Congratulations, Ben Carson; You’ve Surgically Removed Yourself from the Black Community

On Monday, Mar. 6 of 2017, Benjamin Carson made a speech in front of his department employees, as well as the media outlets who were covering the event. As the newly-appointed United States Secretary of Housing and Development, the 65-year-old man chose to speak about America and how it is “the land of dreams and opportunity.” Of course—because this is Ben Carson and he is not a stranger to idiocy and scandal—the speech took a sharp turn as he brought his attention to immigration and slavery.

“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.”

There are not enough words in the English dictionary to describe how disappointed I am, Ben Carson. Even after you have numerously proven yourself to be nothing short of an ignorant old man, there was still a small part of me that wanted to believe that you could redeem yourself. Even after your ignorant belief in the pyramids being used to store grain, and even after your ridiculously hateful rhetoric of the LGBTQ+ community, I somehow hadn’t cast the thought of redemption out of my brain.

This, though—like all of your other comments, really—is irredeemable. It shouldn’t have to be said, but I’ll say it anyway.

Slaves were not immigrants. At all.

Immigrants come to this country for a better life than the one they had. Immigrants are willing to work in America, so willing that they’ll illegally cross borders to create a better future for themselves and their children. Immigrants believe—or try to believe—in the American Dream, because that’s the only dream that they can cling to. Immigrants are not slaves.

African slaves were forcibly kidnapped from their land, stolen from their lives and friends and families, and then forced to work in America for no compensation. Slaves were brought to this land to lead a worse life than they led in Africa, to be bound to their “masters” and gruesomely punished at every minor infraction. Slaves were not willing; slaves fought back, often to no avail, and the white people in America scorned and hated them for it. The only dream that slaves had was the dream to be free of their oppressive captors, and maybe even gain revenge while they’re at it.

How dare you, Ben Carson? How dare you equate simple immigration to the enslavement of an entire race that lasted for over 240 years? Have you lost your mind? How do you think your own people are looking at you right now? What do you think we’re thinking about you right now? To be on Donald Trump’s prejudicial administration is damning enough, and the other things you’ve said have been equally condemnatory, but this is something beyond ignorance.

This is—for lack of a better word—deplorable.

Congratulations, Ben. You have officially lacerated yourself from the black community. In middle school, you were an icon; you proved to us and the world that African-Americans can fight against the systematic racism in our country—and win. You proved to us that the color of our skin does not make us genetically inferior to our Caucasian counterparts, as they would like us to believe. You had entire schools who looked up to you, who celebrated you during Black History Month.

Not anymore. Not ever again.

Do you know why 88% of African-Americans voted against Trump on Nov. 8? Do you sincerely believe that the oppressive regime of the Republican party is imagined, that we’re hallucinating the negative effects that they have on our lives? Is your hubris really so large that you believe yourself to be better than us, to know more than us?

If that’s the case, you really are nothing but an old fool.

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Jalen M. Brown
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Jalen is a 16-year-old African-American Writer, Wannabe-YouTuber, and Social Activist from Atlanta, Georgia. His likes include eating, sleeping, and complaining; for him, that's the holy trinity. His dislikes range from a variety of things, from Donald J. Trump to mayonnaise — and math, but that's a given. A dreamer at heart, Jalen has a plethora of career goals, but his main goal is to move to New York City after high-school and maintain a fulfilling career in creative writing.

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