On March 7, 2017 Dr. Ben Carson the head of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration gave his commencement speech on his first day on the job. In this speech he equated slavery to immigration when he said, “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships for even longer for even harder for less, but they too had a dream.” This of course drew widespread criticism from the American public, most famously a tweet from actor Samuel L. Jackson:
Despite what Texas and Alabama public schools and Bill O’Reilly would have us think, the slaves bought, transported, and sold in America through the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were not immigrants. They were purchased and used as property as a part of a hideous and shameful institution of American history. The next day Carson went on a talk show to try to defend his statement by saying that “whether voluntary or involuntary anyone who comes from ‘out’ to ‘in’ is an immigrant.” This, of course, is not true in many different ways. First that would liken people sold and transported via human trafficking to immigrants. They are not immigrants; they are abducted and most of the time sold as sex slaves or prostitutes to those willing to buy them – with many purchasers being American citizens. Secondly, at that point in time, the slaves being bought and sold in America were not considered people but property and property cannot immigrate.
Unfortunately this is a reflection of how some citizens are viewed within this administration and whether the intent of the wording was willfully malicious or not this is one more glimpsing of the racism in America that our elected officials tells us does not exist any longer – or never existed, depending on certain factions within a certain party. This is yet another example of the Trump administration selling the governmental structure of the United States to individuals who donated money to his presidential campaign, even when those people are woefully incompetent and unqualified to be in the position they find themselves appointed to.