What’s more disgraceful—Ben Carson’s name or Detroit public schools? (Dec. 19)


Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, said: People don’t have ideas. Ideas have people. Jung’s statement isn’t about what motivates the mind, it’s about ideological possession.
Recently, it was reported Detroit’s Board of Education approved a process for seeking new names for several schools—including the Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, The Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men, and the Detroit School of Fine Arts might be renamed to honor Aretha Franklin. The 6 to 1 vote to change school names doesn’t mean it’s official. The district plans to have a community meeting to figure out if there is indeed an interest in renaming any facility.
That’s fine if the entire undertaking was motivated by a desire for community input, but something possessed School Board member Lamar Lemmons to tell the Washington Post that (Ben Carson’s name on a school) is “synonymous with having Trump’s name on our school in Blackface.” Lemmons expressed that Carson should’ve never entered politics and explained, “Had he stayed in medicine, irrespective of his political philosophy or how he voted in private, we would have been happy to put his name on a school. He has since, in many of our eyes, disgraced himself.”
Here, a fair-minded person would’ve remembered the school was called Benjamin Carson High School of Science and Medicine, and asked, in fairness, how did Carson disgrace the field of science or the practice of medicine, if disgrace is the criterion?
But Project 21, a Black conservative group, didn’t ask anything. They condemned the school board’s decision and claimed, “This is another misguided effort by liberals to erase history. The Detroit school board had no problem with the name of the school before Dr. Carson became active in politics. Now that he does not conform to the ideal liberal plantation image of a Black man, and he plays a prominent role in the Trump Administration, he offends their hypersensitive, self-righteous and morally corrupt sensibilities.”
The NewsOne staff reported Project 21’s complaint in an article called: Sunken place ‘activists’ are whining that Detroit School may remove Ben Carson’s name. You can see from this headline, to Lemmon’s comments, to Project 21’s response, that all of these people are ideologically possessed and their statements are in service to their ideas alone.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu gave a speech before he removed the Robert E. Lee monument in New Orleans. Landrieu said: A friend asked him to consider the Confederate monument from the perspective of an African American mother or father trying to explain to their fifth-grade daughter who Robert E. Lee is and why he stood a top of our beautiful city. Can you look that girl in the eye and convince her that Robert E. Lee is there to encourage her? Do you think she will feel inspired or hopeful by that story?
Now I want to redirect this statement toward the ideologically possessed people that want Carson’s name removed from the school because they feel he is a political disgrace. Consider the perspective of a single mother trying to keep her son from the mean streets of Detroit. Can you explain to her son why Ben Carson’s name is being removed from the school? Can you look that single mother and her son in the eye and convince them that Ben Carson’s story isn’t inspirational and hopeful? Especially, when that single mother knows only 10 percent of students in Detroit’s public schools read at grade level, and in 2016 students from five of Detroit’s worst-performing schools sued the state of Michigan saying they had a constitutional right to be educated.
Maybe the debate shouldn’t be over what famous name to call each building, but whether or not each building should be called a school.
(J. Pharaoh Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
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