Throwback Thursday: an Unpublished Post

An Open Letter to Ben Carson from a member of “The Black Delegation”

I am writing this letter knowing good and well that it will never reach your desk. This is more so for the rest of the world — especially the black community.

I remember being in high school watching the movie about your life. That movie made me believe two things: Cuba Gooding, Jr. may actually know how to act, and that I just may be able to overcome all odds and change the world. Unfortunately, only one of those things remain true today. That one thing is that Cuba Gooding, Jr. may have redeemed himself from that awful Disney movie proving that he can act.

But you sir, are the one person that the black community is confused and heartbroken about — only topping Lil’ Kim and Kanye. When you stepped up and ran as a republican in the presidential race, a few eyebrows raised but we still supported you. Some of us were a little confused on how you could run on that platform, but we let it go because of the amazing things you had accomplished. Especially for the barriers that you broke down in the world of neurosurgery for black men and women. Then you opened your mouth, and out flowed words that alluded to your genius being rooted in books but not outside of that. So we still reflected back to that time you separated those twins who were attached by the head.

You dropped out of the race, and the entire black community breathed a collective sigh of relief. We thought for sure you would ride off into the sunset with your legacy intact. Little did we know, that was the farthest thing from the truth.. Here it is 2017 and you are the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) appointed by Trump. I know I am speaking for most of Americans when I say that we were perplexed. But we were still holding out a slight sliver of hope, that maybe, just maybe your hands once again could be “gifted” and you would carry HUD to the next level.

Then once again, you opened your mouth and any respectable person, at least black person, has probably used your books as the logs for their camp fires (I would say fireplaces, but because of global warming very few states have experienced a true winter. But that is a topic for another letter). Ben, yes, I am going to lose all titles when addressing you because you have lost that privilege, you got on stage at your first appearance as Secretary of HUD and you said the unthinkable. You said things we expected to hear white people when they tried to re-write history to ease their conscious. You said that Africans taken from their countries against their will were immigrants on the bottom of slave ships coming to a new land to fulfill their dreams. I was hoping that when I read this, that this was some fake news story misusing your words. My hopes were dashed when I saw the video.

As my jaw hit my desk, I slowly began to get angry. I became livid thinking about everything. All of the things we let slide. And it didn’t make it any better that you tried to fix it the following day by saying something along the lines of “involuntary immigrants.”

Do you want to know why this is truly disgusting Uncle Ben? We expect the white community to use us, but not our own. But that is what you did. Yes, you are brilliant and talented and have a strong work ethic, but even in your book and the movie that was based on your life there was a common thread running through that story. The thread that held it all together was the fact that you were a black man walking through doors that once barred black people entering. You gave young black boys a reason to stick out their chest with pride. You gave them hope that they could shine in places that they once weren’t even allowed in. You knew what you were doing. You knew that the black community would always welcome you with open arms.

See, when black people achieve success on the level you have, they are often accused of forgetting where they came from. I have never truly seen it happen until you. (Well maybe Kanye but that’s a topic for another letter) The scariest part is not that you forgot that you were a black man who came from Detroit, but that you stepped on our necks in the process. You set the rest of us back by a good four hundred years.

I don’t think you will ever fully understand the gravity of the words you spoke. Black people across this country have been trying to recover from slavery, or in your words “involuntary immigration.” We are still trying to catch up in this race called “the American dream.” It has been less than seventy-five years since the Civil Rights movement, and you all but forgot people who look like you (and me) were not allowed to be in roles such as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. We would not have been allowed to work in those roles because the discrimination based on the color of our skin was legal.

Mr. Carson, you no longer get to claim that you are one of us. You never were one of us. You cannot come to anymore family cookouts and definitely do not try to come home for Thanksgiving. The community that made you, rejects your rejection. In other words, Ben, You’re Fired!


Joy Woods

The Black Delegation

P.S. We are trading you for Gary Owen and Adele.