Target: Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Goal: Publicly apologize for comparing slaves to immigrants and belittling the suffering of African-Americans.
Ben Carson declared slaves were immigrants who came to America and “worked even longer and even harder for less.” These words were said during his first speech as secretary of Housing and Urban Development to illustrate the values of self-determination guiding American society and mark a fresh start to the work of the agency under the new administration. However, by likening African slaves’ forceful removal from their homeland to immigrants’ voluntary journeys, Mr. Carson disregarded the suffering slaves had to endure and how that painful legacy affects their descendants to this day.
Unlike most immigrants, African slaves did not choose to leave their homes in the hopes of creating a better life for themselves and their loved ones — they were violently, forcibly removed and enslaved. By making such a bizarre comparison, Ben Carson ignored the historic impact slavery has had on black Americans.
Mr. Carson is a renowned neurosurgeon and has broken boundaries in his career. Though his professional success should be praised, there is no excuse for any misuse of or disrespect to black history. Sign the petition below and demand a formal apology for his comments.
Dear Secretary Carson,
I demand formal apologies for your comments defining slaves as “involuntary immigrants.” Stating that slaves forcefully brought to this country “worked even longer and even harder for less” is a total misuse of black history and, therefore, a complete disrespect to the suffering black Americans experience today. While immigrants have come to America by choice and moved by their hopes of a better future, slaves were put at the bottom of ships against their will and experienced unimaginable violence and cruelty.
In a moment of critical discussions about racial relations and racism, public officials and figures should contribute with informed and thoughtful comments to the debate. You should set an example and urge Americans to acknowledge African-Americans’ struggles instead of trivializing them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore