Friday Question of the Day – Do You Find the Fojol Bros. Costumes Offensive, Funny or Harmless?

Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator

Lots of readers have been writing in about the Fojol Bros. petition on

Justin Vitarello doesn’t want to listen when we say his business’s gimmick is hurtful and offensive. He denies that white people wearing turbans and fake mustaches and playing Punjabi music while serving Indian food is stereotype and mockery, and justifies it by saying “no more than five” people have complained that it’s racist. Fojol employees also sport rastacaps and go by stage names like “Dingo” and “Ababa Du”, hailing from “the magical lands” of “Merlindia” and “Benethiopia”.

Sign this petition to let Vitarello and the rest of the Fojol Bros. business know that a lot more than five of us are not ok with their Orientalist and racist appropriation of South Asian and East African cultures.

As of Thursday afternoon there were 832 signatures.

The Fojol Bros. Web site says:

On January 20th, 2009, the fojol bros. emerged from their home in the village of Adams Morgan and hit the streets of DC to share their family traditions with the world. They served food from their family truck and listened to and interacted with folks from all over the world. They watched with amazement as armies of people flooded DC on the day the world changed.

While the fojol bros. may represent something different to each of us, they hope to bring together local communities through a dynamic food experience on DC’s streets. So, when you see or hear the traveling culinary carnival in your neighborhood, please do not hesitate to stop and join the festivities.

190 Comment

  • Is that what “recognize your privilege” means? To express yourself only in ways that are indicative of your own race. Are the Fojol Bros. not free to express another aspect of humanity, whimsical as it is?

    • they’re making money off of promoting racist caricatures. how is that not offensive?

      • So they are like any other comedian that makes money??? Do you think comedians are racist? Does it offend you that they make money?

      • Works for Hollywood, particularly Revenge of the Nerds.

      • Maybe they got their business model from the Washington Redskins.

      • Of Indian descent and have other friends of Indian descent that haver never thought of this to be offensive. On top of them just being over the top and they make good Indian food. I never walked by this thing and thought “oh wow that’s offensive.” If anything I applauded how they were not Indian, wanted to make Indian food, and make it more accessible. My only complaint with them was “Where’s the Naan?”

        • +1,000. If they were doing it mockingly with harmful intent, it would be one thing, but they’re just having fun, not trying to make fun of anybody’s culture.

        • Okay, but I’m married to an Indian and she and a few of her friends take offense at this. So good for you that you don’t care, but there are many people who do.

        • Actually they dont make their food. They buy from an Indian restaurant at wholesale prices and resell it.

          • actually..They have in-house chefs at their facility from each culture that they represent cooking authentic and fresh food. And for those of you who say “white American men” are reheating food on the truck..go by Volathai and meet the chefs on board who aren’t always white, American, or men…they’re working their butts off cooking curries and noodles made to order on woks. Get to know the Fojols before your judge and post.

        • I have Indian coworkers who’ve eaten it, so I guess if it was truely offensive they probably would not. They mostly seem amused by it

        • I agree with KP. I’m originally from India, I think the food prepared by the Fojol Bros is very good, the guys that work there are fun, well-intentioned folks just trying to bring some humor into an otherwise average city. It never crossed my mind that their gig could be offensive to some. Gosh, I guess this city has a lot of sad humorless types. Drew said that his ‘Indian’ friend complained that their ‘naan’ wasn’t authentic. My complaint is that Drew and his ‘Indian’ friend are liars because the bros have never sold naan.

      • they’re making money based on the quality of their product (food), not the gimmick.

        • This is almost never true. Do you think Georgetown cupcakes are really THAT much better than other cupcakes that it justifies the price and the long lines? No, it’s their brand that’s making them money. Same goes for almost every other company in the world.

          • You’re talking apples and bricks. Most of the people lining up to buy Georgetown cupcakes are doing so because the publicity generated by the TV show makes people think that their cupcakes are better than anyone else’s. A box of cupcakes with that store name carries some cachet. A lot of the customers are also probably hoping to get on TV.
            But no one’s lining up for Fojol Brothers because the guys are wearing costumes. The costumes say nothing about the food. And even if you did decide to give them a try once because of the funny looking costumes they wear, you wouldn’t keep going back just for the costumes if the food sucked.

      • So the Fojol Brothers pretend to be from a place that doesn’t actually exist. Just asking here but in order to be “racist,” wouldn’t you have to be making fun of or otherwise insulting a particular race?

    • But that movie, The Dictator, will make millions at the box office.

      People are so goddamn touchy with this political correctness. Freedom of expression and freedom of running a business. If it offends you, don’t buy food from them. Jeez.

