America’s leading civil rights organization says Florida is a dangerous place for Black and LGBTQ people. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which had been considering issuing a travel advisory for the state since March, finally did so on May 20. The advisory came days after Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill banning state schools and universities from investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
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“Please be advised that Florida is openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the advisory reads. “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 minorities.”
Previous travel advisories issued for discrimination
This isn’t the first time the NAACP has put out a travel advisory. In 2017, it warned against traveling to Missouri after that state passed a bill making it harder to identify discrimination. That was the first such advisory since the organization was founded in 1909. In 2017, the NAACP issued an advisory against American Airlines, lifting it nine months later. The Missouri warning is still in effect, despite the state’s efforts to promote supposed improvements.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had issued similar advisories before, against Texas in 2017 and Arizona in 2010.
The NAACP’s Florida advisory aims to make Black and LGBTQ people aware that the state “has engaged in an all-out attack” on them and suggests that they think of it as a hostile location. It highlights a series of laws signed by DeSantis, of which the anti-DEI legislation is the most recent.
Raising awareness and asking for advocacy
“We are advising African Americans and others that if you travel to Florida, beware that your life is not valued, that we have a political landscape that could cause harm as we prepare for the 2024 elections to right-size the political landscape in the state of Florida,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said on CNN on May 22.
Beyond raising awareness, the NAACP advisory seeks to spark action. “If you do decide to go to the State of Florida, please advocate for legislation that supports diversity in all aspects of education,” it says. The advisory also asks people to advocate for the right to assemble, protest, and vote.
And for those who live in the state, the NAACP has a request: “If you are a resident of Florida, we ask you to join us in our advocacy efforts to defeat the regressive policies of this Governor and this state legislature. Our greatest asset is the voice of the millions who speak up every day to protect our democracy and our civil rights.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has recently released a statement affirming that Florida is an unsafe environment for African American and LGBTQ Americans. The NAACP’s Florida branch executive director, Adora Obi Nweze, has pointed to recent incidents of physical assaults targeting people of color or those who identify as LGBTQ as key indicators that hate and violence against these individuals is on the rise.
Nweze cites figure from the Bureau of Justice Statistics that show increases in hate crimes in the United States, with Florida seeing the second highest increase in reported hate crimes of any state. This spike is attributed to President Trump and his administration’s policies, which Nweze suggests have made the state a “hostile climate” for minority communities.
The statement, which was released on July 14, pleaded with Florida’s elected officials to support additional legislation and resources which addresses discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system, and also dedicated more funds to address hate crime incidents.The NAACP is further urging officials to condemn actions and rhetoric that conduce to violence against minority groups.
In outlining the urgency of the issue, Nweze emphasized that the safety and well-being of those most vulnerable must be taken seriously: “These attacks have victims, people, people with names, people with stories, and people with families who are devastated by hate. We must remember the real human cost of these incidents as we work together as a society to end this criminal epidemic.”
The NAACP points out that Florida’s African American and LGBTQ community are disproportionately affected by violence, and are already at greater risk of discrimination due to systemic racism and homophobia. As such, the organization argues that it is critical for immediate action to be taken to ensure that these communities can feel safe and protected at all times.