FROM STAFF REPORTS
Dr. Ben Carson is facing backlash, especially on Twitter, after his introductory remarks to HUD staffers on Monday referring to slaves that were brought to the U.S. on slave ships as immigrants.
“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.”
Twitter comments included:
“Slavery, by its very name, kind of explains why slaves were not “immigrants.’’
‘Slaves were immigrants too? WTF dude. They were taken from their homelands by force, put in chains and sold like cattle.’’
The Anne Frank Center posted: “WE CONDEMN REMARKS of #BenCarson today that slaves are “immigrants.” @WhiteHouse we say #BlackLivesMatter and so should you.’’
And actor Samuel L. Jackson went ballistic with his comment that used colorful language. His post in part:
Jackson also condemned the comments on Twitter, writing: “OK!! Ben Carson….I can’t! Immigrants? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAF—- PLEASE!!!”.
A HUD spokesman later called the outcry “the most cynical interpretation of the secretary’s remarks to an army of welcoming HUD employees. No one honestly believes he equates voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude.”
Carson tried to clarify his comments later. Here’s the full clarification he posted on his Facebook page.
“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,’’ he wrote.
“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.
“He continued, “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,’’ Carson concluded.