US Housing and Urban Secretary Ben Carson (AP file photo)
US Housing and Urban Secretary Ben Carson has come under fire for stating that African slaves, who were taken to America against their will, were in fact “immigrants.”
Speaking to the department staff on his first full day in office, Carson said Monday that America was “a land of dreams and opportunities” for everyone, even the “immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships” and “worked even longer, even harder for less.”
“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,” he added.
But facing overwhelming criticism, the former neurosurgeon doubled down on his remarks later in the day, calling slaves “involuntary immigrants.”
In a scolding rebuke, Steve Goldstein, head of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, described Carson’s remarks as “tragic, shocking and unacceptable.”
“No, Secretary Carson! Slaves didn't immigrate to America. They were brought here violently, against their own will, and lived here without freedom,” Goldstein said, noting that Carson is not allowed to alter history just because he is African American.
Well-documented sources have all shown that enslaved Africans were chained up and put in cramped and disease-infested slave ships destined to the “new world.”
A slave family working at a cotton farm. (Photo by Getty Images)
Many of the tens of millions of slaves, who were forcefully moved to the US, died because of the inhumane conditions and those who made it to the US shore were subjected to the most brutal exploitation by their white “masters.”
According to historian Lawrence M. Friedman, some states had defined laws to prevent the mistreatment of slaves, but slave owners were seldom prosecuted.
In Louisiana, for example, if a master was “convicted of cruel treatment,” the mistreated slave would be sold to a “presumably” better master.
Four generations of a slave family living on a plantation in South Carolina, 1862.
Despite former US President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1862, the discrimination against African Americans remained largely in place until the 1960s, when people like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X led popular rights movements to end the trend. They both were assassinated.
Many African Americans continue to complain of mistreatment by law enforcement agencies, a problem that escalated under Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.
The issue was one of the hottest debate points during last year’s presidential campaign as well.
Carson’s statements are expected to cause more trouble for the Trump administration, which is already under fire for its crackdown on immigration.

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