In an administration where checking off all the right boxes is a must, Politico reports that, since last year, roughly 21 black staffers have left employment at the White House, or are planning on leaving soon.
The exodus has been so noticeable, that those who are left have a name for it, “blaxit.”
So why is this happening?
Politico notes that black staff aren’t being given promotion opportunities or support from their supervisors.
When Joe Biden became President, he made yet another campaign promise, that his administration “would look like America looks,” and would include “a full range of talents we have in all our people.”
It appears that the easy part – hiring – was done. Retaining and empowering those employees? Not so much.
Politico lists the roster of who left or is leaving:
The first big exit came in December, when Kamala Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders announced she was leaving, ultimately for a gig at MSNBC. Since then, Harris senior aides Tina Flournoy, Ashley Etienne and Vincent Evans, and public engagement head Cedric Richmond have left.
Public engagement aide Carissa Smith, gender policy aide Kalisha Dessources Figures, National Security Council senior director Linda Etim, digital engagement director Cameron Trimble, associate counsel Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo, chief of staff Ron Klain advisers Elizabeth Wilkins and Niyat Mulugheta, press assistant Natalie Austin, National Economic Council aides Joelle Gamble and Connor Maxwell, and presidential personnel aides Danielle Okai, Reggie Greer and Rayshawn Dyson have all departed too. Deputy White House counsel Danielle Conley and Council of Economic Advisers aide Saharra Griffin are among others planning to leave in the coming weeks, according to White House officials.
The White House doesn’t seem to think there is a problem.
New White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first black, immigrant, and openly gay Press Secretary, defended Biden and the White House’s record in general on diversity.
“This is a normal time for turnover across the board in any administration and black staff have been promoted at a higher rate than staff who are not diverse. The president is incredibly proud to have built what continues to be the most diverse White House staff in history, and he is committed to continuing historic representation for black staff and all communities.”
One of three current black White House Staff who wanted to remain anonymous because they feared retribution told Politico,
“We’re here and we’re doing a lot of work but we’re not decision-makers and there’s no real path towards becoming decision-makers. There is no real feedback and there’s no clear path to any kind of promotions.”
The number of White House staff leaving for employment elsewhere is not new. The revolving door appeared late last year when a CNN expose revealed there was discord among staffers, and Vice President Kamala Harris’ office was apparently ground zero.
Former Harris aides and others in the Biden administration described the atmosphere in Harris’ office as “tense” and “dour.”
In an all-important election year, and Biden job approval down across the board, failure to retain black White House staffers may not sit well with black voters.
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