June 30, 2020
This statement is a response & defense against a recent review that claimed my store is profiting off of Latin culture. This claim, which had no specific justification attached to it, came from a woman who called the store in outrage. She yelled at my employee who answered, refused to talk to me, hung up, & after I called her back to hear her concerns, yelled at me until I hung up on her because there was nothing else I could do. She left a review that makes false claims about her experience in the store & uneducated claims about who I am, what I do & don't do, & what my business represents. In an effort to keep review sites places to leave reviews & not places to go on ideological & political rants, I am posting the majority of my response to this page. I hope you take the time to read this.
Forgive any typos. I wish I had more time to work on this statement but I have a ballot to drop off & a store to keep alive following 2.5 months of depression & fear that I would lose it. My business is my identity & the primary source of joy in my life. I intend to keep it that way by keeping it alive.
. . . .
The facts are that after you reamed my employee, I called you back & asked how I could help you. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t have called. From word one you screamed that I was an ignorant white woman, told me you didn’t need to tell me why you were upset because all white people are the same & we never listen, & began to threaten me about calling you back before I hung up. Not once have I been spoken to this way & I did not deserve it so I remember it clearly. I immediately debriefed with my employee & two other people who heard my end of the exchange where I showed you respect & concern. You were obviously blackout angry as you claim to remember none of this. But it happened. Meanwhile, I asked you repeatedly to express your concerns to me so I could address them.
You never had a conversation with anyone affiliated with my store about the things you claim. If you did, you would know about my nonprofit that benefits elementary school children in DPS Title 1 schools with a focus on Hispanic immigrant children. You would know that I was supposed to do volunteer educational programs with Museo de las Americas this summer & I have donated to them. You would know I’ve done conservation work with Mayan communities in Guatemala, I’ve lived in Chile, & I rent from a Mexican family who shows my store off to out of town visitors. And if you were upset while in my store, you would have seen that I am a happy & nice person & that I am safe to approach.
I value your feedback because I am a business owner who mutually cares about public perception & the Hispanic community that surrounds me. I am part of it & I have been embraced by it. I make conscious business decisions about what I do & what I sell in order to make my support & appreciation of Latin culture clear, to avoid exploitation, & to show appreciation & acknowledgment that it is Latin cultures specifically that have brought me a lifetime of joy through their use of color, which to me is the foundation of a joyful life. I consult Hispanics I know as well as persons of Latin descent who visit my store about their perception & experience of my store. They appreciate my store because they see me appreciating the celebratory nature of Latin culture, which I obtained by living in San Diego. (I’m well aware of the connection between SoCal & Mexico. Your words reinforce your belief I’m ignorant if not an idiot.) They will literally dance & sing when they walk in the door. My store also brings great joy to non-Latin persons who I guarantee do not shop at my store because it is Latin inspired. They shop at my store because of my pottery, plants, plant education, the joyful experience they get from the colors & music, & because of the relationship I have formed with them. Every other review makes this clear..
I do not advertise that my store is Latin inspired because it will make me money. It absolutely does not. In fact, it makes me life difficult. It is absolute hell that I have to defend myself against false allegations & ignorance about who I am & what my business is & is not because of persons like yourself who choose to not engage in educational dialogue, but instead choose to publicly disparage my store with complete ignorance as to who the business owner is, what they do, & why they do. Persons like yourself do not seek to educate & make change. You are frustrated & it's easier for you to rant online than to have difficult conversations. It is easier to make ignorant statements that make false assumptions & claims than it is to actually address internal issues you may be battling due to personal experiences that are leading to your bias & assumptions about white people's motivations, put your emotional thoughts into clear statements that seek to educate instead of enrage, & to be open to understanding that your assumptions about a person or business may be incorrect. If want change, that is not how you do it.
My store is a pure expression of who I am, which is someone who deeply values the use of color in life & greatly appreciates cultures that do the same. Color is an ultimate source of joy in life & I wish to make it a source of joy in other’s as well because it is powerful. (I address this succinctly on my homepage. I suggest you & other review readers read it.) I advertise my store is Latin inspired to show this appreciation, to give credit to Latin cultures for creating such great joy in my life, & to attempt to let customers know that the colorful experience in my shop that they are enjoying is not my original concept. Not acknowledging the inspiration of my store & in my life would be terribly dismissive. To remove that statement would be even more offensive &, some could argue, would walk the line of cultural appropriation. It would be nice if you took some time to consider what I am trying to do. It may not be perfect but the effort is there. It could be closer to perfect though if you spent time talking to me & told me why you are upset rather than leaving a review hellbent on bringing me down. Why would I ever even give you the respect of listening to you when you won't extend the same courtesy to myself.
Our interaction was unproductive & your treatment of myself & my employee was inappropriate. I would like to be a white ally but being disrespected & ignored when I tried to listen to your concerns while you continued to disparage me makes that difficult. Again, I do not profit off of Latin culture. I celebrate it because it deserves celebration & I give credit where it is due. Despite you attempting to tear down my business because you are upset about society & you've chosen me as a target, I welcome a face-to-face conversation with you about your concerns because they remain important to me. You are welcome to reach out to me to continue this conversation.
I welcome constructive conversation from others as well but I will ask for the same respect I plan on extending you.
- Jessica -