In case you missed this one over the past week, there is a new restaurant in Puerto Rico called ALOZ FLITO, and as you can guess from the name, the title is playing off the tired and racist stereotype of how Asian can’t pronounce their “r’s” and “l’s.” The “pun” is based on the Spanish for “fried rice,” which is ARROZ FRITO. In fact, if you want to crank up you racism, it’s as if a store called FRIED RICE was actually called (and pronounced) as FLIED LICE. Do you we really need to explain how problematic this is or the history of anti-Asian racism? Do we?
But hey, Juan Peña Romero, the chef of the new place is defending it, essentially saying that Puerto Ricans tend to pronounce their “r’s” like “l’s” just like Chinese people. No, seriously, he said that in the following damage control video, where he claims that no, this is not racist at all, not even the place’s logo ot the Jackie Can references ot the fact that Peña Romero (wait for it) conforms that Chinese people do speak like this.
The video was accompanied by a post in Spanish (our translation follows): “Hi! Here we are explaining our Aloz Flito concept of a Chinese and Puerto Rican food fusion that is truly fun! Since both of our countries pronounce the L instead of the R! We buy our ingredients from the local Asian market! The word ‘racist’ doesn’t represent us and is not part of our mission as a business. We should enjoy ourselves more and laugh more.”
Did we mention that this is 2019? Do we need to remind Peña Romero that he is basing his entire analogy on two different languages too? The racist AF Chinese example is based on English and not a native language. The Puerto Rican example applies to a native language and we wold ask Peña Romero how he would feel if a non-Puerto Rican chef decided to mock how Puerto Ricans speak English using the same tired AF racist tropes that he is using for his new restaurant?
Anyway, as expected, there is no a social media debate going on about whether or nor the restaurant’s name is racist. Huh? There’s an actual debate about this? Apparently. And the restaurant has doubled down on this. (UPDATE: this photo has now been deleted by the restaurant’s Facebook page.)
Just some examples:
“Racist name. Eye sore logo.”
“This has to be the worst joke ever. The name of the establishment it’s a joke on Asian people. This is horrible.”
“racist much??? i say it is.”
“Racist restaurant name. Do better”
Our take? There is nothing funny at all about this at all. Like nothing. Hit it, Gollum:
And before you get all defensive and say, “hey, el Gran Combo sang it before,” we say this: it wasn’t right back then either. Racism is racism, and anyone who defends this one is just defending racism.