    • I am evolving and have not yet decided how I feel about faux-Asian shops, dirty or otherwise. Although, if I find any Philipina nurses frequenting this place, I can assure you I will shut that sh*t down.

    • I throw my support behind all of my Indian brethren on this one … oh wait …

  • People have got to chill out. Seriously, people wasting time on a petition for this?

  • christanel

    First, I’ll state I’m not of Indian descent. Second, From the looks of their costumes it’s a stretch to connect it to East Africa. Third, I don’t think it looks offensive – it’s funny and colorful in an awfully staid and drab city.

  • Is the Smoke and Barrel ad offensive too? It’s clearly mocking white business men.

  • The ridiculous killjoys are at it again. I know the kind of people who find this offensive, and let me tell you, those people never laugh at anything. Ever. Oh sure, they have “fun” at their rallies and marches and oh-so-serious get-togethers. But do they laugh? Nope.

    • That’s a lovely ad hominem.

      • It didn’t take you long to confim my point. I mention that the people behind this petition have no sense of humor, and you respond with a comment about formal logic. Like I said, nothing is funny to you people. That’s no way to go through life son.

        • And that’s your second ad hominem.

          I note given your defense of humor based on stereotypes that I am not surprised at your choice to paint me the same broad brush that you choose to use to stereotype the petitioners; however, I have neither signed the petition, nor intend to.

          Telling stories about how you think the world is does not mean that it conforms to your strawmen.

          • Wound a little tight, aren’t you, bro? Do you talk this way in real life? ‘Cause, if so, you probably ain’t that fun.

          • Geez, stop throwing out fallacy names like it helps your argument.

    • the kids who started this movement against fojol are occupydc kids. i’ve been in mcpherson square at occupy when fojol came and donated plenty of food numerous times to occupy’s movement. occupy loved it. they were so moved by fojol. now why are they against them? what are their intentions? what are their motives? why do they need to fight a local business that supported them???

  • Ah, call the P.C. police! Jeez.

  • Up until now I had assumed that the costumes were an excuse to dress up, kind of like drag queens do, probably on the less tasteful end of being gimmicky but not outright offensive. Can someone explain why they find the costumes offensive rather than playful/silly? I’m honestly curious, I thought I had a pretty good feel for what crosses the line when it comes to things like this, and the change dot org petition doesn’t give much in the way of background or explanation.

    • The person who started the petition probably thought he/she didn’t get enough sauce on their meal and got bored one day. Just my theory. Then the idealists signed it.

    • the costumes are definitely closer to the playful side of life and serve no purpose to mock for profit. your perception is much more fine-tuned than those activist, petitioners’

  • nope, totally do not find it offensive. It’s a light hearted poke at best.

  • There are so many other issues that this city needs to focus on right now. The fact that someone finds this jovial stuff offensive actually offends me. Let’s start a petition to remove every politician from the DC gov’t that currently has criminal investigations into their conduct.

    • “There are so many other issues that this city needs to focus on right now.”

      I think it’s already been determined that this is the biggest non argument and worst point one can make in a debate.

  • I am from Germany and I do not give a damn if people that are not Germans dress up in Lederhosen, with stuffing in the belly of the shirt to make themselves fatter, and serve Sauerkraut while playing oompa music.

    • I don’t want to tell you how to run your comments or anything but people with a history of trying to take over the world and start their own master race might want to sit this one out. Just sayin …

      • Right, because assuming all Germans are nazis isn’t racist. There IS another German culture…

      • Wow. Godwin’s law strikes again. Well done, sir. A more original comment couldn’t have been made.

      • Yikes, your comment was out of line. Give the German a break.

        • It was meant as a joke but perhaps a poor one. I thought it was funny though but I have a warped sense of humor. Of course I don’t believe all Germans are Nazis. I don’t even think most Germans are nazis or a plurality of Germans are Nazis. I still do think it was a little silly to use Germany as a basis for comparison though. People that have not been the subject of discrimination generally are bad examples to hold out in this instance.

  • FWIW, Fojol Bros. were one of the first food trucks in this town, so they deserve some applause for being pioneers. I have never actually eaten their food, but seeing them driving around in 2009 and waving at passerby always brought a smile to my face.

    And if they are so darned offensive, why did it take three whole years to get this silly petition started?

    • Totally agree with this! I remember the first time I heard/saw them driving down the street — food trucks weren’t really a regular thing yet in the city, and I saw the characters as just that — performers. It was always fun to see them driving by. Never had the food, but really enjoy their presence around the city — lots of great energy.

