“There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, who 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,” said the retired neurosurgeon, who was confirmed to lead the department last week.
The 69-year-old actor posted an expletive-laden message on Twitter in response to the comparison, writing in part, “OK!! Ben Carson …. I can’t! Immigrants ? In the bottom of SLAVE SHIPS??!!”
At the Los Angeles premiere of Kong: Skull Island, the actor called for Carson to leave his job if he can’t see the issue with his remarks.
“It strikes me as misguided, and, more than anything, for a person that is supposed to be as smart as he is, it smacks of ignorance,” Jackson told reporters. “If you cannot proofread something and see for yourself that there is something wrong with this, then you really don’t need to be where you are, and you should probably do us all a favor and resign and go off into obscurity.”
During his visit to The Late Late Show on Wednesday, Jackson elaborated on his tweet after host James Corden quipped it was “one of the best tweets I’ve ever seen.”
Jackson said that although his publicist sometimes discourages him from commenting on issues, he was given the green light to speak out on Carson’s comments.
The actor said, “You got a guy talking about, you know, slaves were immigrants and they’re in the bottom of the ship chained up. And he starts talking about hopes and dreams when they get to this country and living a better life. What the f— are you talking about?”
Carson later took to Facebook to clarify his statements, although he did not offer an apology.
“The slave narrative and immigrant narrative are two entirely different experiences,” he wrote. “Slaves were ripped from their families and their homes and against their will after being sold into slavery by slave traders.”
He expanded on his comments later on SiriusXM’s Armstrong Williams Show.
“I think people need to actually look up the word immigrant,” he said. “Whether you’re voluntary or involuntary, if you come from outside to the inside, you’re an immigrant … slaves came here as involuntary immigrants. But they still had the strength to hold on.”
This is not the first time Carson has made a reference to slavery in public comments.