What is an immigrant?
im·mi·grant /ˈiməɡrənt/ noun a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country.
Imagine for a moment you are taken away from the land of your birth, and all that you love, thrown in the bottom of a ship packed tight with other bodies, and forced to work the rest of your life away in another land. Are you an immigrant?
What if I told you the scene I described was the lot of an Irish or Scottish political prisoner forcibly relocated to North America? Are they immigrants?
Ben Carson’s recent comments referring to slaves as immigrants started a firestorm on social media because most people didn’t take the time to listen to what he said. He is not wrong that African Americans slaves were immigrants to America. EVERYONE’S ancestors came to this continent from somewhere else. Even Native American’s ancestors came across the Bering Sea. At no time did Dr. Carson indicate slaves were willing immigrants. He was trying to convey how far people whose ancestors were slaves have come. Yet the legion of professionally offended people in this country chose not to hear that.
I wonder if that speech had been delivered by Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson if people would be so agitated? I find it sad that so many African Americans want to pick apart anything conservative black people say, to find something to ridicule.
I will concede Dr. Carson has said some silly things, but he has done nothing that deserves this kind of venom. Perhaps Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. should have included in his “I Have A Dream” speech that judging people by the content of their character included African Americans treating each other with respect.
While maybe not the most well-spoken man, Dr. Ben Carson is someone the African American community should be praising. He is proof that skin color does not have to be a barrier to doing amazing things. In his work as a pediatric neurosurgeon, he helped thousands of children have better lives. Why are people so quick to demonize him? Just because he isn’t a Democrat?
Some may say that being white, I can’t understand this issue. Yet many people retweeted Chelsea Clinton’s pandering tweet about this event. Last I checked she is extremely white.
What I can understand is there are many very admirable African Americans who are vilified if they don’t toe some unspoken line. There was a lot of spite directed at General Colin Powell and Dr. Condoleezza Rice when they took positions on President George W. Bush’s National Security team. He was previously the highest ranking African American in the military ever, and she was the first African American to run Stanford University. Instead of praising very accomplished African Americans and celebrating the heights they achieved, they were ridiculed. I remember them even being referred to as “House n*****s”. Why? Because they didn’t spout the party rhetoric? When Russell Wilson led the Seahawks to their Super Bowl victory, stories started coming out that he was not “black enough“. How is one “black enough”, and why should it even matter?
I have long been a proponent of equality for everyone, regardless of your skin or your gender or even who you have amorous feelings for, and I think most people in this country feel that way too. Sadly African Americans are often their own worst enemy. They need to stop bashing the best and brightest among them, looking for offense where none exists. Is a definition of a word worth this kind of hate?
Shane Dean is a professional author and editor as well as an advocate for many worthy causes.