The NAACP’s latest salvo at Ron DeSantis

By Dr. Harold A. Black

Last year the NAACP issued a “travel advisory” warning blacks that Florida was a “hate state” hostile to people of color. This probably was a surprise to the 6 million black and Hispanic residents. When I took one of my two annual trips to Florida later in the year I was only attacked by mosquitos, fire ants and love bugs. Personally, I think it is a testament to how badly people want to flee the North if they move to Florida. I guess the aforementioned mosquitos, fire ants, love bugs and of course, Palmetto bugs (giant roaches), alligators, boa constrictors, humidity and a few hurricanes are a small price to pay if you are from New York.

The NAACP which is more interested in climate change, environmental “justice” and LGBTQ+ than in black education was responding to Ron DeSantis’ rejection of the AP course on black history. That course was more one of political and social indoctrination to the views of the left than one of history with sections on queer blacks in history, Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project’s rewriting of American history. DeSantis commissioned a group of scholars to write a more accurate rendering of history. Those who jumped on the anti-DeSantis bandwagon said that he was erasing black history when they were the ones who denigrated black accomplishments in the face of the vestiges of slavery and Jim Crow.

Now the NAACP has struck again urging black athletes not to go to Florida colleges and universities because the state eliminated DEI staff and DEI programs from its schools. The president of the NAACP (who is from Mississippi) and its chairman (who lives in Tampa) in a letter to the president of the NCAA said, “While it is our duty to spread awareness and encourage action around these egregious assaults, we also recognize that protest can come at a price. The sad reality is, for many Black student-athletes, collegiate sports may be their sole opportunity at achieving the upward mobility necessary to propel them into their rightful places in society.”

“Florida’s rampant anti-Black policies are a direct threat to the advancement of our young people and their ability to compete in a global economy,” NAACP president Johnson said in a statement. “Diversity, equity, and inclusion are paramount (to) ensuring equitable and effective educational outcomes.

“The value Black and other college athletes bring to large universities is unmatched. If these institutions are unable to completely invest in those athletes, it’s time they take their talents elsewhere.”

Emmitt Smith, one of the University of Florida’s most notable alumni opined, “We need diverse thinking and backgrounds to enhance our University and the DEI department is necessary to accomplish those goals.”

Do the NAACP and Emmitt Smith want DEI in all parts of the university including sports? Surely they don’t advocate for more whites on the football teams and the basketball squads. Well since 15% of the Florida population is black, then I guess they want only 15% of football players and basketball players to be black. Not! Anyway, the NIL money is more meaningful to the athletes than DEI.

Neither the NAACP nor Smith show how the elimination of DEI would negatively impact the education of black students and in particular black athletes. In fact, there is no evidence that DEI has furthered the academic achievement of black students. But the evidence does not matter to the NAACP. The large proportions of blacks in sports have resulted in more blacks emerging from poverty than any effort by the NAACP. One interesting observation is that the school in Alabama with the most diverse student body is Troy State University which does not spend a single penny on DEI.

Does the NAACP president also want the five-star Florida athletes to also shun the HBCUs in the state that have athletic programs? I am waiting to hear the protests coming from the coaches at Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman. Perhaps he is hoping that Florida athletes will come to his more welcoming and inclusive state of Mississippi. Rather, I suggest that they come instead to the University of Georgia, the Ohio State University and of course to the University of Tennessee.