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Stating that Florida is “openly hostile toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the NAACP has issued a travel advisory for the Sunshine State.
“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 advisory states.
The group said its Board of Directors took this step as a response to GOP Gov. Ron De Santis’s “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools.”
From banning books and canceling an AP African American studies class to curtailing the aforementioned diversity, equity, and inclusion programs at state colleges, the DeSantis administration has taken a series of actions that have drawn the ire of civil rights groups.
The White House has also waded into this controversy.
“It is incomprehensible,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said when asked about Florida blocking the African American studies class. “Let’s be clear. They didn’t block AP European history. They didn’t block our art history. They didn’t block our music history.”
DeSantis countered the criticism by saying his actions are meant to fight “indoctrination.”
The NAACP does not see it that way.
“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 & CEO Derrick Johnson.
He added that, under DeSantis, Florida has “become hostile to Black Americans and in direct conflict with the democratic ideals that our union was founded upon.”
The governor is expected to announce a run for the White House later this month. However, his campaign looks to be getting off to a rocky start as DeSantis had to endure a spate of negative headlines recently.
On Tuesday, Democrat Donna Deegan defeated the DeSantis-backed Republican candidate Daniel Davis in Jacksonville’s mayoral election, which was seen as a referendum on the policies of the controversial governor.
A day later, a Florida county was taken to court for banning books.
Now, the NAACP is calling him a racist.
“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 the chair of the NAACP Board of Directors, Leon Russell. “We will not allow our rights and history to be held hostage for political grandstanding.”
While it does not seem likely that criticism from the NAACP will hurt his chances in the GOP primary, it stands to reason that this is surely not the start to his presidential campaign that DeSantis envisioned.