NAACP advises Black travelers to avoid Florida because of open hostility toward people of color. Additionally, based on the state’s current political climate, civil rights activists say LGBTQ+ and Hispanic folks should also avoid traveling to the Sunshine State. These warnings were issued because of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s continued aggressive attacks against these communities. His legislative policies ignore marginalized peoples’ rights and, as a result, their safety.
DeSantis has outlawed teaching Black History and defunded diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs in the state’s classrooms. He told reporters in May, “[DEI] has basically been used as a veneer to impose an ideological agenda, and that is wrong.” Furthermore, WPTV reports, “The governor said that DEI is better viewed as standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion, and indoctrination,’ which he stated has no place in public institutions.”
In his latest assault on Democracy, on May 15, 2023, the Republican governor signed SB 266 into law. This law defunds DEI programs at publically-funded colleges in Florida. Unfortunately, he will not get any pushback from the college board since he recently installed fellow conservatives as members.
Florida’s governor and other conservatives argue that critical race theory (CRT) and DEI programs are racially divisive and discriminatory. Republicans nationwide claim this so-called woke ideology is wrong. They categorically deny systemic racism exists even though their attitudes, policies, and laws prove otherwise.
Florida Governor Upsets Activists
The NAACP’s travel advisory is similar to warnings against traveling to Florida made by LGBTQ+ and Hispanic advocacy groups.
DeSantis signed another bill two days after defunding DEI programs. SB 1438 further restricts gender-affirming care for minors, drag shows, bathroom usage, and alternative pronoun usage in school.
The bill also codifies a state Board of Education’s decision to block teaching anything about sexual orientation and gender identity in grades K-12.
According to CNN, “DeSantis has just signed into law the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills in one legislative session in the state’s history,” said Joe Saunders, senior political director of Equality Florida. “This is an all-out attack on freedom.”
Among the flurry of bills signed into law was a new immigration law that will take effect in July. As a result, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued a travel warning while calling the new law “hostile and dangerous.” Under this law, businesses with over 25 employees must check their immigration status using E-Verify, a federal database. Businesses not complying face $1,000 daily fines until they prove their employees are legal.
Furthermore, the law invalidates out-of-state identification cards and driver’s licenses that were issued to immigrants. Moreover, the law prevents Florida-based agencies from issuing new cards. Worse, it penalizes anyone who transports undocumented individuals living in the United States with fines and possible imprisonment.
EDITOR’S NOTE: These new laws aimed at marginalized people exemplify the rhetoric the nation will hear from 2024 Presidential Candidate Ronald Dion DeSantis. He officially announced he would launch his bid for the White House while I wrote this update on Florida’s restrictive and inhumane laws. As an American, I must add that there is alarm-inducing fear and hatred in the United States. While I may or may not agree with the changes happening in this country, I believe humanity must prevail.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
CNN: ‘Beware, your life is not valued’: NAACP travel advisory warns Florida is ‘openly hostile toward African Americans;’ by Holly Yan, Melissa Alonso, and Dianne Gallagher
WPTV5 NBC News: Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill defunding diversity, equity, inclusion programs in Florida; by Scott Sutton
The Pink News: Civil rights group NAACP warns Florida is ‘openly hostile’ to Black and LGBTQ+ visitors; by Jake McKee
CNN: Florida’s new immigration law prompts travel advisory from Latino advocacy group; Elisabeth Buchwald and Carlos Suarez