Unworthy cause: There's no civil right to big, sugar-heavy sodas
Share with others:
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a proud history of struggle and advocacy. Yet, for those who appreciate the civil rights organization's history, the decision by its New York State chapter to join a lawsuit against New York City's proposed large-soda restrictions is a source of dismay.
At the behest of the American Beverage Association, the NAACP has joined the Association of Theater Owners of New York State, the Latino Federation and the New York Korean-American Grocers Association in a suit to overturn the law that, beginning March 12, will ban the sale of high-sugar drinks in containers 16 ounces or larger by restaurants and other eateries.
With 70 percent of black New Yorkers obese or overweight, according to a 2011 survey, the place of sugary soft drinks in the African-American diet should be a civil rights issue, but not in the way the NAACP sees it. Citing the loophole that allows convenience stores and large supermarkets to continue selling large-quantity, high-calorie sodas, the NAACP and its allies argue that the law disproportionately hurts black- and Hispanic-owned bodegas and corner stores with fewer resources and smaller profit margins.
The civil rights organization also resents the insinuation that the money it has received over the years from the soft-drink industry has anything to do with its defense of a product that is expanding America's waistline.
Instead of encouraging New York City to include larger stores and supermarkets under the law, the NAACP seeks to jettison the new restriction despite evidence that the health of blacks and Hispanics has already been sacrificed on the altar of profit.
Attempting to overturn a rule on the size of sugar-laden drinks is a digression from the NAACP's real calling. The right of the soda industry to lay waste to communities, minority and otherwise, with unhealthy products is no civil right at all.
First Published February 3, 2013 12:00 am