Why Americans Shouldn’t Get Angry about the Flavors of Negros

Recently, Jamie Foxx posted this picture on his Facebook page with an ambiguous comment “BooM!”:

It is a photograph of a restaurant in the Philippines called Flavors of Negros. The actor’s American fans cried foul calling the restaurant racist and insensitive. What they don’t know is that it’s only racist because they’ve interpreted the restaurant’s name using their own cultural context, instead of trying to find out what it means for Filipinos. Hate to break it to Americans, but Negros is an island in the Philippines. So it’s like saying “Flavors of New York” or “Flavors of Los Angeles.”

It’s not even pronounced the same way. The “e” is not pronounced like “ee” or “i,” instead, it’s pronounced like the “e” in “neck,” and the “o” is not pronounced like “ow” or “ou,” but like a short tart “o” sound similar to the “o” in “ostrich” but pronounced in a more abrupt manner.

I remembered a similar incident where a Filipino who just moved to America was beaten up when he wore a basketball jersey that said “Negros Slashers,” which of course is the name of the basketball team of the island of Negros. The Americans thought that it meant he was celebrating violence against African Americans, but really it’s more like “We are the slashers from Negros, and we will beat you in basketball.” Poor kid. He didn’t even understand that the name of his beloved island is considered racist by Americans.

Although this doesn’t mean that there is no racism in the Philippines. Like other countries there is still a battle to educate people about the irrationality of skin-based prejudice, but that issue is totally different from this. “Negro” does mean black in Filipino, and the island was named by the Philippines’ Spanish colonial masters as “Negros” because it was initially inhabited by darker-skinned people. Nowadays however, “Negros” is simply the name of the island. There’s no malice. The people are actually proud of their hometown, and this restaurant obviously thinks that the flavors of the island’s cuisine are things that should be celebrated.

Words mean different things for different countries. Don’t fall into the trap of ethnocentrism, that is, judging other cutures based on your culture, and that should apply to interpreting words and meaning. If a Chinese restaurant called Fuk Yuu can be read as “fuck you,” it does not mean the restaurant is insulting their customers. Thus “Flavors of Negros” doesn’t mean “Flavors of African Americans.” It means “Flavors of Our Beloved Island Called Negros.”

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133 thoughts on “Why Americans Shouldn’t Get Angry about the Flavors of Negros

  1. Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this website needs much more
    attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the advice!

  2. lol, I found that sign to be hilarious. Of course it would be shocking to Americans for obvious reasons. But that’s what happens in this great big world of ours. What means one thing in one country can mean something totally different in another.

    Imagine the Chilean/Mexican pop ballad band from the ’60s called “Los Angeles Negros” (The Black Angels)…I’m sure that t-shirt would be a hit here in L.A. (where I’m from). 😉

    1. Hi Ja!

      Come visit our booth at the 27th Negros Tradefair at the Rockwell Tent, Makati City from September 26-30, 2012 and experience the best of Negros products and cuisine!

      Hope to see all of you there. By the way our new name is Chicken Sarap!:)

      1. Katrina Gonzales,

        I would enjoy dropping by the 27th Negros Tradefair to see what you guys are doing in Makati but that is a long way from Bacolod City. I am blessed to experience the best of Negros products and cuisine everyday in my life but it would be nice to see what others are doing to promote the Flavors of Negros!

  3. I enjoyed visiting this blog, and I agree with Paula that Ja should seriously consider becoming a TV hosts with her very positive attitude and well-balanced views. Keep it up and I truly hope that you will become a famous TV host some day! All the best.

  4. The American fans reacting to it is overblown

    However, the Filipino immigrants wearing Negros Slashers, it’s partly their fault. As immigrants it is THEIR responsibility to know what is offensive to Americans.

    Imagine if Mexicans or Spanish speakers call our puto as “whore food” if they ever they visit the Philippines and bring their own interpretations?

