WASHINGTON (AP) — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Monday compared slavery to immigration in the United States, a view that experts on slavery called inaccurate and a misleading reading of American history.

Carson, who was confirmed as HUD secretary last week and is the only black member of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, was talking about the work ethic and dreams of immigrants who came to the United States through Ellis Island in his first speech at the department.

“There were other immigrants who came here on the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” Carson said as he walked across a stage holding a microphone.

A HUD spokesman declined to comment on Carson’s statement. The department later tweeted: “This is 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 has been considered a hero and motivational speaker in African-American communities for his accomplishments in medicine, and became a prominent speaker in conservative circles after entering politics.

The retired neurosurgeon has drawn criticism before when making comparisons to slavery. In 2013 he branded “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act championed by President Barack Obama, “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”

Rana Hogarth, a history professor and expert on American slavery at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said comparing slaves with immigrants was “inappropriate and wildly inaccurate.” She said immigration “suggests a desire of a person to make the journey.”

“I think that he’s either misinformed or made a mistake,” Hogarth said. “His beginning on Ellis Island tells me there’s a major gap in his knowledge of how we talk about different ways people settled the United States and what circumstances they settled in United States.”

Rebecca Scott, a University of Michigan law and history professor, said slavery in the United States was a “dramatically distinct form of migration,” and that slavery made realizing the American dream much more difficult for captured Africans.

“That people had aspirations for their children regardless of how they were brought to the United States was certainly true,” Scott said. “Their capacity to see their aspirations realized was starkly limited by slavery.”

Carson spoke to HUD employees as he began his first full week leading the department. The Senate confirmed him last week.

The agency, with a budget of about $47 billion, provides housing assistance to low-income people through vouchers and public housing, enforces fair housing laws and provides development block grants to communities.

In his speech to a standing-room-only audience, Carson pledged to lead HUD with a “very big emphasis on fairness for everybody. Everything that we do, every policy. No favorites for anybody. No extras for anybody, but complete fairness for everybody.”

He praised HUD employees for their dedication to HUD’s “mission of really helping the downtrodden, helping the people in our society to be able to climb the ladder. Because to me, that really is what it’s all about.”

Democrats and housing advocates have expressed concern about his lack of government and housing policy experience. Carson said he plans to embark on a listening tour of communities and HUD field offices around the country to “see what works and what doesn’t work.”

Twitter had their say on Carson’s comments:

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Associated Press writer Jennifer C. Kerr contributed to this report.

 

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38 thoughts on “Ben Carson Calls Slaves ‘Immigrants’ In HUD Debut

  1. Peggy on said:

    Ben Carson , Great Doctor, But he is so ignorant in the statement he made! Anyone with good sense knows Black people were brought here to be slaves! He been lost his Black Card! Some Black people get so high up they forget they are Black until they are pulled over by a white cop! Ignorance is Bliss!

  2. STOPTHEKILLINGS on said:

    hahahaha…so sad, ben carson is so mis-informed. I’m actually surprised he has a black wife, ohhhh the white women in the past looked at him and ran in the other direction when he began to try to talk to them. idiot, fool, laughingstock, along with this damn chris on here, what an idiot he is read my post, read my post..go f yahself with yah post. obvisously you cant interpret shit right either so guess what nobody cares. you racist pig, you need to stop sucking on yah mammy breast, get out her basement, and go get a job, oh never mind you are so horrible looking that it would scare the people….hahahahaha.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Awww you crack me up! LOL! You nailed it, chris is an Obama hatin’ white troll fool, oh and loser who surfs black websites where he is clearly not liked. He will never be able to convince intelligent black folks of his non-sense rhetoric because WE CAN READ, we don’t need him to tell us how or what to think, we think for ourselves.

      • chris on said:

        You don’t like me, boo hoo. You were born on the left’s plantation and you have chosen not to leave. You’re apart of groupthink. You don’t need me to tell you what to think, you think what your democrat messiahs tell you to think.

  3. Sarah on said:

    And let me address his stuff about Obama said it and no one said anything. Like I said President Obama “ARTICULATED” the issue an put EVERYTHING in in context; Ben Carson did not. Ben Carson made it seem like a blacks came here with the same EQUALITY like immigrants who came here on their own and by their own free will. Regardless what Ben Carson intention might have meant to be, it came out wrong. And YEs, we as blacks are going to react. We know in the black communities that we have blacks who will sell blacks out because those blacks think that will help them stay in good grace with whites. For example, I do not care to hear nothing from Clarence Thomas but I will listen to Obama. Obama showed his love for his people unlike Thomas.

