It’s sad that we’ve come to this place. But apparently an explanation of slavery is needed for our new Housing and Urban Development Secretary, Ben Carson.
On Monday while speaking to his department employees, the Yale graduating neurosurgeon jumped on stage and made a statement that left the world confused.
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said about immigration. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
Black Twitter immediately got into formation.
Some even tried to explain the different perspectives between actual African immigrants and African-Americans that have had a completely different experience.
Even the New York Daily News called Carson out.
Slavery, in regards to trans-Atlantic trade to the Americas, started sometime around the 1600s. Anthony Johnson from Angola is said to be the first freed slave who served in the Colony of Virginia. But the three centuries of slavery predominantly from West Africa brought millions of human beings from the Motherland to North, Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean.
Black bodies used as work exports is not a myth. It’s not a joke. It wasn’t humane or for fair trade. And it, for certain, was not of their own volition.
To imply that these beyond-resilient Africans had a choice, and that that choice was to serve others and be subjected to death-like circumstances that reflect in systematic oppression to this day, is incredibly wrong.
And the saddest part, is that Ben Carson himself is a direct descendant of Southern slaves with his parents coming from “large families in rural Georgia”.
This morning, Carson and his wife issued a joint statement stemming from the outrage. “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,” it reads.
The statement is a hard pill to swallow. First, he does not apologize or use this moment to educate others (although he’s the one who needs the history lesson). But most alarming, he thinks African-Americans should “revel” in a tragic history that’s led to oppression in present day.
Hopefully Carson delves deeper into slavery and in the research he discovers who he is, in context to the generations of ancestors whose real “dream” was for us to be smarter than those who oppress us.