      • Indeed, when Fojol Bros. first began, it focused on serving what would be best described as “party corridors” (Dupont, Adams-Morgan, U Street, H Street) on weekend evenings. Costumed servers presumably provided a good marketing gimmick for a clientele that was presumably on its way to getting inebriated and was unfamiliar with food truck fare as an alternative to fast food or jumbo slice pizza. But Fojol has changed its marketing focus, and now mainly plies the lunch trade. I find their costumes pointless rather than offensive, and don’t think it works as well as a marketing device with federal bureaucrats in SW Federal Ghetto as with partygoers on U Street. They’d be better off improving their food and offering faster service than creating silly backstories for “characters” or replenishing their fake mustache supply.

  • Joyless people unite!! DC can be fun you say? I say bah humbug to that and sign my petition to remove these joyful souls.

  • I was born and raised in a foreign country (a “third world country” that is heavily stereotyped, mind you). And although I have lived in the U.S. for some time now, the lack of humor and utter seriousness of some of you people is appalling. You are so damned concerned about doing the “right” thing that you have forgotten to live. Bending over backwards to assuage your conscience? Lame.

    • You seem to imply that a person has to find humor based on ethnic stereotypes funny. And you find it absurd that some people don’t – to the point that you suggest that such people are merely putting up a false front to “assauage their conscience”.

      May I suggest that you would gain more traction with your interlocutors if you accepted that they might mean what they say? I have no doubt that you find these people to be killjoys; what I don’t believe is that you think them sincere, and that lies at the root of where your arguments continue to go off the rails.

      • “Interlocutors?” Dude, I have a Ph.D. in the humanities, and English isn’t even my first language, but I would never use a word like that. Go out, get laid, and report back to me about how much calmer you feel.

        • I could beat a dead horse, but why bother when you continue to make my point for me? Enjoy your night. I’m turning in.

          • It must feel empowering to hide behind a bland male name. I suppose you are subverting things that way. Yeah, you!

  • 86 Halloween costumes and the stereotypes it pushes while rewarding children with candy. No more slutty nuns. Damn.

  • pop-culture, television, movies and comedy exists by the grace of stereotypes. given how we have treated indians, blacks, women,latinos, homosexuals and others in the past/current, intolerance of mustaches and turbans seems kind of silly.

  • Most of the negative signatures are from people not in DC, who might have not seen the truck in person, but based the vote on the thumbnail photo and 2 sentence paragraph on the petition site.
    I’m kind of offended that someone from another state/city wants to shut down a thriving local business from such little information and personal exposure.
    By the way, Perry’s drag brunch has to go.., such of horrible caricature of women.

  • No, nobody is saying that you’re not ALLOWED to be offended. Some of us are saying that you shouldn’t be surprised that most people won’t really care if you are offended by something like this.

  • I keep seeing this compared to blackface, which is pretty facile. Blackface didn’t become the taboo it is because it was inherently offensive for a white person to dress as a black person. It became the taboo it is: a) because it was the signature visual element of portrayals of black people that were universally offensive and demeaning, and to a lesser extent, b) because it was one of many mechanisms that helped white people to keep the entertainment business segregated. I don’t think it’s helpful to compare blackface, which has a very real history of use for unequivocally racist ends, to these costumes.

    That said, I personally think the costumes overstep the bounds of good taste. But I don’t know, if I walked around with a threshold for offense that low, I think I’d have a stroke.

    • Now that Ashton Kutcher got a buttload of flak for his popchips brownface ad, doesn’t it count?

      The fact of the matter is, these guys are pretty thoughtless and they make bad food. There is no self-awareness or tribute-like feeling about this. I find it offensive.

    • Right. You have obviously read the racial playbook. Totally ok to lampoon certain races and ethnicities but not others. I mean we have a sitting City council member openly trashing Asians and people are like, oh Marion you’re so silly. I think we should find a standard in here somewhere. Perhaps it is just whatever is deemed a protected classification (by the media).

      • This is really the biggest problem. You don’t want to have a dialogue. You want to berate anyone who doesn’t accept your priors.

        Listen, I grew up in an area with real, blatant racism. Like, the kind that comes with hoods. And I’ve thought about racial issues, interrogated my own beliefs continuously for 20 years, and have just provided a nuanced discussion of what I think the distinctions are between this, and, say, blackface. And all you want to do is snark and call me a racist. So, you know what, I’m going to say it: your opinion is invalid, as far as I’m concerned. If you can’t make an argument, don’t bother.

