Ben Carson: What Could've Been

What if I told you there was once a kid from Detroit who grew up to become one of the most gifted neurosurgeons the world has ever seen? And that he was black? That he was raised by a single mother? Hell of a story, right? You’d probably think he’d be one of the pillars of inspiration for little black girls and boys. You know, the living embodiment of, “You can do whatever you set your mind to” -type of inspirational figure.

I remember there was a time in my life where I looked at Dr. Ben Carson with admiration. It was possible that at that time I was merely young and didn't really know what the man stands for today. But I’ve always known how he got to be in his current position. It was the ultimate rags to riches story that would inspire any first generation [black] college student - an example of how to use schooling to change one’s socioeconomic situation. It was inspiring because he looked like me and we shared similar upbringings.

I believe Benjamin Solomon Carson is a special individual, for all the reasons listed above. But now I look at the figure highlighted in Gifted Hands and I shake my head. What a shame.

He had the opportunity to live his life as a beacon for so many young black boys and girls. He could've been the great inspiration for children who don't think they can - the ones who are born into poverty; raised in financially challenged neighborhoods; go to underfunded, overcrowded schools; whose parents knew no better, because they too were raised in similar environments. Or like my mother, these parents migrated to this strange place, with it’s strange rules, and it’s different way of life that is a stark contrast to anything they were used to -- this makes it even more difficult to instruct their kids on how to seek out success...because they too (the parents) are figuring out how to live and survive here as well.

Instead, Dr. Carson appears to not only take the position of if I did it on my own, why can't you?, but at times he seems to completely turn his back on the very people who might just be more inclined to view him as a shining example of the American Dream:

  • Remember when he referred to the African Slaves as Immigrants?

  • Or when, in an attempt to prove that he does in fact belong in the Republican Party, he claimed that Obamacare was the worst thing since 9/11?

  • And most recently, in his position as Head of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -- a position he is clearly unqualified for, and in which my best bet is his selection process went something like, “Hey, anyone know a black guy?” -- where in a trip to Columbus, Ohio he stated that he doesn’t want to make affordable housing “too cozy.”

Every time I see him on TV or in the news I find myself shaking my head. What could’ve been. To see such a great mind, a potentially great man, diminish himself by demeaning the very people who have the most in common with him.

It’s time Dr. Carson realizes how much he means to the black community and start leading, instead of falling in line with the crowd who merely gives him a voice because he tries to legitimize their bullshit.