Home The Op-Eds Why Does The NAACP Want You To Believe Sodapop Is A Civil Right’s Issue?

Why Does The NAACP Want You To Believe Sodapop Is A Civil Right’s Issue?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Well, speaking of people being bought and sold

Credit: Gawker

Credit: Gawker

…apparently, this is an actual thing:

NEW YORK (AP) — The city defended its groundbreaking size limit on sugary drinks Wednesday as an imperfect but meaningful rein on obesity, while critics said it would hurt small and minority-owned businesses while doing little to help health.

The first courtroom arguments in the closely watched case ended without an immediate ruling. Opponents said they planned to ask a judge to delay enforcement during the suit, which has broached questions of racial fairness alongside arguments about government authority and burdens to business.

The NAACP’s New York state branch and a network of Hispanic groups have joined a legal effort to block the first-of-its-kind restriction, igniting questions Wednesday about the groups’ ties to the beverage industry.

Beverage makers, restaurateurs, minority advocates and other critics told a judge the upcoming 16-ounce limit was a finger-wagging incursion on consumer choice, rife with inconsistencies that would cost a hot dog vendor business while still allowing New Yorkers to buy belly-buster sodas at the chain convenience store next to him.

Let me run that back.

The NAACP’s New York state branch and a network of Hispanic groups have joined a legal effort to block the first-of-its-kind restriction…


The NAACP’s NY state – not just New York City, but the state branch, eh?

The article goes on:

The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation, an organization of 100 Northeastern groups, say their concern is that minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared with grocery chains.

And, to be fair, Hazel Dukes, president of the state’s chapter of the NAACP, said the following:

Hazel Dukes, the NAACP’s New York president, bristled at the idea that the nearly 104-year-old group was swayed by the soda industry’s support.

“No one buys the NAACP,” she said in a telephone interview, noting that foundations also have contributed to the organization’s obesity-fighting initiatives.

Soda makers’ money “is not the issue here,” she said. “The issue is fairness.”

But…just how much money are we talking about, here?

Luckily, someone at the AP thought to themselves, “Self, Erika’s really gonna wonder how much money has exchanged hands between these organizations and corporations, so I should be sure to provide that information.”

So, they did:

– Coca-Cola announced last month it was giving a $100,000 grant to the national NAACP to support a healthy-lifestyles program

– PepsiCo gave the group more than $10,000 in 2010, according to the soda maker’s website.

– Former Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez left for a job at Coca-Cola in February.

– The groups were represented Wednesday by a firm that also has represented Coca-Cola. The firm, King & Spalding, is representing the advocacy groups for free, lawyer Ann M. Cook said.

Well, damn. Gawker – gotta love Gawker – found even more money:

The Hispanic Federation’s annual gala is April 11, at the Waldorf-Astoria. There, they will present their “Corporate Leadership Award” to The Coca-Cola Company, which is among their funders. The NAACP has recently received a $100,000 donation from the Coca-Cola foundation, along with another $35K to the NAACP New York State Conference. They recently gave an image award to PepsiCo (which will doubtless be repaid with donations). It’s quite easy for large nonprofits such as these to ensure a robust roster of future corporate funding: all they have to do is scratch these companies’ backs when called upon. This is what happens with civil rights organizations become co-opted by corporate interests [.] [source]

I am, above all else, overwhelmed with disgust.

I’ve written, several times, about why I think the sodapop legislation is misguided. I’ve also written endlessly about all the other things that need to be fixed within our broken system. All the other components of nutrition and exercise, fitness and body image, family and finances that affect the choices we make in regards to the food we eat.

That being said, I went digging for the NAACP’s policies – nationally and state-wise – on food deserts, availability and access as being civil rights issues. I went looking for information regarding any initiatives regarding heart health – I mean, if you’re hurting for money, why not partner up with the American Heart Association? – or diabetes prevention and care – the American Diabetes Association? – or hell, why not fitness and healthy living in general? Think of the number of magazines, fitness brands and fitness personalities that would love to be a part of a 105-year-old organization’s fitness initiatives? Think of the marketing opportunities?

