Ivanka Trump, daughter of and advisor to President Trump, decided to drag the Goya Foods controversy onward by posing with a can of Goya black beans in a photograph posted to Twitter Tuesday evening. Looking like a Price Is Right model (or Laura Palmer in the Red Room), Ivanka is shown holding the can of beans and wearing the smile of a hostage, along with the caption, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good. Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno.” While it’s hard to believe that Ivanka has ever purchased a can of Goya beans—let alone any Goya products—in her 38 years of life, her alleged brand loyalty plays second fiddle to the actual goal here: Owning the libs and pretending to give a shit about Latinx people, one can of mysteriously procured beans at a time.
Goya has been under fire since its CEO, Robert Unanue, attended an event at the White House on July 9 and lauded Trump’s leadership.
“We are all truly blessed... to have a leader like President Trump who is a builder,” Unanue said. “We have an incredible builder, and we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president.”
Given Goya’s immense popularity among Latinx people and Trump’s systematic attacks on Latinx Americans, immigrants, and asylum seekers alike, Unanue’s enthusiastic support of the President prompted an immediate backlash. Since his speech, there have been calls to boycott the brand, an uptick in people sharing homemade sofrito and sazon recipes, and—naturally—plenty of TikToks documenting Latinx people mournfully turning their backs on a once-beloved brand.
Goya isn’t Latinx-owned (the Unanue family is Spanish, though Goya was started in Puerto Rico) and isn’t as crucial to the Latinx experience as some of the memes following this fallout—or Ted Cruz—have suggested, as evidenced by the ease in which Latinx people mobilized against the brand. But this is lost on the Trump family, who are using this controversy as an opportunity to support a sycophant and make Goya detractors look silly. (Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle got in on the action too, posing with a Goya malt beverage on their Instagram stories.)
What they’re actually doing, however, is demonstrating that the extent to which their support of Latinxs is limited to props.
Why should the administration show humanity by implementing policies that don’t rip apart Latin American families at the border or threaten the deportation of undocumented 20-somethings trying to go to college, these images suggest, when the Trumps can just pose with some Mexican food instead? There’s even contradiction in their supposed support of Goya; last week, a former Homeland Security secretary alleged that Trump considered selling Puerto Rico after it was ravaged by Hurricane Maria.
And President Trump himself set a kind of precedent during the 2016 presidential primary when he tweeted a photo of himself with a taco bowl in celebration of Cinco De Mayo. “I love Hispanics!” he wrote, despite running a campaign on building a massive border wall between the United States and Mexico, and characterizing Mexicans as rapists and murderers.
Of course, eating a taco bowl doesn’t absolve one of racism or xenophobia—one might say that doing so as performance could, at least in this case, underscore those exact characteristics. Similarly, it’s not as though anyone who chows down on a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco at Taco Bell wants to abolish ICE, either. This literal eating of the other as a show of solidarity is as hollow as it is offensive. No one is buying into these theatrics, outside of the Trumps’ devoted audience of ignorant (mostly white) people.
Still, I’m looking forward to seeing Ivanka Trump chow down on some Popeyes when it’s time to make nice with The Blacks.™