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Austin Chenge, a GOP candidate for Michigan governor, is facing backlash over his stance on Black History Month.
On Monday, Black Army veteran announced he would abolish the annual observance in the state if he’s elected, stating that the month was not only “unfair” it was also potentially illegal.
“I will cancel #BlackHistoryMonth in #Michigan,” he wrote on social media. “It’s offensive, unfair, maybe illegal… Americans from all backgrounds deserve a revered history. I’ll declare American History Month.”
According to the Metro Times, Chenge is the first Republican to launch a campaign against Gretchen Whitmer, the current Democratic governor of Michigan. The 35-year-old has caught heat over his “deeply conservative” positions as well as his defense of former president Donald Trump. He has vowed to cancel the state’s contract with Dominion Voting Systems—a voting machine manufacturer at the center of baseless election fraud claims—and has defended the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last month.
“Some of them were overcome by passion, more passion than others and may have acted in a way that they didn’t intend to when they went there,” Chenge told the Detroit News about the deadly siege. “… If someone is motivated by passion to do something, it’s more subjective than it is objective.”
Chenge, who is of Nigerian descent, would become Michigan’s first Black governor if elected; however, he recently told NPR he wasn’t interested in the historical significance of a potential win.
“I don’t actually see myself as a minority, or a Black American, or a Black anything or a minority anything,” he said. “I just see myself as an American. When we start focusing on a person’s gender or race or anything that causes division, we lose our unity as Americans … If I become the governor of Michigan, I’m not going to be the first Black governor of Michigan. I’m going to be just another American governor.”
You can read reactions to Chenge’s attack on Black History Month below.