I guess I just… I would expect the NAACP to stay out of this instead of lending its long-standing credibility to such a petty situation… on behalf of the people I’m 95% certain are responsible for at least 55% of the health problems that plague the community they’ve tasked themselves with representing. I would expect the NAACP to be loud and vocal about the fact that sodapop is infinitely more available, in some of these neighborhoods, than fresh, unwilted, un-styrofoamed vegetables. I would expect the NAACP to come out, even, and say loudly – “We are vehemently opposed to any action, on behalf of NYC government, to do anything involving food in New York without including a multi-pronged approach to increasing access and affordability for even the poorest of New Yorkers.”

But, no. They’re not doing that. I waited, in the hope that I would’ve seen them say something. Alas, I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t seen anything.

All of this is left me to conclude, that the answer to my original question – why does the NAACP throw its heft behind this, instead of clamoring to be front and center in raising money to create community gardens, hosting informative discussions on making healthy living more reachable for the poor, having free workouts in local parks and playgrounds, and using its political clout to encourage government policy to support new, clean supermarkets?

The answer… is because they’re just doing what they’re paid to do. Civil rights my ass.

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Kim January 31, 2013 - 3:35 PM

This is beyond disgusting…but it’s a shame that I’m not shocked. I think we just have to accept that many organizations are really just working for their pocketbooks, not the people they claim to represent. I appreciate you posting this to bring to light what they are doing.

ab January 31, 2013 - 3:41 PM

Ever since I’ve known the NAACP, coca cola has been a huge sponsor. There’s no way this is not about money.
Time for a revolution..

Allison January 31, 2013 - 8:08 PM

For as long I’ve lived in NY, I’ve never seen hot dog vendors or deli’s sell giant cups of soda like the ones being banned. And I’ve never seen people walk out with them either. You either get a can of soda or the 12 oz bottle. Any bigger and you would have to take your butt to the supermarket.

isajck January 31, 2013 - 11:32 PM

They always say follow the money…. I have lost so much respect for the NAACP over the years, I did not think it could go any lower, consider me surprised.

kami February 1, 2013 - 9:46 AM

I do not understand why these people cannot have healthy sponsors like Amy’s Organic or The National Diabetes Association. Another thing is why are they supporting foods or pushing foods that are known to increase health risk. This is disgusting. McDonalds is disgusting for pushing there i” i care about the community agenda” by giving scholarships but offering unhealthy deadly foods to the community and targeting low income minorities. The NAACP needs to push for healthier foods, community gardens, local food coops and free yoga and work out program in these communities. How about telling the local bodegas to offer healthier foods in the stores. Smh

christine February 1, 2013 - 1:04 PM

This makes me sad..this is not what the civil rights movement was about! Soda..are you serious NAACP..shame on you!!!

Grace February 18, 2013 - 1:35 PM

As I began reading this, I was sad. Then I got angry. Not one initiatve to promote heath, but they’re fighting in favor of drinks that have absolutely no nutritional value? Ridiculous.

SweetiePuddinPie March 2, 2013 - 9:35 AM

The NAACP is an embarrassment to its legacy; and Jealous is a sellout.

'Mucette March 2, 2013 - 9:35 AM

What has the NAACP ever done to help the black community? It’s always been about money and publicity and talking about doing things. Yet no real action has taken place for our community. They’ve sent some black students to college. But as a whole the NAACP has failed our community. That’s just my opinion *shrugs*.

We need to reach our children how to eat right. How to love right. How to live right. We need to teach them our history. We need to educate them about finances. We need to show them that they are the equalizer. They can’t wait for the government or some organization to make things better. It won’t happen.

Erika Nicole Kendall March 4, 2013 - 9:44 AM

You should never be waiting for someone else to make things better, mama. That’s always your responsibility. Organizations aren’t supposed to do it; they’re more supposed to do what they can to prevent/protest de facto and de jure barriers…. not change our lives FOR us.

virgolady March 17, 2013 - 11:23 AM

Are you riding the “yellow bus” on this one? This is no more different than the super sizing of the fast food that American eats on a daily basis! It’s all about the dolla bill, so use your heads….DON’T BUY ANY!!! DUH.. Smart people don’t drink the poison anyway!

Erika Nicole Kendall March 17, 2013 - 11:26 AM

The irony of you screwing up your own insult – I’m pretty sure you meant the “short bus” on this one, and not the “yellow bus,” one which I’m sure we ALL rode at some point in our lives – making YOU look much more like the really hateful comment you tried to make.

Whew. LOL

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