The NAACP, travel warnings, and Jim Crow cards

On May 4, 2017, in Missouri, Tory Sanders, a 28-year-old Black man, went to the police for psychiatric help. Sanders was taken to the county jail, where a mental health counselor recommended that he be hospitalized for observation.

Eight hours later, Sanders died in jail.

Sanders was beaten by police officers after an altercation. He was also jolted with a stun gun and pepper sprayed. Because Sanders died from “excited delirium,” the Attorney General of Missouri decided not to prosecute the cops involved.

The NAACP issued its very first travel advisory, warning people of color not to go to Missouri. A travel warning was a good way to expose this incident to the nation.

Except Sander’s death wasn’t the catalyst for the travel warning; it was Senate Bill 43.

The sponsors of Senate Bill 43 believed that discrimination plaintiffs in federal court and in the majority of other states are required to meet a higher burden of proof than plaintiffs in state courts in Missouri. Senate Bill 43 made it more difficult for terminated employees to demonstrate that they were the victims of racial discrimination.

Lawmakers said the bill was passed to reduce frivolous lawsuits.

The president of Missouri’s NAACP was furious and told an interviewer, “We have done about everything that we can to try to talk with the state … That has not been successful. So, at this point, we didn’t have much of an option. We had to warn people.”

How did the NAACP warn people? By using the Jim Crow card. This is done by asserting that America is returning to its racist roots, and the NAACP warned people that Missouri passed a Jim Crow law that permits legal discrimination.

In addition, the NAACP provided a list of rare occurrences of racism as well as statistics about racial disparities. Although these issues had nothing to do with Senate Bill 43, they were included in the travel warning in order to generate moral outrage against the state.

Apparently, the NAACP’s travel warning was a new tactic first tested in Missouri. There is no problem with this tactic in and of itself. It’s the Jim Crow card attached that makes it disingenuous.

Recently, the NAACP issued its second travel warning against Florida. The official travel warning’s opening sentence insists that “the state of Florida has engaged in an all-out attack on Black Americans.”

Now, it’s important to note that the NAACP did not issue a travel warning when Florida became the first state to implement a stand-your-ground law, nor did it issue a travel warning when Travon Martin was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch patrolman in Sanford, Florida.

So, what exactly is the all-out attack on Black Americans that should concern travelers? The official travel warning stated that Governor Ron DeSantis has signed various controversial anti-civil rights measures into law.

Here are three measures the NAACP labeled anti-civil rights.

1). The Combating Violence, Disorder, and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act: This bill created new criminal offenses and increased penalties for individuals who target law enforcement and participate in disorderly or violent assemblies.

2). The Stop Woke Act: This bill was enacted to prevent negative racial indoctrination in the workplace and public schools. Under this bill, unlawful discrimination is: (a) stating that a member of one race, national origin, or sex is superior to another race, national origin, or sex. (b) Stating that the status of privilege or oppressed is determined by race, national origin, or sex. (c) Insisting that a person, by their race, national origin, or sex, should be discriminated against to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.

3). The Constitutional Carry Act: This law strengthens the Second Amendment throughout the state by allowing Florida residents to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit.

As a left-leaning political interest group, it was expected that the NAACP would oppose these policy measures.

However, the travel warning uses the Jim Crow card again.

It states that Florida has criminalized protesting, restricted the ability of educators to teach African American history, and engaged in a blatant war against diversity and inclusion. It also stated that Florida devalues minorities.

This time, the travel warning issued by the NAACP was not only a strategy to arouse moral outrage toward the state; Leon Russell, the chair of the Board of Directors of the NAACP, stated that it was also a call to action against oppressive legislation and that it serves as a tool to mobilize voters.

The NAACP has a long and illustrious history of successfully rallying people, but playing the Jim Crow card in conjunction with their travel warning is hardly one of their more dignified moments.



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