It’s hypocritical to consume Asian or Asian-American cultural products and then refuse to defend Asian communities in the U.S. – or worse, exhibit open hostility against them. At the same time, we shouldn’t predicate supporting immigrant communities on enjoying their food, especially since the reason why so many Asian immigrants work in restaurants is itself a product of American racism.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share an island in the Caribbean, and there are many racial, ethnic, and cultural similarities between the two nations. Though most Dominicans in the DR identify as mixed-race, the overwhelming majority of Dominicans, like Haitians, are Black by American racial standards (Black Excellence). About half of the population of the gentrifying neighborhood of Washington Heights, Manhattan, where In the Heights is set, is Dominican (U.S. Census Bureau). Washington Heights comprises one of the largest immigrant communities from the Dominican Republic within the U.S. (Furman Center). Unfortunately, In the Heights wildly misrepresents the Dominicans living in this culturally significant neighborhood, continuing a trend where Afro-Latinos are ignored on screen.
The fun of this segment is based on disgust: we see our famous celebrities shriek, gag, and embarrass themselves confronted with revolting foods. Some of the items featured were clearly specially created to evoke just such revulsion: hot dog juice, hot sauce and olive jello, the aforementioned ant pickle.