Thursday night, Republican candidates squared off in the first presidential debate of the 2016 race, and boy was it interesting to watch.
The night began with Donald Trump and moderator Megyn Kelly butting heads over his disparaging comments on women. Kelly, a popular Fox News host, pressed Trump on his offensive remarks.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” she told Trump. The former Apprentice host tried to dodge her criticism by joking he’s only used his vicious words on Rossie O’Donnell.
The skirmishes continued later in the evening when Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got into a heated exchange over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records, with Christie calling Paul “full of hot air.”
While there was a lot of conversation about immigration reform, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama’s policies, race garnered exactly one question. And of course, Fox moderators asked the Black guy, Dr. Ben Carson, to weigh in.
During the debate, Carson called moderators out on being ignored, and indeed there was a long stretch between his first and second questions. Carson, who’s a world-renowned neurosurgeon, seemed out of place when talking about his lack of foreign policy experience, and when asked about his tax plan the doctor said he’d rely on the biblical principle of tithing.
Before the night ended, Kelly asked Carson–the only Black candidate in the race so far–about the current state of race relations and how he would heal the divide.
Carson’s answer? It’s time to move on.
“We have the purveyors of hatred who take every single incident between people of two races and try to make a race war out of it,” he said. Carson went on to explain that as a neurosurgeon race doesn’t matter.
“The skin doesn’t make [people] who they are. The hair doesn’t make them who they are. And it’s time for us to move beyond that,” he explained. “Our strength comes from our unity. We are the United States of America, not the divided states, and those who want to destroy us are trying to divide us, and we shouldn’t let them do it.”
Despite Carson’s assertion that race doesn’t matter, one look at the events of the past year tells us otherwise.
In addition to the extrajudicial killings of unarmed Black folks, research has shown that people of color are treated differently when looking for jobs, in the justice system, and even by their teachers. Moreover, Fox News, a network Carson loves to appear on, continues to be one of the most divisive and offensive when it comes reporting on people who do not fit a particular race, religion, or political views.
If race doesn’t matter why did Kelly ask the lone African American man on the stage how he’d “heal” the racial divide instead of posing the question to Donald Trump or Rand Paul or Chris Christie or Marco Rubio?
I think we all know the reason.