Many in the Filipino community have called out rapper Doja Cat for misrepresenting their culture after she inaccurately described the Filipino delicacy that inspired the title of her latest single. 

Fans slammed her after she released the single, “Balut,” on Sept. 15 and explained in an Instagram story that she named it after the dish because “it signifies a bird that’s being eaten alive.” 

“It’s a metaphor for Twitter stans [obsessive fans] and the death of Twitter toxicity. The beginning of ‘X’ and the end of ‘tweets,’” Doja Cat, who released her new album, “Scarlet,” on Friday, continued. She didn’t respond to a request for comment. 

Doja Cat's, "Balut."
Doja Cat’s “Balut.”Doja Cat via YouTube

Social media users criticized the erroneous description of the dish — a cooked fertilized duck egg that’s eaten from the shell and isn’t a live animal —  as “ignorant,” with many saying her words could prop up more culturally or racially insensitive interpretations of Filipino cuisine. 

“Filipinos see it as a delicacy. Why is that not being conveyed in that way?” said Tony DelaRosa, a Filipino American race scholar and the author of “Teaching the Invisible Race.” “We should uphold it.” 

DelaRosa said Doja Cat’s remarks triggered a flood of reactions because of the ways Asian food and culture have long been stereotyped as weird or thought of as barbaric. Balut, in particular, has been featured in Western media as a sort of “stunt” food, with shows like “Fear Factor” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” daring its guests to consume it, DelaRosa said. And Doja Cat’s inaccurate description could, in part, add to those long-standing negative associations.

“It just brings up a lot of feelings of that ‘lunchbox moment,’” DelaRosa said, referring to the uncomfortable experience many young Asians have when their peers sneer at their cultural foods in the lunchroom. “Our food is not accessible to the public.” 

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Doja Cat herself doesn’t appear to dislike the dish, DelaRosa said. In an Instagram Live video recorded after the song’s release, she told viewers that the dish was “good” but that it was “not as whimsical as I thought it would be,” adding that she didn’t taste any feathers from the bird. 

But that doesn’t mean her previous inaccurate description of the dish didn’t carry weight, DelaRosa said. He said that with little Filipino representation in Western media, coupled with Doja Cat’s massive reach and fan base, the remarks have the power to skew perceptions around Filipino culture.

DelaRosa said he has already seen some comments expressing negativity and disgust at the dish. 

“There are a few comments that are offensive. … Is she going to moderate that?” he said. “What does accountability mean when there are going to be offensive, negative conversations and negative associations with my culture now because you misrepresented my culture through the name?”

DelaRosa said it’s important to normalize the dish, one that’s eaten both as a casual after-school snack and as a celebratory delicacy at gatherings or important events where people raise their shells high in a toast.

As for Doja Cat, DelaRosa said she should address the criticisms.

“My hope is that you clarify what you did, how it could have caused harm, how it could cause triggering,” he said. “It’s part of the repair that I would hope that she does, as someone who has a lot of responsibility, when using someone else’s culture to amplify her platform.”

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