Demand Coca-Cola, Big Food defund voter suppression, and get out of politics
361 voter suppression bills have been introduced in 47 states this year. Prominent in this new era of Jim Crow legislation is Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia GOP’s spiteful attempt to keep people of color from the polls. Their efforts have drawn the ire of a nation and even condemnation from the very corporations, whose financial support helped install these politicians in office in the first place.
After dedicated grassroots pressure, Coca-Cola headquartered in Georgia finally stated its opposition to Georgia’s new “Jim Crow 2.0” law. A gesture, but a hollow one because the global soda giant continues to underwrite the legislators, lobbyists, and trade groups that are proliferating this attack on our voting rights and our very democracy the way it has for a very long time.
In just the last few years, Corporate America gave more than $50 million to the legislators backing voting restrictions. On top of that, the industry groups and associations, with members like Coca-Cola, spent an additional $36 million to these same lawmakers. And that’s just the money that can be traced under our current, inadequate campaign finance and disclosure laws.
So you’d be right to doubt Coca-Cola’s sincerity…or that of other transnational food and beverage corporations like PepsiCo for that matter. They can do all the grandstanding they like for voting rights, for civil rights, for racial justice…but until they stop underwriting voter suppression and corrupting our democracy with their giving and influence…it’s just face-saving. And this is to speak nothing of these corporations’ impact on the health and well-being of Black and Brown communities–during a pandemic no less–that are disproportionately targeted with junk food marketing.
Georgia’s voting rights law–and those proposed across the U.S.–has cast a spotlight on how corporations are complicit in and a driving force behind disenfranchising communities of color. And it has done so in the lead-up to Coca-Cola’s annual meeting on April 20, 2021, in Atlanta.
It is critical in the lead-up to, during, and the weeks following this gathering that Coca-Cola and other global food corporations hear from you, from us, from voters across the country.
- Gelles, David. “Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law.” The New York Times, April 5, 2021.
- Ward, Jason Morgan. “Georgia’s Voter Law Is Called ‘Jim Crow 2.0’ for a Reason.” The New York Times, March 31, 2021.
- Berman, Ari. “361 Voter Suppression Bills Have Already Been Introduced This Year.” Mother Jones, April 1, 2021.
- Associated Press. “Corporations gave over $50 million to backers of voting restrictions” PBS, April 5, 2021.