naacp issues travel advisory for ‘openly hostile’ florida
The mayors of Tampa and St. Petersburg promise to continue promoting diversity and welcoming all tourists.
Given Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “aggressive attempts to erase Black history and to restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs in Florida schools,” the NAACP advises visitors to reconsider visiting the state.
The official travel warning from the group, released on Saturday, states, “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 advisory was first presented to the national board of directors by the NAACP’s Florida State Conference in response to what the group calls the governor’s “unrelenting attacks on fundamental freedoms.”
The mayor of Tampa reassured potential visitors in response to the warning that they would be welcomed with “open arms.”
Tampa’s mayor, Jane Castor, said in a statement early on Sunday that “diversity and inclusion are central to what makes Tampa one of America’s greatest and friendliest cities.” No matter what happens in Tallahassee, that won’t change.
According to communications director Adam Smith, the city is contacting several upcoming convention groups to “make sure they understand the reality of Tampa’s welcoming climate.”
Mayor Ken Welch of St. Petersburg, located across the bay, said in a statement that the NAACP, “along with people from every race, religion, and background, can count on the City of St. Petersburg as a true champion for diversity.”
Welch stated, “We are purposeful in our work to make St. Pete a shining example of building bridges, working together, intentional equity, and respect for all.
Florida experienced a record-breaking year for tourism in 2022, with an estimated 137.6 million visitors, an increase of almost 13% from 2021.
Hillsborough County’s tourism division, Visit Tampa Bay, declined to comment. No one could be reached for comment Sunday morning at Visit St. Pete/Clearwater.
The NAACP joins a few other civil rights organizations in warning that DeSantis’ policies make visiting Florida dangerous because the state is “openly hostile towards African Americans, people of color, and LGBTQ+ individuals.”
In advance of a new immigration law that will take effect this summer, the League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the oldest Hispanic civil rights organizations in the U.S., issued a warning last week advising immigrants to stay away from traveling to Florida.
Similar advice was given by Equality Florida in April, which the advocacy group described as an “unprecedented step” brought on by “hateful laws” and subsequent concerns about the safety of visiting the state.
The Florida Immigrant Coalition issued a similar warning earlier this year and flagged the entire state as high risk for potential detention and family separation, stating bluntly: “Travelling to Florida is dangerous.”
The Florida chapter of the NAACP brought up the idea of issuing a travel advisory to the organization’s board of directors at their state conference in March.
“They say Florida is the free state,” Hillsborough County NAACP President Yvette Lewis told the Times on Sunday. However, Florida does not guarantee African Americans’ freedom.
The NAACP has previously recommended against visiting or boycotting a particular state, as was stated in its announcement on Saturday.
The state of South Carolina flew the Confederate flag on the grounds of its capitol in 1999, prompting the organization to call for a boycott of the country. In 2017, the group issued a travel warning for Missouri after the state legislature passed a law it had deemed permitted “legal discrimination.”
Boycotts and advisories have historically been used to put economic pressure on states perceived as unsafe for people of color. Lewis is hoping that the advisory will draw constant national attention and pressure on the Republican governor and legislature to address what she described as an urgent civil rights situation that is developing throughout the state.
Why do people in Florida feel the need to treat African Americans in this way? Why are our books being prohibited, are teachers being forbidden from teaching authentic African American history, and are diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives being eliminated? said Lewis. Gov. DeSantis, why? Why?”
Why did the NAACP Issues Travel Advisory For ‘Openly Hostile’ Florida?
The NAACP’s travel advisory for Florida highlights the importance of understanding the impacts of policy and power dynamics in shaping our society. It is a call to action for us to stay informed on current events, as well as hold those in positions of power accountable when they work against marginalized communities and their cultures. We must remain vigilant and continue to fight oppressive practices wherever we can to create an equitable world for all people.