Strange Bedfellows: the NAACP, the Hispanic Federation and Big Ol’ Sodas
The New York “Soda War” has begun. Wednesday, the first courtroom arguments were presented in a suit presented by a coalition of businesses, advocates, and critics against the impending limit of beverage sizes to 16 ounces. But, all of that was expected. In an industry where beverage sales typically come with a high margin, it makes sense for restaurant owners and beverage makers to oppose the ban. But how did civil rights get into the mix?
The Associated Press (AP) reported that both the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation have joined in the cause of blocking this legislation. They claim that under the soda ban, “minority-owned delis and corner stores will end up at a disadvantage compared with grocery chains.” See, certain stores, such as supermarkets and convenience stores aren’t affected by the ban (since the city cannot regulate them). And alcohol, unsweetened juices, and milk-based drinks aren’t being regulated by this law either. So the NAACP and Hispanic Federation are calling foul. But who’s interests are they really protecting here?
These advocacy groups claim to be defending minority business owners. Yet, controversy ignited when people (quite easily) highlighted the monetary connections between these groups and major beverage companies. Like the $100,000 grant Coca-Cola gave to the NAACP last year. Or, how about former Hispanic Federation President Lillian Rodriguez Lopez’s immediate exodus to a post at Coca-Cola in February of last year? Do these things seem at all suspicious? And never mind that the same law firm that is representing the beverage companies is also representing the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation in this case …. for FREE.
Yeah, this whole issue is quite complicated, and there is no iron-clad proof on either end. Hazel Dukes, the NAACP’s NY Chapter President, claims, “No one buys the NAACP,” so maybe their legacy is intact. Or maybe it’s just another instance of “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours”. Who knows?
So, you be the judge. Whose interests are the NAACP and the Hispanic Federation truly representing: people of color or their own?
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