The NAACP raised more than a few eyebrows this week when they came out against NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s so-called soda ban.
The restrictions would limit the sale of “super-sized” sugary beverages. As we reported earlier this week, Black youth are almost twice as likely as their white peers to consume high calorie, sugary drinks like Pepsi and Coca-Cola. These kinds of drinks have been linked to rising obesity rates, and therefore many would argue that the black community would stand to greatly benefit from such a ban.
But the NAACP disagrees. And their close financial ties to the beverage industry have many calling into question the civil right organization’s commitment to the needs of the community.
But the N.A.A.C.P. has close ties to big soft-drink companies, particularly Coca-Cola, whose longtime Atlanta law firm, King & Spalding, wrote the amicus brief filed by the civil rights group in support of a lawsuit aimed at blocking Mr. Bloomberg’s soda rules, which are set to take effect in March.
Coca-Cola has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to a health education program, Project HELP, developed by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The brief describes that program, but not the financial contributions of the beverage company. The brief was filed jointly with another organization, the Hispanic Federation, whose former president, Lillian Rodríguez López, recently took a job at Coca-Cola.
The NAACP argues that the sugary drink ban would disproportionately hurt small, minority-owned businesses, since big companies like 7-11 are exempt from the restrictions.
They say Bloomberg should focus his efforts on a more “holistic” approach.
“At its worst, the ban arbitrarily discriminates against citizens and small-business owners in African-American and Hispanic communities,” the brief said.
The plan has also been ardently opposed by several members of the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.
The city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, said Wednesday that he was “disappointed” the N.A.A.C.P. had opposed the plan. “African-Americans are suffering disproportionately in this crisis, and I don’t think the N.A.A.C.P. should be siding with the big soda companies,” he said. “They are attacking public health officials who are trying to respond to that crisis.”
Is the NAACP looking out for the community, or their own bottom line?
Do you support a ban on super-sized, calorie-filled drinks?
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