The NAACP has issued a travel advisory to Black Americans, warning them of the “hostile” climate seemingly curated by Governor Ron DeSantis’ crackdown on cultural history across the state.
The advisory was first proposed to the Board of Directors by the NAACP‘s Florida State Conference. However, it was widely supported by the organization as a whole. It states, “Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the state of Florida devalues and marginalizes the contributions of and the challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”
Last week, the Republican politician signed legislation to defund diversity, equity, and inclusion departments at public universities. “DEI is better viewed as standing for discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination,” said DeSantis in a press conference on May 15. His exercise of authority has been met with widespread pushback from those arguing that he is stifling education and erasing Black history from the books, literally.
“Once again, hate-inspired state leaders have chosen to put politics over people. Governor Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida have engaged in a blatant war against principles of diversity and inclusion and rejected our shared identities to appeal to a dangerous, extremist minority,” said Leon Russell, chair of the NAACP Board of Directors, in a released statement on Saturday (May 20).
DeSantis and the state have come under scrutiny since he vocalized his opposition to academic discussions about racism and American history. Last year, he signed the Individual Freedom Act, also known as the Stop Woke Act, into law. It prohibits workplaces and schools from making people “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.” The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the act from being enforced after two separate lawsuits were filed — one by a University of South Florida student and professor and another by a Florida A&M law professor. Florida appealed the ruling, but in March, it was again denied a request to enforce the bill after the appeals court upheld the first ruling.
“Let me be clear — failing to teach an accurate representation of the horrors and inequalities that Black Americans have faced and continue to face is a disservice to students and a dereliction of duty to all,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
He continued, “Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon. He should know that democracy will prevail because its defenders are prepared to stand up and fight. We’re not backing down, and we encourage our allies to join us in the battle for the soul of our nation.”
The NAACP’s full travel advisory can be viewed below.
“Under the leadership of Governor Desantis, the state of Florida has become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”
— NAACP President and CEO @DerrickNAACP
Take a stand with us. https://t.co/zsgLbNYL8t
— NAACP (@NAACP) May 20, 2023
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