Here's what's wrong with Ben Carson's claims that racial equity is "another kind of racism"
New York, New York – Ben Carson, ex-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Donald Trump, has argued that the push for racial equity is, in fact, racist.
Carson (69) recently wrote a controversial op-ed for the Washington Post, in which he claimed, "Moving our focus from equality to equity won’t defeat racism. It’s another kind of racism."
"Proponents of equity see no problem with treating groups of people differently based solely on race, as long as it serves their agenda. This is what we used to call racism, and those not blinded by identity politics still recognize it as such," the Republican continued.
The two terms sound quite similar but actually have fundamental differences. Equality means all people receive the same resources and opportunities. Equity, on the other hand, recognizes that not all people start from the same baseline in life and allocates resources and opportunities to different degrees as a means of leveling the playing field.
After generations of slavery, discrimination, predatory policing, and denial of resources, the vast majority of Black Americans are certainly not starting off on equal footing.
Only affording them the same resources and opportunities as white citizens won't address the huge racial wealth gap that exists in America.
Nevertheless, Carson said that focusing on equity is reducing people to their physical appearance. "That's what animals do," he insisted.
Carson tries to twist MLK's words to fit his confused claims
Carson even invoked civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. when he appeared on Fox News on Wednesday to clarify his statements, The Hill reported.
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spent a lot of time trying to get people to not look at external characteristics which they cannot change, in which they cannot help, and instead to look at the things that you can change and the things that you can help, such as your character. What kind of person are you? Shouldn't we be paying more attention to that than to external characteristics?" he said.
Referencing MLK to make this point is ironic, as the civil rights activist was a vocal supporter of full-scale economic reforms.
"You can’t talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars," he once argued. "You can’t talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You’re really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry."
His speech, given in 1966 to staff members, continued: "Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."
These views certainly do not align with those of the conservative Republican, who had a net worth of $20 million in 2019, Forbes reported.
Individual solutions to systemic problems
Instead, Carson placed the onus of overcoming centuries of discrimination on the individual victims of that system: "Rather than teach our children that they are victims of a racist system in which they can only be made whole by making people who have done nothing wrong pay for the past sins of others, we should teach them that they are in charge of their own dignity and their own future."
The former presidential hopeful seems to have missed the mark entirely, as racial equity has nothing to do with making everyday people pay for past evils. It just means that institutions with a history of disadvantaging certain groups take stock of that history and come up with proactive measures to right those wrongs.
It's no surprise Ben Carson is confused. After all, he is still promoting hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to fight malaria, as a Covid-19 treatment, even though the option has long since been dismissed as both ineffective and potentially dangerous.
Cover photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire