issac j bailey

Issac J. Bailey

*Dr. Ben Carson’s inspiring life story may have struck a nerve with his presidential campaign supporters and Issac J. Bailey, but the writer admits that he is no longer “talking” like Carson when telling his personal story.

“If Ben Carson’s political career is built on anything, it’s his inspirational story, the former Sun News columnist wrote in a recent column for Politico.

“For two decades he’s been selling books and drawing crowds with his ‘you control your own destiny’ message, convincing millions that hard work and determination can lead a black child out of poverty and on to professional notoriety and success.”

For Bailey, Carson’s story mirrors his own. So much so that he admits the delivery of his life story – when speaking at events – shares a similar vibe to Carson’s.

“Whenever I spoke in public I would talk about how I was born into destitution in rural South Carolina to a woman who married at 13 and to a man who beat her like clockwork every weekend for most of my young life. I would talk about how my oldest brother went to prison for murder when I was nine years old (and a few other brothers eventually followed him there) and how the ill-equipped high school my 10 siblings and I attended wasn’t desegregated for more than four decades after Brown v. Board of Education,” Bailey stated.

He continued:

“Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against me, I would tell my audience, through my hard work and perseverance, I graduated from one of the top liberal arts schools in the country, Davidson College, and went on to become a successful columnist and published author and was eventually invited to spend a year studying at Harvard. I’ve rubbed shoulders with governors and multi-millionaires, interviewed Barack Obama.

“And then I stopped telling that story.

Bailey’s reason for not continuing to tell his story came after seeing the reaction of those he shared it with. A reaction that was far from what he expected.

“It felt great to narrate, but I started to notice that my audience members, far from becoming more sympathetic, began hurling my tale as an indictment of those still mired in the muck of the kind of struggle I experienced. ‘You made it; why can’t they?’ people would say to me as they thanked me for my ‘inspiring’ words. ‘You worked hard and have been rewarded. Why aren’t they doing the same?’ The story was doing precisely the opposite of what I wanted. It hardened, rather than softened hearts . . .” said Bailey, who revealed that unlike Carson, his survival and success was made possible from obtaining help from various sources.

“I imagine, though, that some of the crowds I speak before would rather hear from Carson than me because he has distilled his story down into a long line of tall tales that suggest hard work and right living alone will lead anyone to success, no matter the obstacles they face. I, on the other hand, am more prone to begin the retelling of my story by declaring that welfare programs helped save me,” Bailey confessed. “Food stamps and government cheese and free lunches and Pell grants didn’t make me lazy—or dependent; I worked throughout high school and college while playing sports. They kept me from starving and made it possible for my parents to make ends meet.

“Isn’t it funny,” Bailey continued, “how Mitt Romney and Donald Trump could receive “small loans” from their wealthy parents; Ted Cruz and his wife can benefit from a government health care subsidy larger than the ones families on Medicaid receive; billionaire hedge fund managers can take advantage of the absurd carried interest tax loophole; rich families can eagerly accept a government subsidy for buying a million-dollar home; and none of them feel ashamed—or are shamed? Yet a poor person accepting government assistance to buy eggs and bread and the occasional cheap grocery store steak is forced to wear the Scarlet F on his chest?”

To read Bailey’s account of why he doesn’t “talk” like Carson anymore in its entirety at Politico, click HERE.