AUSTIN, Texas— Julián Castro takes off his blazer to get to business. The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama met with The Grio during SXSW to set the record straight about his candidacy for president and plans for the Black community.
Castro made headlines recently for his pro-reparations stance—something critics call a long-shot and pandering to the African-American community.
But Castro, who is Latino, says it’s necessary for America to heal.
“I believe that it needs to address the descendants of slaves. So I see this as a direct initiative. I see it as a way to help heal the country going forward. And the question becomes OK, well how do you do that. How do you operationalize it?”
The answer for Castro is a commission, which would study different ways to implement and give African-Americans a boost.
Castro also suggests that a greater boost would come in the form of housing reform, universal Pre-K and changing the bail system, a subset of his criminal justice reform plan.
“People are sitting in jail right now because they can’t afford $200, $300, $500,” Castro told The Grio.
“I think we’re going backward again,” Castro says. “We saw 10 years ago during the housing crisis that Black homeownership and more broadly, Black wealth in this country got decimated.”
Fellow Texan, Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his plans to run for president, putting him squarely in competition with Castro for endorsements and territory in their home state.
Castro noticeably posted endorsements from 33 fellow Texas politicians, shortly after O’Rourke made his announcement. The list includes his twin brother Rep. Joaquin Castro, who represents San Antonio.
In an interview with The Grio, Castro delved into his motivations to run for president, plans to boost the economy, and his criticisms of Donald Trump‘s pitting African-Americans against Latinxs immigrants.
“The president is so determined to divide all Americans and especially has focused on trying to play the Latino community against the African-American community or the African-American community against the Latino community.”
Watch the full conversation above and tell us what you think about Castro’s vision for America in the comments below.