President Joe Biden is having difficulty keeping Black staffers in the White House. Since December 2021, the administration has lost 21 Black staffers. The exodus has become known as “Blaxit.”
Frustrated Black staffers complain of a work environment with little support from their superiors and fewer chances for promotion, Politico reported.
Another Black employee told The Daily Mail that low pay is driving the mass exit, especially in Washington, D.C., which has one of the highest costs of living in the country.
“The pay in the White House is not traditionally very good, and a lot of Black folks in these roles don’t come from wealthy families,” the White House official said. Entry-level salaries at the White House start at $48,000.
The first significant resignation came in December 2021, when Vice President Kamala Harris’ senior adviser and chief spokesperson Symone Sanders left and took a job at MSNBC. A flood of staffers leaving followed. White House senior aides Tina Flournoy, Ashley Etienne, Vincent Evans, and public engagement head Cedric Richmond have left.
Several Black staffers pointed to the departure of Richmond as difficult.
A current Biden White House official described Richmond as a “big brother” and “the voice of those folks” whose departure has left people “a little nervous.” A former Biden official, who is Black, told Politico that Richmond was “a nucleus” for Black staffers.
“They brought in a ton of Black people generally to start without ever establishing an infrastructure to retain them or help them be successful,” said the third current Black White House official. “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.”
“I have heard about an exodus of Black staffers from the White House — ‘Blaxit’ — and I am concerned,” said Spencer Overton, president of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, told Politico. “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.”
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies tracks government staff diversity numbers.
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Also calling it quits were 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.
And more are planning to leave, such as deputy White House counsel Danielle Conley and Council of Economic Advisers aide Saharra Griffin, according to White House officials.
The White House denies a problem and that the exits are routine.
“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,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who recently became the first Black to hold that position. “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.”
Photo: Cedric Richmond, former senior White House aide. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)/ Photo: Then Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden and senior adviser Symone Sanders participate in a campaign event in Iowa City, Iowa on Jan. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)