  • This is essentially a lampoon lemonade stand for adults being vilified vicariously, after 3 years, by some with a deficiency of attention for what is perfectly acceptable during Halloween and tangentially tolerated for Saint Patrick’s day stupidity or historically inaccurate Cinco de Mayo “Mexican independence” stupidity: hokey tourist nationalism validated by novelty headgear and a pin or T-shirt suggesting promiscuity –lubed by tinted beer. In every Bucca di Beppo’s Pope room swivels a bust of the current leader of the Catholic church, spreading the gospel or grace 360º from under a plexiglass box and lazy-Susan pedestal to gluttons who are not conducting religious seminaries and can excuse themselves to the “Goomba (sic)” designated restroom. Where is the outrage and petitions decrying desecration of the papacy and Italian heritage in an effort to sell food?

    Or perhaps selling a lassipop from a van behind a fake mustache and floppy turban-ish hat is not the front-burner issue civil rights it is fabricated to be, though yelling “racism” is just as likely to strike a frenzy as “free burritos”. The Fojol Bros have certainly not earned the gold ‘ol racist American credentials which, through legislation, prohibited American Indians, slaves, women, Western Europeans, Japanese Americans, Muslims, South Asians, Latin Americans, homosexuals and plenty more their fundamental human rights. Instead, they are selling vegetarian food, the conscientious consumer’s war cry. Is the picture posted really the face of “racism”?

    If prospering financially from their act and guise makes them despicable, perhaps the following acclaimed hallmarks of contemporary pop-culture escapism are worthy of such scrutiny, reprimand and censorship for condoning portrayals and caricatures of others’ race, religion, sexuality, age, disability, social class, stereotypes, etc… other than their own, for our entertainment, courtesy the makeup & costume dept. (“The Simpsons” notwithstanding):

    Anything Mel Brooks
    Most contestants of “Let’s Make a Deal”

    Peter Sellers: The Party

    James Earl Jones: Soulman

    Richard Pryor: The Toy

    Pryor/Wilder: Hear No Evil, See No Evil

    Dustin Hoffman: Tootsie

    Williams/Lane/Azzaria: The Birdcage

    Entire cast: Revenge of the Nerds


    Dudley Moore: Arthur I & II

    • Bravo.

    • Agreed.
      Also to add to your list: the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

    • Art (film) is an apple to the orange of commercial fast food out of a truck. These guys are straight up doing a racist shtick to sell more slop. Comparing them to Richard Pryor, a real artist, for example, is completely ridiculous.

      • Why are we pretending that art can only be on a stage or a screen? Art is what you make of it and many chefs that I know consider their food/business to be an art…

        It all gets so confusing and silly. When do costumes and play become offensive? They are making delicious Indian food, so therefore aren’t they already celebrating the culture and not mocking it? The costumes and color add some whimsy which I find delightful and good spirited.

        • Well, your “delightful” “whimsy” is also racist and offensive to others. You’re okay with that, understood.

  • The costumes are stupid, but harmless.

  • None of that matters, though. These guys are food truck owners. To hipsters that’s the equivalent of what being a baseball player used to be to kids in the 50’s. Most of the posters here will defend their idols to the death.

    • you are assuming people defending them are “hipsters” that’s your first mistake.

    • I’ve got the Fojol 2009 rookie card. Had the Takorean Topps too but lost it when I put it in my bike spokes.

  • I didn’t see the fifth option of “stupid”. I’ve seen these guys now for almost four years, and I gotta say that the food isn’t good enough to justify the costume. Bizarre gimmicks are only great if they’re backed up by an equally great product.

    • LisaT

      Good point. I’ve eaten from the Benethiopia or whatever truck three or four times, and every single time it made me ill. Lesson learned.

  • I’m sure if they dressed up in black face you would all agree that it’s harmless. Or maybe throw on feathers for a Native-American themed food truck! But then again, DC is home to the Red Skins, so recognizing the obvious is not always a strongsuit of this city.

    • wearing native american outfits wouldn’t be offensive.

      black face is offensive because of the history of doing so, not the fact that it imitates black people.

      There’s nothing offensive about imitating someone, especially when you’re celebrating their culture.

      Not everything can be equated to racism against blacks. Black people have a very different American experience and pretty much everything that could be done to imitate them has been done to repress them. Thats the difference.

    • RE: the Redskins — Although change has not happened, you cannot fairly say that the people of this region are not aware of the controversy regarding the team name.

  • I don’t think its offensive… but they need to rewrite their text. It could be a lot funnier.

  • This is a new trend. It’s OK for hipsters to be openly racist, as long as they do it ironically and/or in good fun. ‘Tis just one dividend of a ‘post-racial’ society.

