NAACP travel advisory says Florida is ‘openly hostile’ to black people

Over the past year, conservative policies affecting education, immigration, and LGBTQ+ rights in Florida have led some advocacy groups and organizations to recommend visitors reconsider travel to the state.

On Saturday, the NAACP became the latest to issue a travel advisory to the Sunshine State, warning that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase black history and restrict diversity, equity and ‘Inclusion in Florida Schools’ has turned the state into an “openly hostile” place for people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

“Before traveling to Florida, please understand that the State of Florida devalues ​​and marginalizes the contributions and challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color,” the NAACP advisory reads.

A DeSantis spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Responding to the NAACP’s warning on Saturday, the governor’s press secretary, Jeremy Redfern, tweeted a GIF of DeSantis saying, “It’s a stunt. If you want to waste your time on a stunt, that’s fine. But I’m not wasting my time on your stunts. Okay?”

The NAACP advisory comes four months after Florida rejected the College Board’s new advanced placement course in African American studies – part of DeSantis’ long war against what he calls ‘woke ideology’ infiltrating schools. Since 2021, DeSantis has called for restrictions on how black history is taught. Last year, he signed a law banning critical race theory from public schools. (Critical Race Theory is an academic framework focused on the idea that racial inequality is systematically embedded in American society, legal systems, and institutions.)

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson touted these policies as an act of erasure.

“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,” Johnson said in a press release.

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These painful chapters in Florida history are what historian Marvin Dunn has dedicated his life to documenting and sharing. Since January, the 82-year-old Florida International University professor emeritus has taken a defiant stance against DeSantis with his “Teach the Truth” tours, through which he takes high school students to sites of racial violence in Florida.

“If people don’t know what mistakes happened in the past, there’s a good chance they’ll happen again in the future,” Dunn said. “And that’s why we need to know these things: to prevent them from coming back to us again.”

Dunn recalls the Jim Crow era, when he and his mother walked, hands clasped anxiously, to the back of the bus or remained silent as white people passed them in queues. And while these openly discriminatory policies are a holdover from the past, Florida’s new laws and rhetoric under DeSantis have left Dunn feeling “like I’m not welcome in my own home state,” a- he declared.

“It’s not in the sense of a physical threat,” Dunn said. “It’s in the sense that I’m not appreciated because my story, and therefore my personality, doesn’t matter.”

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The NAACP travel advisory was welcomed by Dunn, who said he hoped it would discourage visitors and lead to a measurable economic impact, as tourism is one of Florida’s biggest sources of revenue. . Last year, the state had a record year for tourism, with an estimated 137.6 million visitors. In 2021, visitors contributed $101.9 billion to Florida’s economy and supported more than 1.7 million jobs, according to Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing organization.

Still, other black residents, like Luther “Luke” Campbell, a Miami-based rapper and community activist, criticized the advisory as “too little, too late.”

“A review is really low,” Campbell said. “I mean, don’t soften the blow. If you really want to do something, go ahead and say it’s a complete boycott. It would be more effective than a notice because you have to put real pressure on these people.

Although Campbell acknowledged that a boycott could hurt small businesses and small businesses, he said it was the only way to bring about change. “Yes, it will hurt us all,” he said, “but we all need to feel that pain.”

“We need people to call their state legislators and say, ‘You’re affecting my bottom line,'” Campbell added. “There must be calls from people who vote for them and invest money in their campaigns. If these (voters) feel this pressure, they won’t continue to think it’s really cute for these politicians to pass bills attacking African Americans.

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It remains unclear what effects Florida’s new policies — and the notices they have prompted — will have on the state’s economy. But in recent months, the DeSantis-backed Parental Rights in Education Act, dubbed the “don’t say gay” bill by critics, has sparked a bitter battle with Disney, a major player in the economy of Florida.

This month, DeSantis signed into law a sweeping immigration bill requiring some employers to verify the citizenship of their workers, requiring health care providers to ask about their patients’ immigration status, and establishing tougher penalties for transporting undocumented people. That prompted the League of United Latin American Citizens to issue a travel advisory on Wednesday, warning Latino visitors to exercise caution if they encounter law enforcement.

“We have no doubt that if Abuelita or Tia are with us and we are profiled, DeSantis enforcement regulations will treat us like criminals, transporting a dangerous person who only wanted to visit family or enjoy Disneyworld” , said the president of LULAC, Domingo Garcia. Press release.

Despite national attention on Florida, Dunn said, “the new problematic is just a detour from what Florida is really about. We also have very good people here.

“It’s like when someone criticizes your mom: you know she’s not perfect, but don’t come and hit my mom. I will hit her myself.


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