By Lani Tunzi
No sooner did Taco Bell in Eagle Rock reopen in June, ending years of unsatiated late-night cravings and an eyesore fenced off lot, then support for the once beloved food chain started to dwindle – undeservingly so.
Here’s what happened: A recent thread circulating on social media platforms accused Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut and other fast food companies of contributing to President Trump’s reelection campaign. Upon reading this incriminating information, many vowed to no longer patronize the companies. I almost did the same – until taking a moment to source the validity of the information being presented.
As it turns out, neither Taco Bell nor other major fast food corporations have contributed to Trump’s reelection, as was made clear by widespread fact checking in the media, including here in Business Insider and here at OpenSecrets.org, which tracks campaign donations. A statement by Taco Bell CEO Mark King – in which he also voiced support for racial justice – also clearly stated that Taco Bell corporation does not donate to presidential political campaigns.
It’s easy to see how the public became confused about Taco Bell. For example, independent fast-food franchise owners can decide on their own to make political donations. In May, it was big news that Joseph Bodenstedt, the franchisee owner of many Taco Bell, Wendy’s and Pizza Hut locations, had given a ton of money to the Trump campaign. This fact got misconstrued in posts that pilloried all Taco Bells. But Bodenstedt’s donations do not reflect the actions and values of the entire corporation.
Many of my peers and I have been adamant about using our social platforms to cultivate awareness and activism, flooding our feeds with information on past and present injustices and endless petitions. To see my generation up in arms on current events is empowering and makes me proud and hopeful that needed change will occur within our lifetime. However, there’s no limit to the false information being spread, and performative activism can be of little effect if every individual is not continually questioning and fact-checking the information being presented to them.
The closer we get to the election in November, the more important it is to stay diligent, stay informed and avoid getting trapped in an echo chamber of misleading or distracting information. And finally, enjoy some Taco Bell in Eagle Rock while you’re at it — guilt free!
Lani Tunzi, Class of 2020 at Eagle Rock High, graduated in June.
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