A new Politico report alleges an exodus of Black White House workers under the Joe Biden administration. Reporters say at least 21 Black staffers have left their job or are planning to leave soon, describing a work environment where they’re rarely supported by their superiors and a low chance at promotion.
Politico spoke with former and current White House employees, who provided various reasons for their departure. Some have moved to other departments, while others left for educational opportunities or to focus on family life.
Others claim they’re often overlooked for a promotion, and there’s a lack of Black mentorship to lean on in a “tense work environment with little time off.”
“People have not had the best experiences and a lot of that has to do with the dearth of Black leadership,” an anonymous former White House official, who is Black, told reporters. “Think about any workplace. Black folks need some person to go to, to strategize and be a mentor, and we just don’t have as many folks who can be mentors to us.”
A current White House official stressed that there’s no infrastructure to help Black workers succeed in the political workplace.
“They brought in a ton of Black people generally to start without ever establishing an infrastructure to retain them or help them be successful,” the official claims. “If there is no clear infrastructure of how to be successful, you become just as invisible in this space than you would be if you were not in it.”
The website also provided a lengthy list of Black White House staff who left, including Vice President Kamala Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders and several senior aides like Tina Flournoy and public engagement head Cedric Richmond. Such departures have left workplace diversity experts concerned.
“I have heard about an exodus of Black staffers from the White House — ‘Blaxit’ — and I am concerned,” Spencer Overton says. He is the president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which tracks government staff diversity numbers.
“Black voters accounted for 22 percent of President Biden’s voters in November 2020. It is essential that Black staffers are not only recruited to serve in senior, mid-level and junior White House positions, but are also included in major policy and personnel decisions and have opportunities for advancement,” she continued.
This news comes as Black people have ascended to high-profile positions during Biden’s tenure, from the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, and Lisa Cook’s confirmation to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors.
A White House officials rebuked these allegations, claiming 14% of current White House staffers identify as Black and 15% of those employees have been promoted in the last year. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had this to say about the matter:
“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. 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.”
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