Boycott hurts the wrong people

The NAACP announced earlier this week it would not hold its national convention in North Carolina this year, as a protest against HB2 and voter suppression laws in the state.

The organization went further, calling for a national boycott of the state by not only the NAACP, but other agencies that do business or might do business within the state’s borders.

As much as we have railed against HB2 (for far more relevant reasons that the “bathroom” part of the so-called “bathroom bill”), and as much as we agree that North Carolina has imposed numerous voter suppression laws in recent years, a boycott is absolutely the wrong avenue to take.

The people most responsible for HB2 and the voter suppression laws are the leadership of the GOP in the state’s General Assembly, and the GOP members who follow them in lock-step, worshiping the party line rather than serving the people of the state.

Second behind them are the big-money donors who helped put these folks in office, the ones most benefiting from some of the backwards laws that clearly favor the rich while pounding the poor. Under the Pat McCrory administration, numerous national media outlets did stories on these laws and this state, making North Carolina seem like a bit of a joke in modern-day America.

Problem was, those media outlets seemed to pin most of that work on McCrory, without realizing McCrory was simply a figurehead, largely ignored by his own party. It’s the legislative leadership the NAACP should be targeting.

Unfortunately, a boycott only hurts the people who can least afford it. The folks working the dining room, the kitchen, the hotels where the NAACP would have held its convention will be the ones who are hurt, with reduced working hours. The ownership and management of the businesses will still take home their pay, their bonuses, and their profit.

The leadership of the General Assembly will still keep their fat cat positions of power, controlling the state and ensuring their close friends are still taken care of.

So what’s the answer?

There is no easy one. But we would suggest the state NAACP, led by Rev. William Barber, continue the Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. While they’ve worn out the novelty factor that gained so much national attention when the movement began, they still are a stark reminder of how oppressive this state had become.

We would also suggest groups working for true equality in the state keep the pressure on with the lawsuits against the state — most of which seem to be successful, thus far.

And find a way to play the politician games with Political Action Committees and other groups that can raise funds for races. Have North Carolina the target of some big-money efforts, groups and individuals pouring the funding into key General Assembly districts, where the Democratic party might be able to weaken the GOP’s hold on the state government.

None of those efforts are easy. They take time and resources. But they take aim squarely at those most responsible for the onerous laws passed by the GOP, rather than hurting those in the middle and bottom of the economic classes, as boycotts do.

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