Editor, The Beacon:

The Beacon’s editorial “Creating a better community shouldn’t be illegal” (May 5) highlights the apparently commendable diversity and inclusion program offered by the MainStreet DeLand Association to local businesses.

But the editorial then takes a detour by suggesting that Florida’s new “Stop Woke Act” may render it illegal.

That’s hard to imagine for several reasons. First, the act doesn’t apply to voluntary participation in any group, only to compulsory attendance at group sessions that are racially discriminatory.

Secondly, acts of discrimination at mandatory training sessions are defined in the act to include such things as lecturing that gender or racial identity makes one inherently racist and immoral.

I believe we can all agree that no citizen should be forced to attend a demeaning and offensive seminar where they are subjected to being accused of inborn racism by virtue of their skin color, gender or any other physical attribute assigned at birth. Most Americans would rightly find such bigotry and vilification degrading and intolerable.

I assume and hope that the MainStreet DeLand training does no such thing and that it preaches the doctrine that we must all love and respect our fellow man and honor the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by seeking a world where all people are judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin.

Yes, the editorial is correct in cautioning that there will inevitably be issues of legal interpretation and application, but that’s always the case in drafting anti-discrimination laws to protect our citizens’ civil rights.

The editorial also refers to “the racism that built our country and our state.” Not so. Our country was built on hard work, sacrifice, courage, vision, innovation, and entrepreneurship by people of all races, colors and creeds.

While no one denies that racism exists, it’s not a defining trait of our nation, and no country has fought harder to eliminate it.

We have the freest and most prosperous minority population on the planet. Just ask the millions of immigrants from countries like Haiti and Nigeria who came here because they know that America is truly the land of opportunity for all people.

John DiChiara

DeLand

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