Trend Watch

Yemeni 'Bodegas' Closed in Protest of Immigration Ban

Shop owners protest President Trump’s executive order on immigration

Bodega (“a usually small grocery store in an urban area”) spiked in lookups on February 2nd, 2017, following the closure of many such stores in New York City, as workers of a number of Yemeni-owned stores protested Donald Trump’s recent executive order.

Thousands of Yemeni-Americans and their supporters rallied in Brooklyn on Thursday to denounce President Trump’s executive order on immigration, hours after hundreds of Yemeni-owned bodegas and grocery stores around New York closed to protest the order.
—Liam Stack, The New York Times, 2 Feb. 2017

Bodega came into the English language from Spanish, in which language the word had descended from the Latin apotheca, meaning “storehouse.” The earliest meaning of the word in English was similar: “a storehouse for wine, especially above ground.” In the 20th century the word had switched from storage to retail, as many of the small grocery stores in cities came to take on the name, particularly those that specialized in Hispanic groceries.

Number 48 was cucaracha, number 36 was bodega, but mango was my uncle's bodega, where everyone spoke only loud Spanish, the precious gold fruit towering in tres-por-un-peso pyramids. Mango was mango shakes made with milk, sugar and a pinch of salt—my grandfather's treat at the Eighth Street market after baseball practice.
—Richard Blanco, Mango, Number 61 (from City of a Hundred Fires), 1998

Although there are still many bodegas that specialize in Hispanic groceries, the ownership of stores which may be described by this word has broadened sufficiently enough to defy ethnic homogeneity.

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