NAACP’s national delegates voted on Wednesday to issue a “travel advisory” stating that people of color and other marginalized groups traveling to Missouri are at risk of their civil rights being violated.
According to the Springfield News Leader, the delegates chose to nationally adopt the advisory after it was put in motion statewide in June. The advisory — warning people of color, women, LGBT people and people with disabilities that they should “travel with extreme caution” — refers to the recent bill signed by Gov. Eric Greitens (R) that makes suing for housing or employment discrimination more difficult.
“Our ongoing issues of racial profiling, discrimination, harassment and excess violence toward people of color have been further exacerbated by the passage and signing of [Senate Bill] 43,” Cheryl Clay, Springfield’s NAACP president, told the News Leader.
Despite the cautionary measure put in place, Clay, along with other chapter members, emphasized that this is not a boycott, but rather a warning and response to the legislation.
“Not all the communities have the desire or the will to do the right thing for people in their community,” Clay said. “Thus, this is why Missouri has earned the travel advisory for the whole state.”
Along with the bill, the advisory slams the state for a number of issues that date back to the Missouri Compromise of 1819, including, “Racial and ethnic disparities in education, health, economic empowerment and criminal justice.” A “long history” of racial violence and harassment was also illustrated and proven to be concerning, with recent data showing Black drivers were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over by cops than white drivers in 2016.
“It rolls back to civil rights protections for employees and whistle blowers,” Clay told the News Leader.
“It makes it nearly impossible to file and win a discrimination lawsuit,” she added.
Last year in an interview with the Springfield Business Journal, Clay elaborated further on injustices and the lack of diversity in her city.
“When I look at diversity from a broader view, I look at diversity not only as you can live anywhere you want and be employed anywhere you want, but also on an economic status. How is our wealth divided within our community?” Clay said.
She further added, “The people who are making the decisions regarding our community, how does that reflect the diversity in our city? If you look at it from that angle, we have no diversity in our city.”
But despite the travel advisory drawing attention to Missouri, Wes Pratt, Missouri State University’s chief diversity officer, said that it highlights cross cultural issues.
“It’s just another clarion call that we need to be intentional about addressing issues of race and difference not only in our state, but in America,” said Pratt, according to the News Leader.
Just a month before the delegates voted, Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel told The Associated Press that he thinks “everybody’s civil rights are now in jeopardy.”
After the travel advisory was approved, Chapel followed up his statement with the AP and said he hopes the move will boost awareness and that the advisory will be up for ratification by the national board in October.
But until then, Chapel isn’t ruling out a full boycott, a tactic that’s been used against other states that have adopted conservative policies — including North Carolina, when the NAACP launched an economic boycott after the controversial “bathroom bill,” a bill that required transgender people to use the bathroom that matched their birth certificate rather than gender identity.
Although the state later repealed portions of the bill, it still left uncertainty for the future and safety of minority groups.
The Missouri NAACP and other opponents of the bill on discrimination will be rallying this evening at the Capitol in Jefferson City to dissuade the governor from signing the bill.