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Black History Month is upon us. Some will attempt to use it as a tool to push divisive agendas such as critical race theory or Black Lives Matter.
But we must avoid such ideologies and remain focused on what unites us as a nation, regardless of our race. Indeed, it is wrong to assume that Black history must only involve Black Americans.
Every moment of greatness in our history belongs to all Americans, because the fruits of those triumphs have blessed all of us. This applies to Washington crossing the Delaware, to the Constitutional Convention, and other events not typically acknowledged as Black history; these all belong to the Black story as well.
At the same time, there are both triumphs and tragedies that have been specific to the Black experience. The beautiful resistance against government tyranny that occurred at the Boston Tea Party was largely spurred by the killing of Black U.S. Army soldier Crispus Attucks by the British. Gospel, jazz and blues are beautiful, world unique musical forms that were born out of the Black experience in America. Let us celebrate those and other such triumphs during this month.
Yet, there are also tragedies that affect the Black population more than other groups. The crime rate is significantly higher, as is the prevalence of fatherless homes, sexually transmitted diseases, and discipline issues at school.
On top of that, there are problems not typically seen as racial issues which disproportionately impact Black Americans. Inflation, specifically of gas prices and housing prices, is one such problem. High gas prices are like regressive taxation, with the working class having to pay an increasing share of a smaller income just to get to and fro. The rapid rise in housing prices is crowding Black Americans out of the housing market.
As HUD secretary, I worked to address this problem by chairing the Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing. Illegal immigration – which suppresses wages – is harmful to all working-class Americans, including much of the Black population. That these issues are never framed as Black issues shows a failure of leadership on behalf of those who style themselves as leaders in the Black community.
Those who portend to care about Black issues, such as proponents of critical race theory or Black Lives Matter, seem to always be silent when it comes to evidence-based solutions to address the pandemic of broken homes, crime in Black communities, or other such ills. Their only analysis of such unfortunate phenomenon is to blame them on racism, without evidence, thus making these issues outside the realm of practical solutions, and unsolvable.
The occasion of Black History Month should be used to move past such rhetoric and agendas, and make progress on uplifting lives.