For Release: October 29, 1999
Contact: David Almasi at 202/543-4110 x106 or Project21@nationalcen[email protected]
The latest boycott called by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) - this time against Little Caesar's pizza and the other businesses of Detroit Tigers baseball team owner Mike Illitch - highlights the group's growing reliance on publicity stunts over substance. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 are concerned that the NAACP may be rebuilding its reputation on the backs of poor blacks who will be hurt by the economic impact of the boycotts.
NAACP president Kweisi Mfume takes issue with the Tigers because no black candidates were interviewed for an open manager position. While the commissioner of Major League Baseball requires minorities be considered for such positions, actual interviews are not mandated. Nonetheless, Mfume said the hiring of Phil Garner, who is white, is "a slap on the face" of minorities. Mfume called for a boycott of the businesses owned by Illitch rather than an overall boycott of baseball. Coincidentally, Atlanta Braves coach Don Baylor, who is black, is expected to be named manager of the Chicago Cubs, and is also being courted by the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles. Willie Randolph and Chris Chambliss, both black coaches for the New York Yankees, are also considered prime prospects for available managerial positions. All three were previously unavailable for consideration because both teams were in the playoffs and World Series championship.
"Don Baylor is one of an increasing number of black coaches in the Major League," said Project 21 member Michael King. "However, it would be detrimental to those individuals for any team to have a black manager simply because he is black and not because he is the best qualified individual for the position."
Like its boycott of South Carolina for having the Confederate battle flag flown over the state capitol, the NAACP's boycott strategy stands to hurt blacks more than help them. In South Carolina, boycott supporters are turning their backs on black businesses and the companies, restaurants and other businesses that employ black South Carolina residents. In Detroit, Illitch already awarded over $60 million in construction contracts to minority developers to build the Tigers' new Comerica Park stadium. In addition, his Little Caesar's pizza is a big employer in urban areas across America. Financial pain inflicted on Illitch's businesses and those in South Carolina could result in an unintentional but direct negative backlash against the black community.
"How often do these baseless boycotts work anyway? When was the last time a business was so effected by an NAACP boycott that it made an impact?" added Project 21 member Tara Wall. "This effort by Mfume is more smoke and mirrors, another attempt to inflame minorities and work them up into a tizzy before we even know whether any true discrimination exists."
Project 21 has been a leading voice of the African-American community
since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110
x106 or [email protected],
or visit Project 21's website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.