The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida, saying that the state is “openly hostile” toward African Americans and other minorities. In a statement released on Saturday, the civil rights organization said the travel advisory comes on the back of Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis’ attempts “to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools”.
“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,” the travel warning said.
Florida under DeSantis has banned teachings on gender, race, and sexuality, and has further restricted mathematics textbooks over claims that they cover critical race theory. Just four months ago, the state also announced that it will not allow a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies to be offered in its high schools, stating that the course is filled with critical race theory, which looks at systemic racism within America’s legal institutions. The course was the latest addition to the AP program, which assists high school students earn college credit but the governor’s office said the course “is a vehicle for a political agenda” and violates state law.
The NAACP believes that DeSantis’ moves “are in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”
“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,” the NAACP’s president, Derrick Johnson, said in the advisory.
The organization said that after DeSantis rejected the AP African American studies course, it distributed 10,000 books to 25 predominantly Black communities across the state in collaboration with the American Federation of Teachers’s Reading Opens the World program. It said the majority of the books donated were titles banned under the state’s increasingly restrictive laws, adding that it is urging local branches and youth councils to start community libraries to ensure access to representative literature.
The NAACP’s travel warning also comes days after other groups too warned against travel to Florida. CNN reports that the League of United Latin American Citizens recently issued a travel advisory for Florida after the governor signed a new immigration law. LGBTQ+ advocacy group Equality Florida also issued a travel advisory in April due to what it said are laws targeting LGBTQ+ rights.
Protests in recent years show that racism and racial inequality persist in American life. According to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, about half of Black adults (52%) say racism in U.S. laws is the bigger problem for Black people, while 43% cite racism by individuals.
In 2017, the NAACP issued travel warnings for Missouri after the state passed Senate Bill 43, which made it extra hard for employees to prove their race or gender, according to CNN.