After Goya CEO Robert Unanue came out in support of US President Trump, the internet has been on fire with harsh criticism and discourse about internalized racism.
Trigger Warning: Racism, Troubling Images
Earlier this week, Goya CEO Robert Unanue announced his support for United States President Donald Trump. The manufacturer of authentic canned Latinx food, such as sofrito, adobo, and sazón, left thousands of Latinx folks across the country disappointed and frustrated. Therefore, many Latinx voices called for a boycott of the company's products. Soon enough, more influential people such as House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and journalist Ana Navarro-Cárdenas joined in on the boycott. In response, Ivanka Trump shared a photo of herself holding up a can of Goya's black beans in what is being referred to as the photo-op equivalent of saying, "I totally have a Black friend, guys!" The criticism has rained down hard on both Unanue as well as daddy's little girl Ivanka.
Here's why the CEO's statement is so problematic. Ed Morales, writing for CNN, points out, "Trump has been enraging US Latinos going back to the dawn of his campaign, when he attacked immigrants from Mexico and Central America as criminals and rapists, as well as his callous indifference to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. In Trump's extreme version of Republicanism, scapegoating Latinos have engendered a climate of uneasiness and at times fear, all in the service of being meat for his xenophobic base of support." For a Latino voice to then come out and say that he is in favor of the man driving the hate against Latinx people would, without a doubt, enrage the community.
Oh look, it’s the sound of me Googling “how to make your own Adobo” https://t.co/YOScAcyAnC— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 10, 2020
Perhaps Unanue and Trump have parallel goals; while the former has been attempting to attract non-Latinx consumers for years now with English language advertising, the latter has been trying to appeal to voters of color. Both have been marginally successful in their pursuits. According to The New York Times, about 26 percent of Latino voters support Trump. Similarly, the Goya brand has been popular among non-Latinx as well. There is no stronger evidence for this than the fact that former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich as well as model Chrissy Teigen (both non-Latinx) decided to join in on the boycott—quite ironic.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
That's where Ivanka Trump's pandering photo op comes in. She posted the tweet with the following caption: "If it’s Goya, it has to be good." While the legal implications of what seems like a very obvious promotion on behalf of a White House staffer are yet to be clarified, most feedback from Latinx communities has been searing. One Twitter user (reportedly a former Republican), wrote in response, "I know some kids in cages along the southern border who’ve not had a proper meal in quite some time. You might consider addressing their hunger, illness, and emotional distress at being imprisoned. But it would require you to have a soul."
Children in cages at the border, no es bueno. https://t.co/Z9zA0vuZvP— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) July 15, 2020
The Trump administration, much like the "melting pot" of America, is interested in pandering to the palatable parts of Latinx culture. They ask, "What can we take and profit off of?" However, they do not wish to get their hands dirty and solve some of the community's most pressing problems. From homelessness to unfair pay, Latinxs' political issues are more often than not overlooked and underplayed. The news of White folks going out and hoarding Goya products is nothing more than performative, a point and scream of, "Look, we got the brown vote!" A boycott may not solve the cultural issue of internalized racism, but it's definitely a place to start.