Actor Samuel L. Jackson took to Twitter to express his outrage over comments made by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson regarding slaves coming to the United States as immigrants.
“OK!! Ben Carson….I can’t! Immigrants?” the star tweeted. “In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!! MUTHAF***** PLEASE!!!”
The outrage came after Carson gave a speech to HUD staff and described immigrants coming to the United States to “pursue prosperity” and included African slaves as part of that group.
“That’s what America is about, a land of dreams and opportunity,” Carson said in the HUD speech, according to the New York Times. “There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters, might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”
Carson was roundly criticized as a video clip of the speech went viral. And Jackson wasn’t the only Hollywood celebrity to criticize Carson on Twitter.
Actor Jeffrey Wright tweeted that Carson’s past as an illustrious brain surgeon doesn’t impress him when it comes to the HUD Secretary’s recent remarks.
“Don’t care what he once did,” Wright wrote. “I wouldn’t trust Ben Carson to operate on a crawfish head. ‘Get out the kitchen, Ben. Step back from the pot.'”
Comedian, actor, and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg also blasted Carson.
“Ben Carson..please read or watch Roots, most immigrants come here VOLUNTARILY,can’t really say the same about the slaves..they were stolen,” she wrote.
Carson, who was easily confirmed as HUD Secretary with several Democrats approving of his nomination, later took to Facebook to clarify his comments.
“I’m proud of the courage and perseverance of Black Americans and their incomprehensible struggle from slavery to freedom. I’m proud that our ancestors overcame the evil and repression that we know as slavery,” Carson wrote. “The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences. Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and forced against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.”
He added: “The Immigrants made the choice to come to America. They saw this country as a land of opportunity. In contrast, slaves were forced here against their will and lost all their opportunities. We continue to live with that legacy. The two experiences should never be intertwined, nor forgotten, as we demand the necessary progress towards an America that’s inclusive and provides access to equal opportunity for all.”