An open letter to Dr. Ben Carson
Dear Dr. Carson,
This is an open letter to you of serious inquiry and disappointment. I first learned about you when I was 8 years old. My mother, who, like yours, always encouraged my sister and I to read, had just purchased a new book of stories for me. This was my very first book from the Chicken Soup for the Soul collection, and this one was Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul. I don’t know if you remember the story that you submitted, but I do. In it, you talked about how your mom would force you and your brother to do book reports every summer. I related to you because I, too, have a mother who only wants me to reach my highest potential, and was constantly pushing me to do so. At the end of the story, you thanked your mom for pushing you and inspiring your love of books, knowledge, and reading. After reading your story, I asked my mom about you. She told me that you were “the man with the gifted hands,” and that people called you that because you had completed the first successful separation of the Binder twins, who were conjoined at the head.
I was blown away!
A Black neurosurgeon! Wow! From then on, you became one of my heroes. When I eventually learned the story of your life, I became even more awed by the circumstances you were handed and the determination instilled in you that allowed you to overcome many obstacles. Even as I grew older, my admiration for you never waned. You inspired me to pursue my own education and focus on the medical field. Thank you for that.
Nevertheless, I think that all kids learn that their heroes aren’t infallible. This past year has shown me that my hero wasn’t free from fallacies either. In the past month, you announced your candidacy for president of the United States of America. It is with a disappointed heart that I announce that I will not be voting for you, Dr. Carson. While some people may vote for you simply because you’re Black, I am not one of them. You have made it abundantly clear that you are absolutely NOT the second coming of President Barack Obama. And that’s fine, but what isn’t is how severely disconnected you are from your roots. Though I’ve never had the opportunity to meet you in person, I have done my research. You grew up in a single-parent home after your parents divorced. Your mother, who was illiterate, worked hard cleaning houses so that you and your brother could be elevated and take advantage of opportunities to better your lives. Did you forget that? Did you forget how hard it was? Looking back, do you not understand what affordable healthcare would’ve done for her life? Would you have wanted the government to control what she did with her body? How about the way that she spent her allotted food stamp allowance? What about you? What if society had just written you off as another angry black man? Because as stated in your book, Gifted Hands, you had the quite the violent temper. Did you forget all the sideways glances and challenges you faced, despite your skills, because you were “the Black” neurosurgeon? The “black kid,” who couldn’t spell as well as his other classmates? When did you forget where you came from? And better yet, how you got to where you are now?
Just my two cents,
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