      • Great article. I especially liked the gratuitous jab at Newt Gingrich whereby the author shows that no matter how you feel about race at least it’s still A-OK to be bigoted against the right sorts of people. Seriously, I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where we can’t make small penis jokes about gun owners.

      • Also, after reading that article, I can’t be the only one who immediatly did a google image search on ‘Urban Outfitters “Navajo” panties’. I wonder if Elizabeth Warren has a pair?

    • +1,000,000

      just because they are probably liberal and think they aren’t racist, doesn’t mean that they still aren’t white men who despite their best efforts have NO IDEA WHAT THEY’RE DOING.

  • I think everyone needs to get over their insecurities. Maybe these people are embarrassed by their heritage and don’t want to be reminded of their own self-loathing.

    Should we petition Miller Lite to stop making white American males to look like complete morons with horrible taste???? On second thought, those commercials do piss me off….

  • Clearly, their schtick is based on stereotypes of a particulat group of people. It doesn’t offend me personally, but then again, I’m a WASPy white guy. But, surely, it shoudl be clear to any reasonable person that it’s based on a racial/cultural stereotype, and could easily be seen as mocking of or offensive to a particular group of people.

    Much like “ghetto”-themed college parties, or similar events based on racial and cultural stereotypes, this is in poor taste.

    Speaking of poor taste- the food is quite awful, and I can see why they needed a gimmick to begin with. Tasteless gimmick to attact people to tasteless food.

  • I said this before, but here goes: I’m of a cultural group that wears turbans and long hair, including facial hair. Seeing the Fojol brothers in their costumes make my stomach fall to the ground. Whether or not their intent was to be, to me they are racist at worst or culturally insensitive at best. I don’t buy their explanations that it is just in good fun when it’s at my people’s expense. That being said, it is a free country and for that I am grateful. They can do what they want, and I’m allowed to sign petitions boycotting them and spend my money elsewhere.

    • thank you. these are the voices we need to hear.

      all you wannabe progressives out there who think we’re post-racial and all that shit, need to listen to the people they are “imitating”.

      • I’m afraid I don’t see why one anonymous voice on a message board qualifies as “the voices we need to hear.” I don’t think this anonymous opinion means more than anyone else’s.

  • Who cares even if they are directly making fun an Indian culture? Eat there, don’t eat there, get a life. PS I found a commemoration of a hate speech film on Wikipedia, and the indoctrination of our children continues.

  • Is this really what our world has come to? really??? that people cant even make a play on regional cuisine and poke a little fun at it, and maybe even enjoy what they are doing and share that with the masses? people…RELAX!!! let folks have fun in life….it isnt a big deal…really…now go eat some of their awesome food that they are sharing with everyone and spreading the word of the culture they are celebrating!!!

    • Maybe you should open up a road side stand, put on black face and overalls, and sell fried chicken and watermelon. It will be a play on regional cuisine and poke a little fun at it. You will be spreading the word of the culture you are celebrating!!!

      • Congratulations! You successfully made a comment WAY more racist than anything said by anyone you purport to be criticizing.

    • So wrong – so true.

  • Whenever I see their food trucks I think of some never before seen region of Oz–maybe somewhere south of the Emerald city. Offensive–no! Fun–yes!

  • Upon asking a Pakistani colleague his thoughts on the issue he laughed at the idea of affluent white American folks being offended on his behalf, particularly when those of middle eastern descent face legitimate hostility and discrimination in this country. He enjoyed their food and even complemented them on the playful nature of their costumes.

    • the fact that he enjoyed their food shows that he is illogical.

      and for every one of him, there is another south asian who is offended. I think the fact that this is enough of a debate is proof that it’s beyond the pale.

  • heres an interesting article on hipster racism

    i’d bet half the people complaining about others being offended are easily offended by people like marion barry. but you know, thats different, right?

    • You’re lowballing the actual figure. The recent thread dealing with Marion Barry not only excoriated him (rightly), but branded all of Ward 8 as racists. So, as with so many other issues, PoP’res show their selective, biased outrage. And can we all agree that “lighten up – they’re just having fun” is irrelevant in a discussion about whether something is offensive or not?

  • Here’s an idea…if you find it offensive, just don’t buy their food!

  • does anyone know where they’re serving today?

  • The artful characters, back story, and truck design can’t be separated from the company. I love what they created by borrowing from many cultures…its a pleasure to see them drive by – and to eat there! Sounds like another food truck wants to put them out of business any way they can.

  • I know these guys personally and they are the farthest thing from racist. These guys are kind hearted and have probably seen more of the world than many of us. They are knowledgeable young men with a sense of showmanship. I think that D.C. takes itself far too seriously.

