Why Ben Carson’s Statement About Poverty Enraged So Many
Ben Carson’s statement about poverty has ignited a firestorm. While it may not be easy for many, it is easy for me to understand why Ben Carson’s statement about poverty has garnered so much attention — leading to national outrage. I am not one to find myself caught up in the rush of emotion. I have spent years training myself to always respond to situations through the use of critical and rational thought, rather than reacting through emotion. So, when I hear statements from people who say that slaves were immigrants, or that poverty is a state of mind, I do not become frenetic and unglued.
I have been around long enough to understand that everything you hear is not what it appears to be, or even when it is exactly what it appears to be, it is never the end of the world. When it comes to Ben Carson’s latest statement, in which he says that “poverty is a state-of-mind,” I am not moved by the statement at all. I don’t even necessarily see the statement as being fallacious and disconnected. What does give me pause, causing me to look deep into what was meant, is the fact that it was Carson who, not too long ago, classified slaves as immigrants seeking a better way of life.
A statement like that is, at the very best, ignorant of historical facts, and at its worst, malevolent. It is possible that Carson made the statement out of ignorance, but more likely was an attempt to marginalize the plight of Blacks in the country, and the massive, negative impact that chattel slavery has had on the Black collective.
It is because of the former statement that the latter statement meets scrutiny in my eyes. Because at the very core, poverty is connected to a state of mind that produces perpetual behavior that serves to guarantee a position of poverty — regardless to the energy invested in escaping it.
Carson has created a persona in which he has assumed a role among the wealthy elite and the privileged, meaning that he has by the very nature of his success alienated most people who find themselves at or below the poverty line. He has chosen to identify with his success more than his origin, and that has definitely impacted his ability to empathize with those who battle poverty each and every day. It is this persona that disqualifies him from addressing poverty from a philosophical platform.
Blacks are not interested in the philosophies of the wealthy, although it would serve them well. Blacks want solutions to their existing problems, not philosophical evaluations of their reality. Here is where things become somewhat uncomfortable for many of my readers moving forward in the passage. The solutions that Blacks are looking for to help them engage the enigmatic issues associated with poverty, mis-education, mass incarceration, political impotence, and more, are encoded in the DNA of our inherent creativity. We are looking for others to provide solutions and mechanisms that we have the capacity to provide for ourselves.
It is not Ben Carson’s statement about poverty that is problematic. In fact, if poverty was not such a prevalent issue among the Black community, the words of Carson would not have stung the way that they did.
“When there is no enemy on the inside, the enemy on the outside can do us no harm.” ~ African Proverb
We spend far too much time whining and complaining about what others are doing, or not doing, and very little time gaining an understanding of how things work so that we can change them. We are exploited because of our ignorance of how things work. We are consistently assaulted, not because we are weak, but because we are unaware of the power we possess to change our situation. We are constantly creating our reality through the lenses of fear, inferiority and self-hatred. No, it is not the words of Ben Carson that we should be concerned with, but our own inactivity and complacency as far as developing a better understanding of how things work.
I recorded a YouTube video that addresses this issue in detail, you can watch it here, or you can view below. Also visit my YouTube Channel and subscribe so that you can keep up with all of the new content that I will be sharing moving forward. ~ Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.