Current Events

Why Ben Carson Got It Wrong

Earon James

During the first GOP presidential primary debate, Dr. Ben Carson faced the question of what he would do to heal the racial divide that currently exists in America. Dr. Carson responded by saying, “You know, I was asked by an NPR reporter once why I don’t talk about race that often. I said, ‘It’s because I’m a neurosurgeon.’ And she thought that was a strange response. I said, ‘You see, when I take someone to the operating room, I’m actually operating on the thing that makes them who they are. The skin does not make them who they are. The hair does not make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that because. . . our strength as a nation comes in our unity.’”

While his response drew a healthy applause from the audience, I felt a little disappointed. I know those who just want us to get over race issues will use Carson’s remarks as ammunition in the race relations discussion. I anticipate people responding like, “Look, one of your own just said we should move past it, so what’s the big deal?” I do not doubt Dr. Carson’s sincerity for a second, but his response was incomplete at best. Here is why:

Skin Colors and Hair Textures
The color of our skin and texture of our hair does matter, because every shade of skin and every hair texture displays the creative brilliance of almighty God. Our ethnic distinctions exist for the glory of God. We see in John’s glorious visions people from every nation, tribe, and language worshiping around the throne of God. These distinctions were God’s idea, and for the glory of his great name.

Trying to simply get past race denies the image of God reflected within ethnic diversity. Ethnic diversity is God’s design, and is a part of his great redemptive plan for humanity. If God is not trying to get rid of ethnic diversity, then why are we?

It is time we leave behind the false hopes of a colorblind utopia. Scripture tells a different narrative. God’s saving grace enables us to build healthy relationships, not by looking past ethnic distinctions but by dignifying them.

Being Colorblind is Not the Solution
I am afraid most of the advocates of the colorblind viewpoint are unwilling to delve into the tones of multi-ethnic life. The color of one’s skin is not a minor detail to be overlooked; it is a part of someone’s identity.

The idea of being colorblind assumes there can really be racial and cultural neutrality. This is not possible, because the majority will always set the rules for being colorblind. Therefore, what you end up with is being colorblind as the majority group sees it. Giving honor and esteeming others, because of their racial and cultural differences is a more plausible and better way.

True unity is not built when we are colorblind, but when we are color-conscious. It is when we see our differences, and learn to appreciate and even celebrate them. True unity is built when we learn to affirm cultural distinctions without the expectation that people should just assimilate into ours. True unity is built when we love and dignify one another without anyone checking their ethnicity at the door.

Can we build unity while being color-conscious, instead of trying to be colorblind?



9 thoughts on “Why Ben Carson Got It Wrong

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  2. John N

    On 9/11/15, during a press conference, Ben Carson corrected the errors of much of the progressive thinking here on RAAN with these words:

    “My beef with the Black Lives Matter movement has been, I think they need to add a word. And that word is ‘All.’ All Black Lives Matter,” said Carson. “Including the ones that are eradicated by abortions, including the ones that are eradicated on the streets every day by violence. We need to be looking at all the factors that have kept the black community in a very dependent position for decades.”

    More balance is needed here at RAAN regarding what is really wrong in culture as it affects the AA community, and the evangelical AA community in particular.

  3. Stephen Leonard

    As far as I can find, silence for seven years on Barack Obama, though you probably came into being since his election. But still plenty of time and reason to critique the philosophy and policy of the first Black President. Yet the first critique is how Ben Carson got it wrong. Is that a reformed critique or a progressive one. The church is in most need of a truly reformed view of culture and its characters. Not more progressive thought that clings to the failures in government care (uncare) for the AA community over the last 75 years or more. Carson makes more sense practically and theologically than your knock of him. I would hope for better in cultural critique out of an alleged reformed organization.

  4. William Portillo


    Dios creó al hombre a su imagen y semejanza y le plujo la diversidad. El dividió las lenguas en Génesis 11 para la gloria de su nombre de tal manera que en Pentecostés (Hechos 2:7, 8-11) podemos leer que los judíos dijeron: “Mirad, ¿no son galileos todos estos que hablan? ¿Cómo, pues, les oímos nosotros hablar cada uno en nuestra lengua en la que hemos nacido? Partos, medos, elamitas, y los que habitamos en Mesopotamia, en Judea, en Capadocia, en el Ponto y en Asia, en Frigia y Panfilia, en Egipto y en las regiones de Africa más allá de Cirene, y romanos aquí residentes, tanto judíos como prosélitos, cretenses y árabes, les oímos hablar en nuestras lenguas las maravillas de Dios.
    En America está viva y encendida la llama de la división racial. La unidad como nación es una utopía, sin Dios no es más que una utopía. Esa utopía solo será alcanzada con el retorno de Jesucristo. Por eso estoy de acuerdo con Castro quién dice y cita: “Our ethnic distinctions exist for the glory of God. We see in John’s glorious visions people from every nation, tribe, and language worshiping around the throne of God. These distinctions were God’s idea, and for the glory of his great name.” En el plan redentor Dios mismo tomo opción racial para cumplir finalmente su propósito redentor. La realidad racial es un tema de debate mundial y no importa que juegue el Barça contra el Real y que antes de comenzar el partido lean todo lo que quieran leer para pronunciarse en pro del anti racismo, una vez comience el partido se sacarán a sus madres y se exacerbaran los odios raciales sin que nadie lo pueda impedir. Déjenme mirar conforme al Espíritu y leer en esperanza Gálatas 3:28 (RVR1960): “Ya no hay judío ni griego; no hay esclavo ni libre; no hay varón ni mujer; porque todos vosotros sois uno en Cristo Jesús.”

  5. Kent johnson

    I agree with Alex. Your theme has merit, but your critique of Dr. Carson, based on one sound bite on race, doesn’t. Read what Dr. Carson says in broader context. When you see that your complaint that he doesn’t appreciate diversity is erroneous, then I hope you will issue an apology.

    Dr. Carson has a powerful healing message the U.S. needs to hear. Torpedoing his message based on a simplistic interpretation of a sound bite isn’t just irresponsible, it’s destructive.

  6. Scott

    Yeah, what we need are more race-conscious scum like Sharpton and Jackson. They sure are helping us get past this issue, right?

  7. Amanda

    Tyler, I think you could and should make your point with proof and persuasive arguments. Are vulgarity and racial insults really serving you well? Disgusting.

  8. Josh

    Ben Carson has spoken much more extensively on race, you might want to investigate further before calling him out on a 30 second sound bite.

    I for one would much rather have a president that encourages colorblindness to some degree than a president who dumps fuel on the fires of racial division.

    And Tyler… Sanders? haha come on guy this is a Christian site. Then again based on your language maybe he is the guy for you.

  9. Alex Lawhead

    Great article and I agree with you on everything you said here. However, the title of this article is a vessel to get page clicks/views. To make the assertion that Ben Carson is “wrong” and “colorblind” based off a 30 second response is ridiculous.

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