HomeLatest NewsBiden Urged to Link Baltimore Bridge Rebuild with Race Reparations

Biden Urged to Link Baltimore Bridge Rebuild with Race Reparations

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President Joe Biden has been urged to use the reconstruction project of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, in Baltimore, as an opportunity for him to correct alleged racial bias against blacks within the construction industry.

Biden stated this week that his administration officials were instructed to “move heaven-and-earth” to reopen Baltimore’s port and rebuild the bridge. Reconstruction efforts may be complicated, however, by leftist demands for the project to further ideas on racial injustice, immigrants’ treatment, climate change, and wealth redistribution.

A recent op-ed published in The Hill highlights that some of these requests may be impossible to reconcile. Demands for more black representation can conflict with the demand that the U.S. continues to welcome the surge of immigrants at our border.

Roger House, professor emeritus at Emerson College and an expert in American Studies, says that the preference of employers for immigrant workers has led to “high displacement rates” of black construction workers.

House’s article in The Hill encourages the president “to show concern for rebuilding an important bridge — and to build a bridge of inclusivity for Black American workers as well in the construction industry.”

The Op-Ed:

President Biden has been unable to connect the benefits of his signature Infrastructure laws with disaffected Black workers. When Biden touts federally-backed construction projects, such as his remarks about a recent semiconductor chip factory in Arizona, it reminds Black working-class men of their exclusion from this industry.

Biden can use the collapse of Baltimore’s Francis Scott Key Bridge to change the narrative. The bridge, which was a major conduit across the Baltimore Harbor collapsed Tuesday after being hit by a cargo vessel. The bridge spans over 1.5 miles and is a major connector for the Baltimore area.

House says that “the Administration has failed to hold the states accountable for equity planning, as encouraged by the infrastructure legislation.”

House claims that Biden “failed moments” to crusade racial changes in construction, and in particular to stand up for Black men who are seeking skilled employment and contracting opportunities.

House writes that “union racism” is keeping black workers out of the construction industry, as well as “contractor preferences for immigrants”. The construction sector, which is 60 percent Hispanic and 30 percent white, has only five percent black workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The U.S. population is composed of 59.3 % non-Hispanic Whites, 18.9 % Hispanics, and 12.4 % Blacks.

House claims that “the surge in immigration since the 1980s was a source for cheap labor that contractors wanted and unions couldn’t hold back, and Black labor was the odd one out.” Even in disasters such as Hurricane Katrina federal contractors chose to hire immigrant crews over hiring and training Black men from the area.

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