WASHINGTON, D.C. – HUD chief and former Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson created a firestorm when he referred to African slaves as “immigrants” before trying to talk his way out of the remarks.
In remarks to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Carson said “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.”
The backlash against Carson for his remarks was swift, spreading like wildfire across the internet, with news outlets and political pundits punishing him for much of Monday.
In response, Dr. Carson released a statement, attempting to clarify his earlier statements on slaves being immigrants:
“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.”
In defense of Dr. Carson, some pointed out remarks by former President Barack Obama. which mentioned immigrants and slaves:
“We are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.”