A meeting of the minds

The Mind-Meld That Changed Carson’s Black Excellence

The damage is done and deep

There’s no doubt Ben Carson as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development is harmful. The new rules coming out of HUD are nothing but cruel. Carson is a token and a tool put in his place to do damage.

Besides those devastating facts, he’s incompetent as the secretary of HUD. He doesn’t know basic real estate terms. He doesn’t know the functions of his agency. He has no background or expertise in housing. Altogether, there’s no underestimating the harms Carson does at HUD.

Like many in the Trump administration, Carson is wholly unqualified for his position. It’s not a shock that associating with Trump ruins, or further wrecks, reputations. But with Carson, the damage is deeper.

Carson reflects a work of White America on Black America.

Carson is an intelligent man. He’s a graduate of Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School. He wrote several books and more than a hundred publications. Carson was a talented and celebrated surgeon crowned with many high honors. Prior to his politics and his time in the Trump administration, Carson represented Black excellence to many.

However, with his politics and his role in government, his Black excellence has changed. It’s been diminished, and it’s lost its value for many Black people.

Now Carson is a smart Black man who looks like no one is home. Now Carson is a smart Black man who doesn’t know the basics of a bad job. Now Carson is an accomplished Black man who can’t express himself coherently.

That’s not to say Carson reflects on Black America. Carson reflects a work of white America on Black America. It’s a physical and psychological work that’s damaging and recurring.

It’s the damage white America does to the life, legacy, and meaning of Dr. King by taking his quotes out of context, minimizing his militancy, and using them against Black people. It’s the damage white America does when it appropriates Black culture, mocks Black people, and uses Black culture for white purposes and profits.

Trump has appropriated Carson for white purposes. One white purpose is to reduce and ruin Black excellence. The world saw Trump attempt to do that when the Queen of Soul died and he said, “she worked for me.”

Trump’s assault on Black excellence is instinctive and planned. There’s no doubt Trump tapped Carson because Carson is loyal and Black. To complete the change on Carson, Trump had half the mind, and Carson had the other.

On Carson’s side, no one can deny he’s a shameless and willing participant to his reputational demise. Carson deserves blame too for his fallen name. Carson chose to be a Fox News analyst. Carson chose to say what he said. He chose to run for president as a Republican, and he chose to accept his current assignment.

But his current assignment matters because it fulfilled a mission. Carson’s complicity and volition do not negate the mission. In Carson’s current assignment, Trump’s work continues but for Carson, it’s done.

In 2018, one school in Detroit named after Carson voted to remove his name. A school board member said Carson’s name on the school was like having Trump’s name on the school in blackface. Beyond Detroit, more people share that sentiment about Carson. One school in Baltimore took his photo off a wall. Wouldn’t Trump love for that to happen to Obama?

For people who grew up esteeming Carson, now there’s a sense of betrayal and being tricked. It’s not the level of betrayal and disgust that comes from Bill Cosby or Michael Jackson. But for many, Carson is another fallen hero from childhood.

This isn’t about pity for Carson, it’s about the point of Carson. There’s a little white hand at work with Carson. Carson exemplifies the typical tactic of white supremacy to take Black excellence out of context, tarnish it, and use it against Black people.

Trump’s work on Carson isn’t the same strategy he uses against Obama. It’s not the strategy of tweets and lies about Carson. It’s not the strategy of questioning Carson’s birthplace and citizenship. It’s the strategy of giving Carson a place that automatically calls Carson’s competence into question.

Carson’s politics and his connection with Trump securely isolate Carson’s genius to one area. The lonely position of such brilliance evokes the disdain that sounds like, “Shut up and dribble.” It’s twisted, but it’s not pointless. With Carson’s former reputation eclipsed and disregarded, it’s tantamount to a prolonged scandal.

What Trump did to Carson may have been unintentional on Trump’s part. But it’s still a byproduct of a political strategy that’s anti-Black. Carson isn’t a coincidence, and as the nominating boss, Trump shares Carson’s blame too.

In Carson, Trump has already succeeded at what he could only hope to do to Obama. Trump has wrecked the accomplishments and the legacy of a gifted and respected Black man, and he’s replaced those Black accomplishments with white-supremacist ones.

Carson is also a warning. He’s a call to celebrate Black mediocrity too. Every day, everyday Blackness has value. The mindset that only praises and promotes Blackness when it’s extraordinary or excellent is a mindset to eschew.

Now with Carson, there are two minds about him. One mind is his former profession; the other mind is his politics. One mind is an intelligent man; the other mind is an inept man. One mind is a Black man respected by his community; the other mind is a Black man repulsive to his community. The combined nature of Carson is human but hideous.

Those are two minds Carson can’t split. And with his connection to Trump, Trump has at least helped to make those minds stick.


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