    1. I guess it is important for immigrants to learn about the country that they are migrating to, but sometimes you can’t know everything about a single country, and you’re bound to make some mistakes, which can cause some kind of misunderstanding. If misunderstandings happen, I just wish that people don’t resort to violence like beating up people. Assault is against the law, and I think that the world will be a better place if people tried to understand each other as opposed to beat up each other.

      1. Its always good to ask before committing yourself to anything, specially an assault to another individual. More educated people always ask first before reacting, but not everyone is well educated enough, even in New York City.

  5. We all have it sometimes,
    We react when we are presented with something, and we can act without understanding a full context.
    We are visual by nature, like a blog post, we like to look at a picture first before reading the article.
    In this case, maybe we can put ourselves in these people’s shoes..
    But then, they say foul to racism with just a photo alone and an indiscriminate caption!

    1. Hey Francis. Yes it’s true, no one’s perfect, and we can all be guilty of the same mistake, but we should still try to avoid these hasty judgments. If we constantly remind each other that about tolerance, about trying to understand other cultures, then we will have a better world.

  6. Well put! It is easier to take a pic and tweet it/deride it, but with the same technology, actually look up the facts just as quickly.

    A few things remain unanswered – do you go there, and how is it? 🙂

    1. I’m glad you liked my post. Actually I haven’t been to Negros or to the restaurant. The owner of the restaurant added a comment to this post and said that the restaurant has already been shut down a long time ago. I would like to go to Negros though. I hope someday I will. Thanks for visiting my blog!

      1. We never had the Flavor of Negros Restaurant in Bacolod since I have been here but there are many restaurants in Bacolod serving up the wonderful Negros Cuisine.

        There is one restaurant in the city which has been the first stop for lunch or dinner after picking up family or friends at the airport from the USA, Hong Kong and mainland China. Everyone of them, without exception, raved about the restaurant. Imay’s is the restaurant and it is located on Luzuriaga Street, right off Lacson Street. Imay’s serves up Negros cuisine and also does a wonderful version of old Filipino favorites, such as kare kare, crispy pata and pinakbet. The restaurant is one of the best in the city but the prices do not reflect it, as it is very affordable. Imay’s has air con and fans to keep the customers cool but it is in a a large native style building with beautiful bamboo woodwork, decoration and nipa roof.

        When you come to Bacolod, Ja and everyone, please check out Imay’s Restaurant for the real flavor of Negros..Occidental.
        ~ Gary ~

  7. Hey, thanks for posting this. I did a google search on the restaurant because I wanted to know the meaning behind its name and you’re one of the few people who explains it rather than just make fun of it.

      1. Ja, I want to tell you how awesome I think you are in answering everyone’s Post in such a positive way…You ever thought about doing a Talk Show??? I think you would be amazing…You have such a way with people as everyone here had a different view, but you made everyone feel that whatever they had to say was of importance, whether we all agree or not…That speaks alot about you as a person.. I just think you need to explore the possibility of taking this to the TV girl…

        1. A talk show host? Hahaha. I never thought about that. Maybe I can try that. Hahaha. Thanks for the compliment. Even though I have my own opinions and values, I want to be a kind of person who still respects other people. I’m glad you saw that in the way I post comments. 🙂

      1. To be honest you guys, when a Black American hears or sees the WORD NEGROS, OR NEGRO, we dont think about Google or anything else..It just brings up old verbiage used previously to describe us as a people, in a negative light. So in their defense, they wont Google it as in their minds there is no reason to…Personally, I even stated that they should have checked it out first, but then I had to think, as a Black American. My reaction would have probably been the same until I read the actual article. But since I lived in Bacolod, I already knew what it meant, that is the advantage i had over the others.. So not to sound like a hypocrite, I had to walk in both sets of shoes as I should not have judged anyone myself as I should have placed myself on both sides as well.. We all fall short of perfection, but again, we should just love each other for who we are and not hate each other for what we are…

        1. Hey Paula. Yeah I guess we should also understand that these fans didn’t know about Negros. If they didn’t think about Googling it, I wish they at least read the previous comments on the picture, and there were people there who were explaining that Negros is an island in the Philippines. Yeah I guess Googling is like going the extra mile to understand something, and right now, not everyone gathers as much information about something before reacting so negatively or blasting off judgements and all, but I think we should all start getting into this habit. Maybe this is a wake up call. We should all think before we hate, or hopefully not hate at all.

