NAACP Officers. front row, left to right: Texanita Bluitt, Cora Ward and Sara Grant; Back row: Steven Bates, Rhonda Harris, Willie Robinson, La Sonda Robinson, and Otheree Christian. Photo by Joe L. Fisher, Black American Political Association of California (BAPAC).
The local branch of the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) announced this week it opposes the proposed tax on businesses selling sugar-sweetened beverages in Richmond because it would hit people of color hardest without doing anything significant to reduce sugar consumption.
“It will impose an economic hardship on small local businesses within the city limits, which will not necessarily have a meaningful impact on reducing the consumption of sugar products in the African-American community of Richmond,” the organization said in a written statement. “Therefore, we…oppose the soda tax ballot measure to be voted on by the residents of Richmond.”
If passed, the tax would lead to price increases, not just on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages, according to the Richmond NAACP.
City estimates of the revenue to be raised by the tax have ranged from $3 million to $8 million annually. The measure would create a one-cent per ounce tax on soda and other sugary fruit drinks with less than 10 percent juice.
Though the proposal says all revenue collected from the tax to fund childhood obesity programs, it does not specify how that should be done and to what programs the money should go.
According to the NAACP chapter, the money raised by the city would flow into the general fund where it could be used for any legitimate municipal purposes—not necessarily for anti-obesity or other public health, nutrition or recreation programs and services the tax backers promise.
The Richmond NAACP branch was chartered in 1944 and is dedicated to fighting injustice in politics, education, social services and the local economy.