Racism in the United States has always been harmful across racial lines. Homophobia and Transphobia have detrimental effects on everybody. Latinophobia and generalized xenophobia also contribute to societal harm. As the economy begins to falter in Florida, bigoted anti-trans, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, and anti-everything-non-white-cis-male policies are proving just how harmful they are. The Sunshine State currently holds first place for inflation in the U.S. at 9%.
The overall U.S. economy, on the other hand, recently saw inflation drop to 3% nationally.
Organizations from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), and Equality Florida have all issued travel advisories as the recent laws passed are having detrimental effects on marginalized communities.
The so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill prompted LGBTQ and human rights organizations to warn members of those communities to use caution if traveling to Florida or to avoid the state altogether. The “Stop Woke Act” forced the NAACP to issue a warning as well and SB 1718, the anti-immigrant bill signed into law in May, also forced LULAC and migrant worker organizations to warn their communities. The bill prompted a flood of migrant workers to leave mutilating the state’s labor pool and creating a strain on contractors and the agricultural sector.
All of this is having a destructive impact on Florida’s economy.
The thing is, Republican fear-mongering convinced people to vote for this. Yes, the vast majority of the state wanted to silence “wokeness” without any idea of what “woke” really means. Even most white liberals don’t know its history and use it out of context constantly. Same thing with Critical Race Theory. Most people still don’t know what that is either. Even immigrants, who commit far less crime than U.S. citizens, were scapegoated, demonized, and used as pawns to inflame the bigotry so many people still hold thanks to broad biases in various media formats.
They use kids as shields and hide behind Jesus as they promote QAnon-level nonsense and blame Draq Queens and immigrants for child sexual assault and child trafficking despite the biggest offenders being pastors and cops in the United States. Even members of the military and the U.S. border patrol are constantly being arrested for child trafficking and sexual assault. But they don’t want to talk about that when they have so many straw men to blame.
Now, as in decades past, their bigotry has already come back at them in the form of a crippled and limp economy as housing prices soar, gas prices climb, and home insurers flee the state leading to the highest prices in the country as hurricane season approaches. In addition to all of this, countless children and adults lost their Medicaid insurance due to Gov. DeSantis refusing to use tools offered by the federal government to keep them insured.
And yet, it gets worse for Floridians.
As protesters hit the streets across Florida and various parts of the country, many, including Latino truckers, also began calling for a boycott of the state. While some may say the trucker boycott failed to manifest into anything tangible, their voices and the virality of the social media posts brought much-needed attention to the issue that would have otherwise gone ignored like the laws in Texas and Kansas.
The boycotts range from not buying any Florida products to canceling vacations and trips to the state. All of this has led to at least 10 groups canceling events and conventions in South Florida alone – in addition to the thousands who canceled trips. They all cite legislation and the political climate as the main reason along with the state not being friendly to their core values.
According to WPLG (Local 10) in South Florida, “educators, the big toy industry, the group 100 Black Men,” and radio personality Tom Joyner are among those to cancel their events. A farmworker’s association also pulled two events. Broward County’s Chief Tourism Officer Stacy Ritter told Local 10 that groups have said they don’t want to send the wrong message by going somewhere that is hostile to marginalized groups and bringing business to the state.
“They don’t want to suggest that they are going someplace to bring business which may not be as friendly to their core values as others,” Ritter told Local 10. “Many are concerned they won’t get people coming here, that the conferences won’t be successful if they’re held in Florida.”
In addition, events are being canceled across the state. Three conventions were canceled in Orlando just last week. They include the National Society of Black Engineers who pulled their 50th conference and the Con of Thrones, a Game of Thrones convention that pulled their plans in the city as well. Exacerbating the issues for Floridians is a lack of workers willing to do what the immigrants who fled were doing.
In addition to the construction and agricultural industries struggling to find workers, there is a vast shortage of hospitality workers as well. These shortages have led to subpar service at resorts, amusement parks, bars, and hotels. Cab drivers and ride-share drivers are reporting drops in revenue due to a shortage of tourists as are restaurants and many local businesses.
When policy is driven by hate, the consequences of the legislation passed to appease the most bigoted among us get overlooked. We’ve seen it before. Ten years ago in Arizona and California along with many other states throughout history, anti-immigrant laws were passed that utterly destroyed their respective economies and agricultural sectors. Lessons bigots never learn from because they think they’re better than the last ones. They are not.
Consequently, Republican women in Florida are now talking about switching political parties. Not because the state now has one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, but because Gov. DeSantis signed into law a bill that eliminates permanent alimony and sets up a formula for amounts based on the length of marriage. No, they aren’t bothered by all the racism, hate, and bigotry codified into law and discussed here. They’re bothered by losing money.
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