The willful ignorance of the Trump administration was on full display this weekend when Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson appeared on CNN and suggested that there’s little to no systemic racism in the United States at present. Sure, black Americans are violently killed by police at a sharp rate, and sure, black Americans have lower rates of access to items like the basic health support that’s necessary to keep people alive when they’re ill — but Carson seemed ready to ignore the ramifications of all of these issues in the name of political expedience.
Asked about Trump retweeting a video attacking George Floyd's character & his other comments, HUD Secretary Ben Carson tells @jaketapper, "I believe you're going to be hearing from the president this week on this topic in some detail." He says to reserve judgment until then.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) June 7, 2020
Asked if he thought that systemic racism was a problem in law enforcement in the United States, Carson said:
‘I grew up at a time when there was real systemic racism. I remember, as an eighth grade student, I was the only black student, and I got the highest academic achievement, and the teacher got up and berated the other students that they weren’t trying hard enough because a black kid was number one. That kind of thing was not uncommon when I was growing up. That kind of thing is very uncommon now. Are there still racists around? Absolutely. There were yesterday, and there are today, and there will be tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t fight it, and this is an opportune time right now. People are concentrating on this.’
“I grew up at a time when there was real systemic racism,” Housing Secretary Ben Carson says. “We need to deal with some of the issues in the police departments, but it’s — this is an easy time to do it" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/ZAIFRMrkK2
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) June 7, 2020
Carson sounds like he has used his time around Trump and conservatives in general like some kind of shield from much of the actual reality of black American life outside the realm of high-dollar politics. Currently, black Americans still suffer from socially embedded racism like dramatically lower investment in their communities, weaker infrastructure, and more. Carson sounds like he wants to use one isolated example of a teacher no longer openly expressing racism in a classroom to suggest that all those other issues have faded or at least are fading.
The look on @jaketapper face after Ben Carson suggests that #NFL players taking a knee should just explain themselves better. What a pro Jake. Carson is a joke. #ColinKaepernick pic.twitter.com/jRbyS2A5VZ
— joan muise (@joanmuise) June 7, 2020
On the specific note of Black Lives Matter as a movement, Carson tried to undercut the group’s advocacy via pointing to other issues plaguing black Americans that Black Lives Matter supposedly ignores. Carson is completely wrong, however, in claiming that the movement ignores issues like the gun violence he noted that’s perpetrated within black communities. Activists also want to see the proliferation of guns reduced among the general population.
Ben Carson tells Jake Tapper he doesn't want to talk about Colin Powell. "I don't find it particularly useful to demonize other people." (Demonize?)
— Amanda Carpenter (@amandacarpenter) June 7, 2020
‘As far as Black Lives Matters is concerned, I hope that maybe this is the beginning of being concerned about the many young black men who will be killed in the streets of Chicago this weekend. We need to be just as concerned about them as we are about anybody else. And until we begin to manifest that kind of concern, I don’t think we are quite where we need to be.’
Trump’s HUD Secretary Ben Carson turns a question about #BlackLivesMatter into a lie about protesters not being concerned about black men killed in Chicago. Wrong. When black people kill other black people, they go to jail. When police kill black people, they usually don’t. pic.twitter.com/9IevLrFpEm
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 7, 2020
Where was Carson when over 1 million people overall turned out for the March for Our Lives demonstrations against gun violence around the U.S. in early 2018? His suggestion that people don’t care about intracommunity gun violence is wrong. Besides, the existence of other problems does not negate the fact that people are rightfully angry that the police officers who are supposed to be protecting communities from those problems are frequently only adding to the violence.
Ben Carson is completely killing me this morning. I expected. ‘nothing’ but got worse……w h e w yo
— Chuck D (@MrChuckD) June 7, 2020