UPDATE: After enough media attention was brought to Ben Carson’s comments, he quickly went to Facebook to better explain his words. This is something he should have easily noticed before speaking, but sadly this is only proving how the Donald Trump Administration is choosing to create their own revisionist history.
In Ben Carson’s words:
I’m proud of the courage and perseverance of Black Americans and their incomprehensible struggle from slavery to freedom. I’m proud that our ancestors overcame the evil and repression that we know as slavery.
The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences. Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.
The Immigrants made the choice to come to America. They saw this country as a land of opportunity. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all their opportunities. We continue to live with that legacy.
The two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten, as we demand the necessary progress towards an America that’s inclusive and provides access to equal opportunity for all.
We should revel in the fact that although we got here through different routes, we have many things in common now that should unite us in our mission to have a land where there is liberty and justice for all.
Dr. Ben Carson
Secretary of HUD
If there were ever a doubt that the current presidential administration is a shame operation full of bigoted elitists who don’t know (or care to know) the first thing about running a country, Ben Carson’s Monday speech confirms that fact. The doctor proved just how far up Trump’s ass he is when he, only a few days into his new role as Housing and Urban Development Secretary, referred to slaves as immigrants. Yes, this black man likened his ancestors to those who came and still come to this country willingly and in good spirits in hopes of the American dream. That is not what happened, and he knows it. Africans were torn from their homes, cultures, and families to make white people’s lives better in a land that white people themselves stole. Shame on Ben Carson for spreading disgusting, “red herring” alternative facts.
The verbiage he used in his speech to department employees concerning slaves in America is something that I’ve heard before. In fact, there are actually textbooks (in places like Texas and parts of Florida I’m sure) that refer to slaves as immigrants. Using that term is beyond misleading. It is offensive and a slap in the face to those who endured tremendous hardships at the hands of people who felt that they were and are superior human beings. Carson has allowed himself to be a tool for the continued whitewashing of black history and black experiences in a country that so desperately needs reform. His role as a pawn in the hands of white people is nothing new. He has been that person for a long time now but is a regurgitation of a totally absurd retelling goes too far. Not only does he look like an idiot, but also his willingness to refer to slavery and what happened to those affected by it as immigrants is distracting. What are we not paying attention to because of this foolery? These are the questions we have to start asking ourselves with this administration.
Carson knows what he’s doing. He is not stupid in that sense. Saying something to get black folks all up in arms, I’m convinced, is a part of the plan to keep us preoccupied with the bullshit while other damaging situations take place that will affect us after the fact. It happens all the time, and Trump’s minions are masters of foolish distractions. When black people refer to slaves as, “immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships [and] worked even longer, even harder for less… [For] a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters… might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land,” it reframes this important part of history. It lessens it. It makes light of the point that black folks were only considered 3/5th of a person. It, as I mentioned above, whitewashes what those in power did to those without it in America.
This Yale-educated man knows what an immigrant is. Merriam-Webster defines the term as, “A person who comes to a country to take up permanent residence.” Saying that slaves were immigrants insinuates that Africans came to America of their own free will, with the hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families. Using that term to describe what happened to my ancestors communicates that they were given equal opportunities for love, life, happiness, and wealth. When it comes down to it, “immigrant” means something that does not apply to slaves and Carson’s strategic negligence in using the term is disgusting.
We, all those who want an equal America for people of color, women, LGBTQ, immigrants and more, have got to call out these people when they make these kinds of statements. Furthermore, we have to demand that they do right by us. This is going to come by voicing our concerns, hounding elected officials through every communication channel available to us and by voting. Next year is one of the most important elections since the 2016 presidential race. The 2018-midterm elections, which could put the House of Representatives totally in the hands of the Republicans, must have a better turnout than November 9, 2016. This is how we stay vigilant. This is how we ensure that people like Carson, appointed by people like Trump, who people in America voted for, don’t win. Yes, at this point, it is a winner/loser thing. We have to look at it that way in order for us to truly understand the dire need to be involved in the process.
Carson’s delusion is dangerous. He represents a segment of America who believes that it’s okay to reframe the content of a situation to fit the context of their ill-informed, propagandic, one-sided message. I am not here for it. Degrading and insulting the experiences of the people who carried this country on their bruised and scarred backs is the continuation of the nightmare we are in and gives a glimpse of the nightmare that’s to come.