Black staff members are departing the White House in droves, with at least 21 leaving since the start of the year, according to a Politico report. The situation is so bad that some aides are calling it a “Blaxit.” Why are they leaving? They’re reportedly unhappy with the work environment that has “little support from their superiors and fewer chances for promotion.”
Biden has repeatedly emphasized race and gender in his recent career, openly vowing to consider only a female as his running mate, a promise he kept when he chose now-Vice President Kamala Harris. For his first Supreme Court nominee, he narrowed down his options even further, pledging to only consider African-American females, and ended up picking now-Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Joe’s focus on diversity is exactly why this “Blaxit” is such a bad look for this administration. From the report:
Three Black staffers who currently work in the White House — and were granted anonymity because of fear of reprisal — said the exodus has hurt morale, compounding problems that exist elsewhere. They described an operation in which mentorship is hard to come by and opportunity to move up the ranks of a tight-knit operation is exceptionally rare.
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The White House quickly pushed back, of course, saying that turnover is normal and the administration has one of the most diverse staffs “in history.” In a statement to People, White House director of African American media Erica Loewe said:
Instead of including their on-the-record sentiments, Politico singled out Black staff who left at a normal time for general turnover and then intentionally kept their own perspectives about their stories in the dark.
The administration also provided 10 statements from current and former staffers who described a “great culture,” with some saying they simply left for different jobs or to be with their family. Contrast that with this description of the “great culture” by a black staffer:
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 list of departures is long: 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.
Upon entering office in 2021, President Joe Biden pledged to build an administration that “would look like America looks.” The White House says he’s achieved that goal and that around 14 percent of current staffers identify as black, in line with national proportions.
Joe may have hired a lot of black people, but no one seems to have checked in to see how they’re doing. It’s amazing that, in an administration that’s dedicated to diversity, such a problem has been allowed to fester. Why did no one notice the obvious trend of black people leaving, the water cooler talk, the rumors, and the frustration that these employees describe? It looks like the administration dropped the ball on this too, as they have on so many things.