Did the NAACP take Coca-Cola money to call sugar taxes racist?

If these groups took money to absurdly call soda tax proposals racist, what else will they call racist in exchange for funds?

Big Sugar has been waging a war on Americans for decades, and it’s a war the federal government has often been complicit in.

From hidden taxpayer subsidies, to protectionist programs that inflate the price of sugar, to skewed medical research from governmental agencies, to harmful nutritional recommendations that misled the American people on the harmful impacts of this addictive substance—the US government is partially responsible for the growing obesity epidemic (and all its collateral health conditions).

However, during the Obama administration, it seemed some in the political sphere were turning against the sugar lobby. In 2009, the proposal for a federal excise tax on sugary drinks began to make headway and it prompted the American Beverage Association, Pepsi, and Coca-Cola to spend almost $40 million to defeat it.

There’s nothing all that surprising about that. What’s interesting is how they spent that money.

According to a recent Twitter thread, Coca-Cola went to an old ally—the NAACP—for assistance, as well as other nonprofits whose central missions revolve around civil rights for minority communities.

In the same Twitter thread, the poster claims he was a former consultant for Coke and worked on these issues. He also says that donations made to these groups were transactional and came with specific instructions: paint our opponents as racists.

We weren’t in the private conversations to back this statement up, but other reports from the time, as well as the messaging campaign that flowed from many of these groups seem to back him up.

The NAACP and the Hispanic Federation actually filed an amicus brief on behalf of soda companies in New York in which they argued that a soda tax is discriminatory towards residents and small business owners in black and Hispanic communities.

Now, I want to be clear about a few things: Sugar taxes are a garbage idea. People should be free to eat and drink what they choose, even if it is bad for them, and taxing or regulating such vices does hurt small business owners and the poor. These kinds of policies are paternalistic, often fail to actually make a significant difference in health outcomes, and slow down the economy—which hurts everyone. So, these groups weren’t one bit wrong to oppose such economic illiteracy.

However, it is interesting that they took the angle of calling the taxes racist or discriminatory.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, black women have the highest rates of obesity in the country. And people who are obese are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

So, while a sugar tax is a moronic way to approach these issues, proper nutritional education amongst these communities is essential and could be life-saving. And it does prompt the question, if these groups took money to call these proposals racist, what else will they call racist in exchange for funds?

All in all, these kinds of dealings and relationships are why so many in the country have become desensitized to racial injustice—particularly when it comes to discussions of systemic racism.

I would argue that the government’s collusion with Big Sugar is one example of systemic racism. They’ve been working to pull the wool over people’s eyes on the reality of this product for decades, and the results of that have been disastrous in the black community.

But when civil rights groups that are supposed to represent these populations instead shill for big government or for the sugar lobby, it makes it seem like they’re really just working for their bottom lines instead of against the main arbitrator of injustice: the government.

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Coxhttp://based-politics.com
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.