Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) took new Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to task Tuesday for his recent comments comparing immigration to the African slave trade.
Carson came under fire after declaring Monday during comments to HUD employees that “there were other immigrants who came in the bottom of slave ships, who worked even longer, even harder, for less.”
In a statement issued Tuesday, Conyers said the concepts of “choice” and “agency” appear lost on some members of the Trump administration.
“First, it was Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ insulting statement on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and now, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, epically fails to address the impact of slavery and discrimination on the history and lives of African-Americans,” Conyers said.
“Enslaved Africans did not choose to come to the Americas, they were brought here in chains against their will and once here, fought for freedom despite tremendous odds,” the Michigan congressman said. “The failure of Trump administration officials to recognize and acknowledge these very real facts shows a profound ignorance and lack of respect for the Black American experience.”
Amid the intense backlash, Carson took to his Facebook page to clarify his remarks.
“The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences,” Carson said. “Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.”