The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has a history of struggle and advocacy. For those who value that 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 joined a suit to overturn the law that, starting next month, will ban the sale of high-sugar drinks in containers 16 ounces or larger by restaurants and other eateries.
The law allows convenience stores and large supermarkets to continue selling large-quantity, high-calorie soft drinks. The NAACP argues that the law hurts black and Hispanic-owned bodegas and corner stores with fewer resources and smaller profit margins. It says the money it has gotten over the years from the soft-drink industry has nothing to do with its defense of a product that is expanding America’s waistline.
Two-thirds of black New Yorkers are obese. Instead of encouraging New York City to include larger stores and supermarkets under the law, the NAACP seeks to jettison the new restriction despite ample 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 calling. The ability of the soda industry to sell unhealthy products to communities, minority and otherwise, is not a civil right.