  4. ANNIE B on said:

    i can’t believe a man of his status sound so ignorant. That is to show you….. when black history is not taught in the white neighborhood black children really left behind of not knowing where they come from and where they are going. He is misleading his own people with not knowing anything about his own history and where he is from. Shame on you Ben Carson!!

  5. Chris on said:

    The funny thing is, Obama has made very similar comments numerous times in the past. Here are eleven of them.
    At a Naturalization Ceremony in 2015
    While addressing a crowd at the National Archives and Records Administration in 2015,
    In a speech at a naturalization ceremony in 2012, then-President Obama said this about slave ships:
    We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — 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.

    Obama had this to say while addressing a crowd at an event hosted by the Democratic National Committee on April 28:
    I want a confident America where, yes, everybody makes sacrifices, but nobody bears all the burden, and we live up to the idea that no matter who we are, no matter what we look like, no matter whether our ancestors landed on Ellis Island or came here on a slave ship or crossed the Rio Grande, we are all connected to one another.  We rise and fall together.

    While delivering a commencement speech at Miami-Dade College April 29, 2011, Obama repeated the line above, but with a bit of a twist:
    We didn’t raise the Statue of Liberty with its back to the world; we raised it with its light to the world.  Whether your ancestors came here on the Mayflower or a slave ship; whether they signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande — we are one people.

    At a DNC Event in Harlem, March 29, 2011
    Then-President Obama said:
    And so what we wanted to do was adapt to the times, adapt to the 21st century, but also remind ourselves that there are some old-fashioned, timeworn values; that whether your forebears landed at Ellis Island or they came here on a slave ship or they crossed the Rio Grande, or however they got here, they typically had a commitment to hard work and a commitment to community and a commitment to family and a willingness to dream big dreams, and a patriotism that was not rooted in ethnicity but was rooted in a creed and a set of ideals and a belief that in America anything was possible.

    At Another DNC event in California, April 22, 2011
    Obama said:
    My vision is for one where we’re living within our means but we’re still investing in our future, and everybody is making sacrifices and nobody bears all the burden, and we live up to the idea that no matter what you look like or where you come from, whether you landed here — your ancestors landed here on Ellis Island or they came here on a slave ship, or they just came over the Rio Grande, that we are all connected to one another and we all rise and fall together.

    Another DNC Event in Austin, Texas on May 10, 2011
    He said:
    That’s our vision of America.  It’s not a vision of a small America.  It’s a vision of a big America, a bold and optimistic America, an America that does big things.  It’s a vision where we’re living within our means but we’re still investing in our future; where everybody is making sacrifices, but nobody alone bears all the burden; where we live up to the idea that no matter who you — what you look like, or who you are, no matter whether your ancestors landed on Ellis Island or came over here on a slave ship or crossed the Rio Grande, that we’re all connected to one another, and that we rise or fall together.

    Another DNC Event in Boston, Eight Days Later
    Obama said:
    No matter what we look like, where we come from, what God we worship to, no matter whether our ancestors landed on Ellis Island or came here on a slave ship or crossed the Rio Grande, we believe that we are all connected and we rise and fall together. And that is a strength.  That is the strength of America.  That’s the heart of the idea of America.  That’s the heart of the idea of our campaign.

    Another DNC Event in Philadelphia, June 30, 2011
    Obama said:
    And the good news is that America is possible — an America where we’re living within our means, but we’re still investing in the future.  That’s possible.  Where everybody is making sacrifices, but nobody bears all the burden by themselves.  The idea that no matter what we look like or who we are, no matter whether our ancestors came from Ellis Island or on a slave ship, or across the Rio Grande, that we are all connected to one another, and that we rise and fall together.

    At a Gala for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, September 2011
    At the Washington D.C. event, Obama said this:
    It’s a vision where we live within our means, but we invest in our future; where everybody makes sacrifices, but nobody has to bear the burden alone, and everybody shares in our success; where we live up to the idea that no matter what you look like, no matter where you come from, no matter what your surname — whether your ancestors landed at Ellis Island, or came over on a slave ship, or crossed the Rio Grande — we are all connected, and we all rise and fall together.

