The NAACP accuses BP of disproportionately assigning its most hazardous, low-paying cleanup jobs to minorities and is requesting an urgent meeting with Tony Hayward to address the problem.
In a letter to Hayward dated July 8, Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, outlined a number of concerns related to BP's treatment of minorities, including allegations that "contractors of color are not receiving equal consideration for opportunities to participate in mitigation efforts" and that minority workers are not being provided with appropriate protective gear.
Jackie Patterson, director of climate and justice for the NAACP, said the allegations were not based on "intense research" but, rather, anecdotal observations.
"The people who are out there are saying they're always seeing people of color lifting the boom," she said. "They're seeing more people of color on the cleanup crews instead of in the managerial positions. And, in terms of beach cleanup, none of them are given standardized protective masks or clothes."
Jealous writes in the letter that he visited the Gulf Coast, met with representatives from multiple minority communities there and personally witnessed the ongoing discrimination.
"I emerged from that visit dismayed and outraged by what I heard and saw," he wrote. "We understand and appreciate that BP has been engaged in numerous efforts to address the oil spill and its impact on communities -- including the concerns that were shared with me. But we urge BP to take further steps."
The letter then outlines some of NAACP's recommendations, including that BP establish "monitoring mechanisms" to ensure that minorities are not being relegated to the most strenuous, menial positions and see that minorities are given a fair amount of cleanup contracts.
BP has not yet responded for comment.