Ever since Donald Trump
made the announcement of his pick for Secretary of the Department of Housing
and Urban Development, there has been debate surrounding whether or not Ben
Carson has the qualifications to take on such a position; a position previously
held by Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas. So what exactly are the qualifications to be
the head of HUD? Is it your experience living in subsidized housing? Or maybe
it’s just your mere ability to connect with people. These two things are exactly
what makes Ben Carson qualified, at least to his longtime advisor and friend,
Ben Carson pioneered the
first successful neurosurgical procedure on a fetus inside the womb, developed
new methods to treat brain-stem tumors, and became the youngest chief of
pediatric neurosurgery in the country at age 33.
Although all great accomplishments, none of these aforementioned events make
him qualified to run a government department designed to develop and execute
policies on housing. As Armstrong Williams stated, it’s the fact that Ben
Carson grew up in subsidized housing and has never been disconnected from the
people who live that lifestyle.
In 2013, Ben Carson was quoted as saying, “having grown
up in dire poverty, the thing that I hated the most in life was poverty. I just
hated poverty. But as I began to read those books, particularly about people's
accomplishments, I began to realize that poverty was really more of a choice
than anything else and that I could change that. And it really just depended on
how hard I wanted to work”.
It is hard to imagine how a person with such a narrow mindset can have a
positive impact on an agency that provides affordable housing and rental
assistance to low income families; families who have not chosen to be in
poverty, but rather have circumstances that won’t allow them to be in any other
position. Once again convoluting the difference between choices and
circumstances, this year, Ben Carson referred to slaves as immigrants.
Following Ben Carson’s line of thinking, this rhetoric suggests that there was
never an issue between slave owners and their slaves. Why would there be? The
people on the bottom of the slave ships chose to be there. You cannot run an
agency that seeks to reduce long standing histories of residential segregation,
and not understand the very premise from which that segregation comes from. This
entire notion disconnects Ben Carson from African Americans, a group of people
that make up 48% of the people in public housing.
Ben Carson does not understand the people living
in subsidized housing, nor the reason why we need or have subsidized housing in
the first place. His purported qualifications are devalued by his own rhetoric
and I can’t help but be nervous for the future of HUD.