Like most of my friends and family I have Goya products in my cupboard. Adobo, Sazón with Coriander and Anatto, Sofrito (Tomato, though sometimes I’ll get the Recaito Cilantro, and black and pink beans.)
Along with strong café con leche, 1970s salsa records, and a dark brown fedora someone gave me for my birthday 15 years ago, I signal my ethnic identity with Caribbean cooking. I had never really liked how Goya monopolized the shelves of my grocery store, crowding out other brands that I had imagined were just as authentic and perhaps even cheaper. But Goya was there, it was edible, and it allowed me to continue in the tradition of eating rice and beans, which is an enduring part of how I make sense of the world.Then came yesterday. Goya Chief Executive Robert Unanue stood the world on its head when he commented on the White House lawn that “we are all truly blessed … to have a leader like President Trump.” Unanue was making his remarks at a press event that announced something called the “White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative,” in front of a gathering of a dwindling number of Hispanic Trump supporters.
All at once, Latinos took to social media, organized around the hashtags #BoycottGoya and #Goyaway, announcing they would no longer be consuming Unanue’s products. There have been admonishments from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (of Puerto Rican descent) Julián Castro, (Mexican-American) and former US Representative Luis Gutiérrez (Puerto Rican). Journalist Roberto Lovato tweeted himself pouring a container of Adobo down his toilet bowl.But the debate seems to involve more than just Latinos, since Goya has long been concerned with attracting non-Latino consumers, from Asians to white Americans, using English-language advertising slogans like “Goya, O-Boya.” Even former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich has used the “pass it on” meme on Twitter about the boycott, as well as model Chrissy Teigen. For many non-Latinos, consuming Goya products is a fairly authentic, if superficial way to practice Latinidad.