State Watch

NAACP president on Florida warning: We shouldn’t use race to ‘weaponize against people’

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson on Monday defended the organization’s decision to issue a travel advisory to Florida for Black Americans and communities of color.

“The governor has perfected the art of pulling stunts to gain campaign contributions,” Johnson said on “CNN This Morning,” referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). “Unfortunately, this will impact people’s lives. We should not use race or othering as a tool to weaponize against people and unfortunately for a large percentage of Floridians, that’s what he has done. Therefore, we are advising African Americans and others that if you travel to Florida, beware that your life is not valued.”

The NAACP on Saturday issued a statement saying DeSantis has been on a quest to “silence” Black Americans and has made it clear they are unwelcome in the state. 

It also said the state “devalues and marginalizes the contributions of, and challenges faced by African Americans and other communities of color.”

“Due to this sustained, blatant, relentless and systemic attack on democracy and civil rights, the NAACP hereby issues a travel advisory to African Americans, and other people of color regarding the hostility towards African Americans in Florida,” the group said. 

Over the past year, DeSantis has signed a host of legislation into law that many argue is discriminatory and anti-Black. In addition to being one of the leading voices against critical race theory — an academic framework evaluating U.S. history through the lens of racism that has become a political catch-all buzzword for any race-related teaching — DeSantis signed the Stop WOKE Act, restricting how schools and workplaces can address race; banned an Advanced Placement African American studies pilot program from running in schools; and just last week prohibited colleges and universities from spending public funds on diversity, equity and inclusion programs. 

Johnson said on CNN that DeSantis is “minimizing the quality of education” and issuing policies that are harmful to “far too many individuals.”

“We are witnessing firsthand how he’s governing, and he’s governing to a small vocal minority of the community, not the majority interest of Florida,” Johnson said. “Nor is he governing towards a future of Florida, which will not not look like the small minority that he’s speaking to in this moment.”

In March, DeSantis was confronted with the possibility of the state’s NAACP chapter asking for such an advisory, but he called it a “joke.”

“We‘ll see how effective that is,” DeSantis said at the time. “It’s ridiculous, and we’re proud to be leading the nation in tourism.”

“This is part of the reason why our country, it goes through all these —  we get involved in these stupid fights. This is a stunt to try to do that, a pure stunt, and fine, if you want to waste your time on a stunt, that’s fine. But I’m not wasting my time on your stunts,” the governor added.

The NAACP’s travel advisory comes just days before DeSantis is expected to announce his bid for the White House. And according to Johnson, one of the goals of the travel advisory is to draw attention to these policies. 

“We didn’t get here overnight. It was because of the election so we have to prepare for the next election so we can get rid of him once and for all,” Johnson said. 

Tags Derrick Johnson Ron DeSantis

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