    • I’ve had a few conversations with two of guys and I found each of them to be dismissive and it was obvious they hadn’t thought through their schtick. one of them tried to tell me that it was some carnival theme or something… what? where is the circus here? the other one said “you know, most people that have a problem with it aren’t even Indian.” okay, so the fact that he said that about 3 years ago means there have certainly been many more than their reported 5 people that have a problem with it. They seemed like flakes who have lost too many braincells from doing drugs.

  • If we did not have this awful history the argument that “this is all in jest” may be acceptable. The fact that people are making this argument shows either a purposeful disregard for history or most likely ignorance.

    and on and on…

    If we did not have this reality, could a person of any race put on black face to look like he was darker, yes, dress the part of a non-white culture, yes, but that innocence was lost long ago with slavery, racism and the their foundation on western colonialism. The fake “color-blind” hipsters of today apparently unaware of their own history and certainly that of other countries are not making things any better.

    • “…yes, dress the part of a non-white culture…”
      I will be starting a boycot of the Beatles, for wearing Nehru jackets.

      • .. how typical, still trying to be ironic and hip … perhaps you should read that article on hipster racism that has been linked to in a couple of posts.

  • As Black man, I must say I love sitting back and watching white people trying to figure out this post-racial America.

  • Wait…one of the employees goes by the name Dingo and they are calling that offensive? A dingo is a wild dog in Australia (that may or may not have eaten your baby). How is that offensive to a specific culture?

  • They make money because they sell delicious food around town- period. I personally love them- the food is great and their banter and demeanor at the window is clever and refreshing usually. I’ve seen them wearing all sorts of costumes from clown wigs to jumpsuits and personally don’t think they are imitating any single culture or group on the whole- they just like to look different. I’m tired of overblown PCness

    Stop hating and start eating.

  • Do any of those who protest know these guys personally? Because how do you know they don’t have any Indian heritage in their families? Because they don’t have dark skin or Indian-sounding names? Now who’s racist?

  • Fojol bros are silly and harmless, if not tastefully so.

    If the people behind this petition really give a sh** about racisim, and people making money off of racism, then they should direct their signatures toward the Washington Redskins and every racist season ticket holder supporting them.

  • I’m from Merlindia and my wife is from Benethiopia. We both find them very offensive!

  • m_i_z_dc


    chill out folks. focus on how people are getting mugged at 5pm on a Saturday in Logan Circle by kids doing it for fun, or how that story isn’t even that uncommon, or how our ‘representative’ wasn’t even allowed to speak at a hearing directly involving DC right, or how .

    And then go enjoy your Friday and have some yummy food sold to you by someone in a silly costume with no harm intended that is pumping that money back into our community.


    • m_i_z_dc

      Damn it. That was supposed to say:

      …or how (insert any myriad things that are actually wrong with our city and may have an actual impact on your life).

    • This is so true. Focus on some real problems

      (and off topic, welcome to the SEC, miz_dc. I look forward to visiting Columbia in the near future to see my alma mater play your Tigers)

  • I don’t think it’s offensive at all, but if they dressed up as Jewish characters and served kosher food there would be a riot. Prosthetic nose instead of fake mustache; yalmake instead of a turban; that scarf thing (I admittedly don’t know the term) draped over the shoulder instead of the sari. People wouldn’t just say it was fun.

    • Right, because those stereotypes for jews have been used historically to ostracize them and cause harm to them in this country and you know… to incite genocide in other countries. Other than that, its exactly the same thing.

      I’m pretty sure that unless you are of a race/country that has a history of oppressing another race and then you use items or mannerisms that have been historically used as part of this oppression, its fine – it can probably be in bad taste, but generally, its not offensive.

      Examples of things that are offensive:

      An englishman dressing up as a leprechaun with a suicide vest on.
      A white guy with black face
      Anyone using the term “injun” or wearing native american outfits when they’re not celebrating the culture
      Pretty much anything belittling jews.
      A british person calling a pakistani, a “paki”.
      A jewish guy dressing up as an arab muslim and slinging a fake ak-47

      These are all obviously offensive.

      Only the hyper sensitive would interpret the truck as racist. How come no one is talking about how they’re celebrating a foreign culture in a whimsical way.

      Sure Indians and sikhs have been discriminated against – but Americans dont have that same history, especially not the same way we have with blacks and jews and to a lesser extent irish and italians. Blame the Brits but dont assume because soemone from Britain doing this would intend to be hurtful that someone in America has the same intent.

      To me, its all about intent. If the intent to harm isnt present, than its not offensive. The reason racism is offensive is the fact that its fueled by hate and aggression, not because it takes advantage of stereotypes for humor.

