Dr. Ben Carson Broke My Heart

An Open Letter to Dr. Ben Carson

Dear Dr. Ben Carson,

You gave me that feeling again. The feeling where I have a lump in my throat. The feeling where my heart is in my stomach. The feeling that makes me want to hold my tears until the next shower where I can let them out, without anyone seeing. The feeling where my utter outrage is only surpassed by sadness and pain. The feeling where I can’t believe we are here, again. The same feeling when I researched what exactly happened in Ferguson, Missouri. The same feeling when I found out why two police officers got murdered in New York City as retaliation. The feeling of sympathy for those who have been wronged, while having the feeling of anger toward the violent protesters who only affirm what the evil doers already assume. Dr. Ben Carson, you have given me that feeling again when you endorsed Donald Trump.

It was less than 8 years ago when my African-American father called me in tears when it looked like Barack Obama was going to win the election. He was reminded about Dr. King and the peaceful way he moved the country forward toward tolerance and acceptance. It was surreal at best. I could hear the vindication in my Caucasian mother’s voice. This was the point where regardless of policy, which is what elections should really be about, an African-American man was the president of the United States of America. I felt I was an accepted member of society, finally. Before Obama was elected, it mattered very little that I was not a criminal or that I have an MBA degree from UC Berkeley or that I work for a Tech company. The only thing that mattered for a first impression was the color of my skin. I can tell by the way they talk to me and their body language. My first job out of college I had to work very hard to be promoted quickly. Even then I had a colleague tell me to my face it was just affirmative-action that got me here, not the fact I had a better degree than he did or that I crushed my performance metrics compared to all others.

Being racially profiled didn’t bother me then and it doesn’t bother me now. I have dealt with it my whole life. I grew up in a mildly affluent area, even though we were not affluent, in California where in a high class of 300 kids I was one of three African-Americans kids, and two of us were mixed. I have been stopped by the police and not given a ticket or arrested more times than I care to indulge. I actually don’t blame them at all, a lot of the people that caused trouble in the different areas I have lived in looked like me. It is a delicate line they have to deal with. Yes, there are some bad cultures that come from it, but I think the best way to stop it is by having a better options than crime for the economically oppressed African-Americans. It is the same way that I don’t blame all racists for the hate they feel. Some racist people are plainly just uninformed of facts, were raised to believe certain truths, and honestly don’t know any better. But let me be clear there is a large gap between being uneducated on truths and willfully ignorant. My point being, getting angry at racist or racism doesn’t help move anything forward. I still have love for those who hate me even though they have never met me, I just saddens my heart.

Not only did we had an African-American president, but he was elected twice. While I didn’t particularly like his policies, I was happy there had been major progress in our country. I agree with so many who that think the best way to fix racism is stop talking about it. Can we stop creating an US vs THEM mentality? Can we switch “Black History Month” to be “American History Month”? I don’t see myself as black, I see myself as an American trying to live out the dream of leaving my family in a better position than when I was born. And maybe, just maybe, racism would slowly dissipate as the younger generation is much more tolerant than the older generation. While I typically do not speak about race to anyone I know and never publicly (I am even writing this under a pseudonym because I am afraid of what it could do to my career), but the last 18 months have been too much for me. It was all culminated with your endorsement of Mr. Trump, Dr. Ben Carson. About 18 months ago when Michael Brown was shot in Missouri, it brought the countries attention to issues that still lingered about race. There were riots in the streets, and there was that feeling: the lump in my throat, heart in my stomach, wanting to cry every morning in the shower, disbelief in the heinous crime, sympathy for the victims, anger at the violent protesters, frustration at the realization my future children will have to face this, fear that my Caucasian soon-to-be wife will be judged when her only fault is being in love with me. I felt as though we took one major leap back with this incident and the many that have continued to happen ever since.

Dr. Ben Carson, when you took up running for office I was fully intrigued. You were an African-Americans man running in the Republican Party. While Abraham Lincoln was a Republican who signed the emancipation proclamation (as Paul Ryan conveniently points out, which is so riddled with irony I won’t even go into it), the party was the progressive party then, a stark difference from today. The movement of African-Americans from the GOP to the democratic party started over 100 years ago and was capped by the violence against African-Americans who tried to cast votes in Mississippi during the Freedom Summer in 1964.

Ever since then the Tea Party has been almost synonymous with social and fiscal conservatism with a light hint of racism. Dr. Ben Carson, even though I disagree with many of your policy stances, would have never voted for you and thought you were underwhelmingly unqualified, it still gave me hope for acceptance with my staunch conservative brethren. I myself am incredibly fiscally conservative. I hope to very soon be one of the extremely wealthy Bernie Sanders wants to tax more. Why should I be punished for working hard and sacrificing a lot to get to the top percent of wealth? Why should my family be punished for helping me to get here only to have it cost extra taxes? While I think that we do need to give better options for those who are economically oppressed, I don’t think handouts and taxing the wealthy are the right ways to do it. We will be a lot better as a country if we can figure out how to teach people to fish, instead of giving them fish. I didn’t complain about the cards that I have been dealt, I learned how to play poker.

Every election, because we have a very inappropriate two party electorate system, I have to decide between my social liberal views, where I am pro-life, pro-gay marriage, pro-legalization of marijuana and gun reform (I love guns we just need to regulate them better) or between conservative fiscal policy I believe is actually better for the economy. Typically, the republican social views are so far right wing that it scares me to vote for one, but now you were running, Dr. Ben Carson. I thought maybe, just maybe we had hope to bring the social issues just a little closer to the middle.

Then came Mr. Trump who has polarized this country. Dr. Ben Carson, you need to know what Mr. Trump and his supports stand for. Mr. Trump has justified a sucker punch from Caucasian man on African-American protester at one of his rallies. The man has been charged with assault and publicly said he wants to kill the African-American man. Donald Trump is even looking into paying for his legal fees, his exact words.

When a reporter caught Mr. Trump off guard, mentioned the KKK supporting him, and point blank asked if he would unequivocally condemn white supremacy groups, Donald Trump did not say yes. He goes on to claim he does not know who David Duke is, which is not true. Mr. Trump has acknowledged him by name in multiple interviews in 2000.

An African-American activist was kicked and punched by voters at a Donald Trump rally in Alabama. A day after that Mr. Trump tweeted a (since deleted) picture that highlighted incorrect statistics that “81% of whites are killed by blacks and 16% whites killed by whites”. The real numbers according to the FBI statistics are the complete opposite, 15% and 87% respectively. These are just a few examples of how he feels about African-Americans.

While Mr. Trump is gaining steam with a select group of Republicans, it still brought me joy that you were there, Dr. Ben Carson, to go face to face with him and stand against his racist rhetoric. You were representing the millions who face the fight every day. AND THEN YOU BROKE MY HEART! You became just like many of the other national African-American figures who blatantly disregarded your responsibility to me, to Dr. King and to rest of the African-American community for his or her own personal gain. Even though you are on the other side now, you are just as bad as Jesse Jackson. You are now both in the same category, the group exploits racial situations for his or her own personal fame and wealth under the cloud of fight for the right thing. I know you have your reasons deep down and I am positive the idea must have come directly from one of your advisors, but you still broke my heart. You gave me that feeling again. Dr. Ben Carson, when you endorsed Mr. Trump, we took two steps back, but not as African-Americans, as Americans. I still cry in the shower.

Clark B Kenton