If it wasn’t apparent, Ben Carson is no longer invited to the cookout

No seasoned chicken for you Ben

Ben Carson, current Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, seems to think that African slaves were essentially the same as immigrants. In a speech given earlier this week, Carson made a half-baked attempt at fleshing out the American Dream.

He said: “And that’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity—there were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships that worked even harder, even longer, for less. And they, too, had a dream that one day their [descendants] might pursue prosperity and happiness.”

He claims slaves were “other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships… [They] worked even harder, even longer, [and] for less.”

While I appreciate the fact Carson shows slaves had a more difficult time in America than European immigrants, there are many glaring issues that lie in this pathetic comparison.

Immigrants were not captured, traded and used as livestock, beaten, and subjugated mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to produce cheap labor. Immigrants willingly came to America in pursuit of dreams and success. African slaves were torn away from their homeland and forced to spend their lives working ceaselessly in a foreign land.

Immigrants also were not considered legal property of other humans that could be used and abused as the owner saw fit. Immigrants were not forced to breed like livestock. Immigrants were not savagely beaten and killed by their captors as punishment for rebelling. Immigrants did not receive lashes for talking back to their owners. Immigrants were allowed to keep their culture, customs, and language. Immigrants were allowed to keep their humanity, African slaves had that all stripped away from them.

Also, since slaves had been brought here for hundreds of years, were several generations of the first African Americans who had never set foot on the African continent. In many ways our families have deeper roots in America than many white European families.

This was a foolish comparison to make. Even thought it was not easy for immigrants who came here in search of a better life, the narrative of immigrants cannot, in any way, be compared to the plight of African slaves. Anyone with basic knowledge of American history should be able to see this. This was not a slip of the tongue. Carson’s critics are not taking his words out of context. This is exactly what he said, and the implications from his words are grossly misinformed.

I think it’s safe to say that Carson is no longer invited to the cookout.

William & Mary: College of William and Mary