I Have This Can of Goya Black Beans in My Cabinet
I hate it. This can of black beans. It stares at me as I take out the peanut butter to make lunches. And again as I grab the honey for my tea. And then a third time as I browse the cabinets for a snack.
I discovered it a few days ago and it’s been haunting me ever since.
After the CEO of Goya made statements in support of Donald Trump, a movement to boycott the brand started. In response to the boycott, Donald and Ivanka Trump both posted pictures of themselves essentially endorsing and promoting the brand, in political office. (Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.)
In support of the Latinx community and in response to Trump’s blatant abuse of office, I, too, have decided to boycott Goya products.
I typically know what’s in my cabinets but I had forgotten about this one can of black beans, way in the back. We don’t use black beans often; my husband prefers kidney and I am partial to cannellini. But on occasion, there are recipes that call for black beans and so I buy them and let them make their way to the very back corner of the cabinet, waiting months to be used.
So, here, this newly discovered can of black beans—this Goya product—sits in my cabinet.
I don’t want to eat it. I’m angry at the CEO for supporting Donald Trump and I’m angry at the president for his continued outrageous behavior. If I did eat them, they’d just taste like bitterness and betrayal anyway. I can’t. I won’t.
But what do I do? Do I throw them away?
I mean… It’s a perfectly good can of black beans. It could feed someone who doesn’t have food. I could donate these beans to the less fortunate so I’m not wasting perfectly good food…
But that idea is unsettling to me.
Is it privilege? I can choose to not eat these beans, in protest. I can take a stand because I have the financial ability to do so. Is it right of me to give this can of Goya black beans to someone less fortunate—this can I wouldn’t use myself because I’ve grown up with the equity of my whiteness and the privilege of my middle-classness—to someone who doesn’t have the freedom to protest?
I am not in this position to reject these beans because I worked hard and pulled my bootstraps up—although I do realize that’s the official line of the American Dream. I am in this position because I’m white and middle class. Because the platform I was born into has allowed me to access education, resources, easily get jobs, exist basically unbothered by the outside world for any reason. I haven’t had a too terribly difficult time coming across opportunities—for either food or jobs or money.
I have the ability to protest through refusing brands. But what do I do with it? What do I do with this privilege and this equity?
I honestly don’t know.
I have this can of Goya black beans and it mocks me. It reminds me of the inequalities and inequities that exist, daily.
And I have this choice to make. I have privilege and equity, so I have this choice and I need to be careful about how I use it.
What do I do with this can of black beans? Do I throw it away? Do I eat it? Do I donate it?
Or… should I just keep it? And let it be the reminder that it is.
Maybe I need to be haunted by these thoughts, daily, over and over again, every time I open my cabinet.
Maybe this can of perfectly good beans is more than just beans. Perhaps it’s the embodiment of my confusion, shame, and indecision—things I should neither throw away nor donate, especially now.
So, I will keep this can of Goya black beans, and continue to grapple with my realizations, until I figure out what choice I can make that best serves equality.