Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson talks to reporters after speaking at an event at Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2015.
Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Ben Carson calls #BlackLivesMatter a distraction


Dr. Ben Carson slammed the Black Lives Matter movement as a distraction on Monday, in an editorial that laid out the Republican presidential candidate’s civil rights agenda.

“The ‘BlackLivesMatter’ movement is focused on the wrong targets, to the detriment of black who would like to see real change,” the 2016 field’s only black presidential contender wrote in USA Today, calling the idea that the movement’s protests against Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders could bring change “lunacy.”

Carson’s presidential profile is on the rise: in the wake of the first GOP 2016 debate, he is polling in second place in Iowa and he recently attracted a massive crowd at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona. As the only black man in a presidential race where racial inequality is a hot topic, Carson has a unique voice, but it’s a fine line for a Republican candidate to walk.

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The Black Lives Matter movement was born in the aftermath of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and has consistently drawn attention to the stream of deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police. While Carson acknowledges that “racial policing issues exist and some rotten policemen took actions that killed innocent people,” he seems to signal that those issues will resolve themselves. The editorial reiterates his long-held belief that black people can overcome inequality through hard work and education – and takes the age-old argument that black people are solely responsible for the injustice they face – to the next level.

Carson argued that the racial profiling is not the real problem, positing instead that economic distress has created a generation of “hopeless” black Americans who aren’t employed and are destroying their own families through “self-inflicted wounds.” 

“The notion that some lives might matter less than others is meant to enrage. That anger is distracting us from what matters most. We’re right to be angry, but we have to stay smart,” he wrote.

Carson cited his own famous rags-to-riches story from the inner city of Detroit to an internationally renowned career as a pediatric neurosurgeon as inspiration for his own position that teacher’s unions, Hollywood, and inner city violence are among the true culprits of racial inequality.

Carson laid out a seven targets he argues should be lobbied for change: the board of education (for destroying “black lives not in the ones in two, but in whole generations”), the entertainment industry for promoting violence in movies like “Straight Outta Compton,” City Hall for unsafe communities, and unnamed crack houses for “selling poison to our children,” (though its unclear how he expects black people to combat this specific drug trade). He also takes Washington D.C. to task, calling out Democrats for fighting a war on poverty with public housing welfare programs, and Republicans for excluding them.