I have yet to meet a tea party member who wants to see me “hanging on a tree,” as U.S. Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana recently suggested. He says the tea party considers me a second-class citizen. In truth, as a black conservative woman in Utah, I have been welcomed into the arms of a freedom-loving movement. The tea party reflects the principles of freedom and prosperity black Americans have long fought to win.
Today, however, some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are more interested in igniting racism than extinguishing it. Especially during a time when we reflect on the unity and common resolve our nation mustered in the aftermath of 9/11, we should be finding ways to bring people together, not tear them apart. Far from promoting freedom or unity, though, the CBC’s agenda calls for ever-increasing levels of animosity and, for black Americans, dependency. We will never win the fight for equality by asking to be singled out.
Carson’s comments, along with those of Rep. Maxine Waters of California telling the tea party to “go straight to hell,” send a disturbingly hostile message. As the only conservative member in the 43-member caucus, Rep. Allen West of Florida has urged the chairman of the CBC to condemn “hate-filled comments” of some members. West is still waiting for a response from the caucus, but what he really needs are reinforcements in Congress who will better reflect the diversity of views held by black Americans.
The principles reflected in the tea party are not at odds with the values of black Americans. You don’t have to be white — or black, or Hispanic, or Asian, or anything else — to care about the important issues facing our nation. My priorities of fiscal discipline, personal responsibility and smaller government draw upon my own experience as an American.
My parents immigrated to this country from Haiti with nothing but a strong family and a solid work ethic. My father, who took two jobs to help pay for my education, was a living example of personal responsibility. He is proud to say he didn’t take a handout. When I graduated from college, my father told me, “You will not be a burden to society. You will give back.”
The CBC’s vision statement reads: “We envision a world in which the black community is free of all disparities and able to contribute fully to advancing the common good.” While people of all races should have equal opportunities, the CBC legislative agenda calls for ever-increasing levels of dependency for black Americans through federally initiated entitlement programs.
I respect the desire of the CBC to provide for the needs of the poor communities they serve. However, I reject the notion that dependency on government is the answer. We spend nearly $1 trillion a year on means-tested poverty programs in this country. But those programs have done little to stem the tide of poverty in America. We can no longer afford to keep spending money on programs that aren’t working. Trimming government and getting it out of the way of economic recovery is the best way to create jobs and wealth that enable people to pull themselves out of poverty.
Personal responsibility, as demonstrated by my father, cannot be omitted from the equation. More importantly, as leaders in black communities, members of the CBC must stop demonizing those who promote such values. I join Florida Rep. Allen West condemning the comments made by senior members of the CBC.
The inflammatory rhetoric and class-warfare agenda of many of today’s CBC members do not reflect the values upon which this country was founded. As an American who is also black, I am proud to align myself with the forces of freedom.
Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, is the first black female mayor elected in that state. In August 2011, she announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider a 2012 run for U.S. Congress. To learn more about Mia, you can visit MiaLove.net. Her press contact, Daniel McCay, can be reached at (801) 560-0400.