    And at a Forum on American Latino Heritage, October 2011
    While addressing a crowd at the Department of the Interior in Washington DC, Obama said:
    And here in America, we are united by more than the color of our skin or the language that we speak.  We are joined together by a shared creed, a shared set of values.  We’re connected by the future we want for ourselves and our children.  And we determine our own destiny here.  Whether your ancestors came from a — came over on a slave ship, or crossed the Rio Grande, or were here long before the country was founded, we’re in this together.  And we have the opportunity right now to determine our own destiny.

    Next time progressives decide to skewer a Republican for saying something, it would behoove them see if President Obama has said the exact same thing. Or, at least, stop pretending not to know what Ben Carson is talking about.

    • Sarah on said:

      Obama did NOT make it seem like while those blacks were CHAINED up, they were thinking how great America was going to be. Those slaves did not know where they were going. See the difference As the saying goes, it is not what you say, it is how you say it. Carson “Normalize” slavery which was false.

  6. Gwendolyn Waller on said:

    This is why the history of black people in America needs to be taught in schools. White people don’t understand it because they have never been enslaved, discriminated against, raped or murdered because of skin color. So, they believe black people should just get over it because slavery no longer exists, and segregation and Jim Crow has ended. . Ben Carson has taken leave of his senses.

    • Chris on said:

      I hope when the history of black people in America is taught, you include that slaves brought to America were originally sold by black Africans and as a side note that slavery still exists in some African nations.

      • Sarah on said:

        Slavery existed in alot of countries HOWEVER America has the most worst. Yes, a slave in Africa still has his culture, his rights, his family, etc. and the slavery in Africa was about being subservant to another tribe. Slavery in Africa was NOT like Slavery which STRIP blacks, made blacks 3/4 o a human being, raped, etc. And yes, some blacks in Africa (many blacks were kidnapped) sold to the white man but there are theories that those blacks could have been killed if they did not do it (Europeans had GUNS/gun powder weapons, Africans did not) and a debate stills goes on about that.

  7. Carolyn Carter on said:

    Goes to show that you can be smart in the white house but you don’t have to have common sense, but then again with Carson I think he inhaled too much of that gas during brain surgeries.

  8. specialt757 on said:

    Gosh what can I say that has not already been said? this mofo right here, Lawd help me, I feel like I’m in a whirlwind of stupidity. Every word that comes out of any member of the orange hitler’s camp is pure unadulterated ignorance. Good gracious!
    Get a darn history book Ben Slaveson! Neurosurgeon? Good lawd!

  9. Shirley on said:

    And this fool used to operate on people’s brains. Someone needs to strap him down and give him a lobotomy. Stupid just falls out his mouth.

  10. redbone1954 on said:

    I am in a nighmare for sure. This can not be happening. This man cannot really believe what his own ignorant azz is saying really? seriously? We were stolen from a country to come here and be beaten separated from our familes and basically treated like property raped breeded like animals and killed. Is is possible that this man could be this ignorant? Lord help us please.

  11. Clearly, Uncle Ben needs a HISTORY lesson!!!!
    Immigrants who came to this damn country were FREE-
    SLAVES WERE NOT FREE-THEY WERE HELD IN BONDAGE BY THEIR WHITE MASTERS!!!!!!!!

      • Sarah on said:

        Obama did NOT try or misspoke about the issue as if he was trying to “normalize” slavery. I can talk about child abuse to show the harms of what it does BUT if someone speak about child abuse as in a way as if it is “normal”, there will be outrage over it. it is call “articulating”.

  12. Before Ben Carson speaks on subjects he apparently has little knowledge of, he needs to do some studying. Read a few books. I’ve got a few he can borrow. Africans were stolen, and brought here in the hauls of ships and only became slaves after we got here. It’s almost embarrassing that he opened his mouth to spree falsehoods. (Alternate facts). I hope he reads some of these remarks and wakes up.

  13. Arthur Childress on said:

    Carson is a complete fool! His ignorance is embarrassing even nauseating. He is the perfect example of Trumps Negro supporters. It wouldn’t surprise me if this boot-lickin buffoon came out and said slave plantations were the first HBCUs such is his mentality!

  14. Really on said:

    How can all these people in the trump cabinet be so ignorant there are a bunch or ignorant racists whites and Ben Carson. So sad.

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