwhite #wtfchamako

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