The author of Gifted Hands, Ben Carson, gave “slave” another meaning in his inaugural meeting as secretary of Housing and Urban Development with hundreds of department assembled employees. According to him, slaves are ‘immigrants’. The remark was part of the 40-minutes speech he gave in describing America as ‘land of dreams and opportunities’ on the week of his resumption.
This sweeping remark heated up another racial consciousness and generated reactions from social media. A Facebook user promptly suggested Root—1980s mini series on slavery—for Dr. Carson. More recent movies narratives about slavery like Django Unchained and 12 Years A Slave rebuffed Dr. Carson’s statement. While Dr. Carson was turning his attention to slavery after describing photographs of poor immigrants displayed at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, “That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity.’’
He added, “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.”
Then one begins to wonder; who were actually the immigrants at the bottoms of the slave ships: Oludah Equainoh, Phillis Wheatley, Ajayi Crowther and those who were brought to shore of Liberia after years of servitude in plantations in America? Or, those who escaped the post-independence disillusionment of African states? Or those who escaped terror of political terrorism in Allepo? Was Dr. Carson trying to be Trumplike? Was slavery voluntary?
However, in a later backtracked Facebook statement on Monday night, he distinguished between the two terms “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.”
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