    1. No dear..He is has won an Oscar and is a continuous fixture in the world of Talent.. He is also a Singer… So Attention?? Publicity? I think he has more than enough…He is a personal favorite of mine and many others…You dont have to like him or listen to him, as really this has nothing to do with him…He just posted something and others took it out of context..Next week there will be something else to follow…This too shall pass!!!!

    2. Hey Cai, well I guess we can’t say if he did it because he wants publicity. I think this issue is more about how the fans reacted and how people perceive different cultures. Jamie Foxx was just an actor who happened to trigger this kind of discussion. But thanks for your comment! I really appreciate it.

    1. If you guys just take a moment to go to Jaime Foxx page on FaceBook, you will see how much he pokes fun at people, even himself,..He also referred to his daughter as HIS SEED!! He is a comedian…You think he funny, check out Katt Williams…This is what these guys get paid to do…Dont get offended by him, its all in fun….Those Americans that got offended, to hell with them,,,They are not too bright as they did not even read the full article…It says WHY AMERICANS SHOULD’NT GET MAD..So if they did get mad, so what!!!! Yes, they should take the time to educate themselves!!!! There are no restaurants serving up NEGROS on a platter, as far as I know.. Jeffery Dahmer tried that, see where he ended up???

  8. it’s my first time to hear about this restaurant and an issue about the racist thing. Lol, they are very sensitive of the “negro” because they themselves are racist and until now there are still some barriers between the white and the black.Anyway, back to restaurant. It was a free promotion tnough.

    1. Well, we can’t really know if those people who reacted negatively are secretly racist. But if you mean that these people are guilty of judging other cultures harshly, and this kind of hasty intolerance is like racism, I can see that. Yes they didn’t know, but I wish they asked questions or Googled a bit before they reacted so negatively.

    2. I have to comment a bit Tess..I think you are taking this a bit too far stating “they themselves are racist”..I am not sure but I think I am the only Black American that commented here and I have kept my comments in the most positive way that I could. But for you to refer to all Black Americans as racist it out of line..Do you know all Black Americans?? Dont read into everything you see in the Newspaper, or see on the News. Not all of us are Racist. There are people of all Races that have good and bad, so for you to make a statement like that is Dead Wrong…I lived in your country and heard many comments made about Koreans and Chinese by filipinos and vice versa, but I would not consider all of you to be racist… Get me???

    1. Hey Sumi. Yeah I think a prankster and a comedian such as Jamie Foxx knew that he was setting off a bomb. He knew that there’d be people who’d react so negatively when there’s nothing really bad about the picture. I think he did it in jest, and he’s probably laughing at the people who jumped to conclusions and are getting so worked up about nothing. Yeah I can’t believe that people think that the restaurant is in America, and the owner of the restaurant actually left a comment on this post saying that they already closed down Flavors of Negros and set up a new restaurant. So the people who are saying “we need to shut them down” should really feel silly right now.

  9. I think Jamie Foxx already anticipated such a buzz in response to the photo. And it’s funny that a lot of people still didn’t spend even a minute to google before responding negatively. Smart ones have already posted that Negros is a province, but I even read a few comments that it’s in America so Filipinos shouldn’t put up a name that might come off as offensive or misleading to them. But heck, Flavors of Negros doesn’t even have a branch in the US! >.< I wanted to comment on that photo too, but just tried my best not to. I hope people realize that that photo was taken in the Philippines, and was probably grabbed by Foxx and posted for the lulz.

    PS: Glad the Flavors of Negros is getting free publicity even in the international market though.. haha.. 😀

  10. That Negros Slashers incident is soooooooo funny! Too bad for that kid though. As for Jamie Foxx, he should’ve at least googled it before posting a reaction. What a dodo.

        1. Hey AJ, it’s all right. Yeah the fans of Jamie Foxx were the ones who reacted badly. It’s possible that he found it funny, so he posted it, but some of his fans were offended. The first time I heard the story about the Negros Slashers thing, I also thought it was funny, but at the same time it was also unfortunate that someone got hurt. Thanks for visiting my blog!

      1. I think what “boom” means is he just fired a gun — at Flavors of Negros. Shows what he actually feels. Same as the fans.

        1. Yes Gary, you been hanging out in my neighborhood….hahaha Got some of those ebonics going on….Love ya my Bro!!!!

        2. Thank you, Paula, my new Cherokee Sis! My last home in the States was in the Greater Miami Area, so I have been to many different neighborhoods and had some friends in all. Even in the Mexican barrios of Homestead and Florida City, Florida.
          ~ Gary ~

        3. Yes, Yes there is nothing like being Culturally Diverse. I would not change any part of my life. I am so thankful to God for allowing me to be able to travel to many countries to see how everyone across the world lives.. I am heading to India tomorrow and hopefully back to the Phils in a few weeks…I cant wait…Its so awesome to meet you Gary!!!!

        4. Have a good trip to India, Paula, and hope to see you all around Bacolod one day on your next trip to the City of Smiles. It has been awesome meeting you, too!!

        5. I am sorry you feel that way May…Jaime Foxx has been posting all kinds of signs from the places he has either been or saw somewhere..He is an Actor but a Comedian first…Please dont take this as a negative shot to the Phils..Remember most of the people that are being negative dont have a clue what “Negros” really means, as they have not traveled there. I was ignorant to the City of Negros myself, before I actually visited. When I arrived at the Airport, the Taxi driver said “Welcome to the City of Negros” I said excuse me, what did you call me?? He pointed to the sign coming out of the Airport and then I got educated..Its just ignorance or lack of understanding but please dont place us all in that box…Believe me girl,
          My sister-in-law is from the Philippines and I have a brand new Nephew and I would kick some serious ass for anyone that dis-respects them or the Philippines…I love my City of Negros!!!! Love my people of the Phils which includes you too MAY!!!! We are Family!!!!

        6. Hello May, thanks for sharing your opinion. However, I don’t think I can agree with you. Boom can mean that he knew he fired a gun, but maybe he thought that doing that was funny, precisely because he knew that some people would get so worked up about nothing. As Paula said, Jamie Foxx is a comedian, so there’s a greater possibility that he’d post something that he thought was funny. Still, we can’t know for sure, but what we do know is that some fans reacted negatively and explicitly said “this is racist” or “I’m offended.”

  11. i am not aware of the negros cuisines, maybe i already have tasted some but i didn’t know how it was called.

    the name of the resto may be misunderstood obviously by foreigners but definitely by a Filipino hehe

      1. It is a restaurant in Negros, not in the USA. Obviously, we can not change things everytime another country has a bad taste of the word we use specially if its our history and culture.

        Of all people who needs to change, are themselves who do not understand geography and other people’s culture before making any judgment. In the case of Jamie Foxx, a man who is supposed to be aware being in the public eyes, he should have done a little research before opening his mouth or posting it on facebook with uneducated guesses. A kinder garden can google that, why can’t an adult, an older man for that matter. It only means, education has a lot to do with it.

        1. When it comes to Jamie Foxx, we can’t really know what his intention was when he posted the photo. His comment on the photo was “Boom!”. He might have been simply amused at the photo, but his fans were the ones who reacted negatively. Not all his fans, but a good number. But I agree with you when it comes to the importance of understanding different cultures. We do need more education when it comes to this. Thank you for visiting my blog!

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