  • Only in DC would a Fojol petition get traction… The only thing that comes off offensive or off-color is the petition’s use of the word “Orientalist”.

  • I’m really sad to see used for something as frivolous and vindictive as this complaint. All the real problems in the world and some people are drowning in so much privilege that they devote their time to complaining about the costumes of a food truck?

  • Lisa Lampanelli for President!

  • Only in DC would a Fojol petition get traction… the only thing that comes off offensive or off-color is the petition’s use of the word ‘Orientalist’. What’s that about?

    • Orientalism refers to Edward Said’s thesis on the reductive appropriation of Eastern cultures by Western cultures. It’s an important work of cultural criticism that I think most people should familiarize themselves with, whether or not they personally agree with it.

      • I hope the thesis reads something like: “…one should feel uncomfortable using the term ‘Oriental’ or a derivative term when discussing Eastern or Asian cultures.” I’m no expert but it just doesn’t sound right to me. But I do love some $8 Ethiopian from time to time.

        • Be proud of your ignorance, it makes you look good. Or, you know, Google Orientalism and educate yourself. (God forbid.)

          Edward Said was a Palestinian Arab who criticized Westerners for essentializing and caricaturing Eastern culture for the sake of “art”, among other things. His thesis is arguably the primary reason that it is today considered offensive to refer to individuals from Eastern cultures as Oriental.

      • it’s convenient that you’re ignoring the fact the orientalism was a word and had meaning over a hundred years before Edward Said was born.

    • Only in DC? If this were San Francisco, that truck would have been burned by now.

  • If they were serving up African food, would they be doing something similar?

  • hipster racism

  • Uppity DC liberals in search of something to be angry about? Well, color me shocked.

  • The fact of the matter is that it’s SO EASY for them to drop the costumes. That’s all they would need to do. And many Indians have told them that they don’t appreciate what they’re doing but they, white men, refuse to listen. And many white people have been upset by this… why isn’t that good enough that it makes white people uncomfortable? I think the main problem is that this is done without any intelligence at all. There might be a way to do this, but they are so so so far off the mark.

  • Who cares? Also, that idea for kosher food with the workers dressed up as hasids sounds like a great idea.

  • To some people, a cheerful homage to an admired culture is racist. These people are doomed to a life of raging against the wrong machines – in this case a food truck.

    • You said it best

    • Exactly. If people want some perspective, just check the comments on the WTOP, WMAL, WaPo, etc. websites every time DC comes up in the news. That’s actual racism, as ugly as it comes, and there’s no shortage of it. Compared to this unending stream of very real hatred, how is this bit of fantasy/humor even an issue?

  • This is funny considering “Orientals” are hands down the most racist people I’ve ever encountered.

  • I find it mildly offensive that a dude serving food is exposing that much chest hair. Shouldn’t he have to wear a hair net for that???

    I’ve seen these guys around town, and let me say: they were at the forefront of the food truck explosion in DC. If they needed a gimmick to market themselves, I understand totally. After all, it’s not like food trucks were on every block in 2009, and they presumably were throwing a lot of money and their base livelihood into this. These costumes are silly, but I can get why they might have gone that direction to draw attention and to themselves. As to the petition, I would view the 832 signatures as evidence of how easy the internet makes it to get 832 signatures. For anything. Way to trivialize democratic speech.

    • This +1000. Just seeing all that exposed chest hair near food makes me vomit in my mouth a bit.

    So, their attempt to do this whole thing with some decency is obliterated by costumes? Put them out of business and they’ll be replaced by a new truck with much less actual respect for the world.
    Screaming racist in their faces without inspecting their actual motivations and real world results is just plain ignorant.
    Ever think a lot of us white people are sick of the bland worldview of our forefathers and are longing to embrace some color in our everyday lives? Nope, just scream racist, it’s much easier. Makes you feel better too. Whatever, stupid planet.

  • this is the moment that jumped the shark.

  • Given the length of time that this issue has been in the news and the number of people in DC, 832 signatures is pretty paltry. And the PoP poll has only 17% of respondents finding the costumes to be offensive. So at what point do these folks have to change their business model. Is it enough if just 1 person is offended? 10? 200? Does it have to be something that more than 50% of people surveyed find offensive?

    • And how many of these 800+ people work for competeing food trucks, or are friends or family of people who do? I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this entire thing was started by jealous competitors.

  • Maybe the Israelites of RPK can bring a kosher soul food food truck to China Town. It might not be their outfits that are offensive though. But regardless it would probably be acceptable.

  • Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives – Wilde

    This Arturo Viscarra fellow wins the pious goober of the month award, never mind the suckers that buy into his mean little agenda. This sort of trigger-happy muffling will one day turn the world into a rose bush with neither bloom nor thorn; a vast purgatory with 100% consensus and 0% fun.

  • So the next time Washington National Opera does a performance of Aida, they are going to have to find all native Egyptian performers, or face this kind of PC abuse?

  • So – does anyone find this offensive? It’s an email ad I just received from Air bed and breakfast. . .

    ” War is bad. Very bad. So it’s not surprising that most Washingtonians choose to ignore the more somber aspects of Memorial Day Weekend and focus on the barbecue-related side of the holiday. And now that the temperature’s climbing, it’s looking like a great time to kick off your summer with a bit of a road trip.

    What’s that? Not much of a planner, you say? No problem. We’ve got your back – with tons of spaces just a few hours away. So do your duty: go explore your backyard before the humidity gets out of control. We’ll even help you out, with $25 off your next stay (of $100 or more) at any Airbnb listing if you book before Monday, May 20th (code: MEMORIALDAY).”

  • I am astounded at the anger people have for those who are offended by this. So really, if an Indian came up to you and said this hurts his/her feelings you’d let loose with your tirade of “you’re a killjoy idiot chill out people like you make the world worse!” ??? Just curious.

    And for those of you who can’t understand how these culturally insensitive attitudes are pervasive and systemic and how it affects how these minorities are viewed and treated, you are really incredibly blind.

    • I am about two degrees of separation via social networks from the people who stirred up this controversy in the first place, and one degree of separation from many of the people who have been agitating on the issue, and they are pretty much ALL white.

  • saf

    None of the above – I just find it tacky and a bit ignorant.

  • I like that they serve reasonably good food and provide meatless options. The schtick is cornball, but whatever. It is just a schtick.

    Food trucks are pretty played out by now. All in all I’d give them a ‘neutral’. . . to each their own.

  • austindc

    My south asian friends and I are going to put on cowboy hats and Levis and sell Texas style barbecue out of a truck. It might be racist, but we actually really do like cowboy hats, and our barbecue ain’t bad.

  • Any anti-anything movement does nothing more than advertise the diatribes it claims to fight against including anti-racism. Maybe one day we’ll be able to put our differences aside and just laugh at each other.

  • this issue should be taken as a challenge to young indians ( or indian americans) in our city to please please please for the love of gods open up a fun, modern, inexpensive restaurant in our city based on the local cuisine of your homeland.

    in exchange, we will give you money.

  • Come on!!! people should stop being so sensitive about everything, the political correctness BS is making us being afraid to expressing ourselves. The offense is on the intentions.

  • Hey guess what, British people in Colonial Hindustan dressed like that too. Half the ingredients used in curries are not even native to South Asia (potatoes, tomatoes, etc). I don’t think their manner of dress is meant to copy a racial stereotype so much as a specific era. I wish I could find the old picture of the Scottish officer wearing a traditional Kurta-Pajama with a Turban…all in plaid. It wasn’t offensive, it was just clothing!

    Now, if they talk in ridiculous fake accents, that might be a different thing altogether.

  • Hey, maybe while we’re signing this petition we can start one against Perry’s and Nellie’s. I am a woman and am really offended that males dress up as females and perpetuate stereotypes about women being slutty and poorly dressed.

    • COOL- not only are you making light of racism (cultural appropriation IS racism), you are also making transphobic and slut-shaming statements. If you don’t know what those terms mean, which wouldn’t surprise me, look them up. WAY TO GO. You’re not an oppressive jerk AT ALL.

  • ThiS is such crap.these guys have worked hard to start a business and have inspired and launched an industry.political correctness can get bOrderline stupid.spend the energy on chasing drug dealers out of your neighborhoods or go work with needy kids.

  • Doth thou protest when you see a non-Japanese person making sushi in a stereotypical sushi chef outfit, while they play Japanese music and serve Japanese food? GET OVER IT! The Fojol guys started the food truck revolution, they are local entrepreneurs doing right. There is famine, death and disease around the world – protest some of that stuff.

  • It’s not everyday you see such fine examples of white privilege. And the fact that there haven’t been too many people opposing this so far is probably only due to
    a) prevalence of hipster racism among the customer base
    b) South Asians are too small a minority to make a lot of noise – which is why most Indian caricatures go on; it’s almost surprising that we managed to put an end to Ashton Kutcher’s brownface ad.

    As for the “it’s just fun, you need to chill” line, well I think that was one of the standard responses back in the day to African-American opposition to blackface. Do you really need to scrape the bottom of the barrel for racial caricatures to enjoy yourselves?

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