Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter activists early last week, and just-released video shows the meeting got testy with an activist accusing the former secretary of State of “victim-blaming.”
Clinton spoke with the handful of activists for about 15 minutes on the sidelines of a forum about substance abuse in Keene, N.H.
One of the activists, Julius Jones, related their conversation to the topic of the forum, telling Clinton that “free black labor” was “America’s first drug.”
He adds that someone needs to “take on anti-blackness” by telling white people in the country that the mass incarceration system is like the plantation system — “a founding problem.”
Jones then accused the Clintons of being “partially responsible” for this through tough-on-crime legislation. “Now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that’s going to change the direction of this country?”
Clinton listened with her hands folded, nodding at some of the things he was saying but giving him a stern look.
“There has to be a reckoning — I agree with that — but I also believe that there has to be some positive vision and plan that you move people toward. Once you say ‘this country has still not recovered from its original sin,’ which is true, once you say that then the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, the next question is ‘well, what do you want me to do about it’?” Clinton said. “That’s what I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain and I can sell it.”
“Your analysis is totally fair,” she later told the activist. “It’s historically fair. It’s psychologically fair. It’s economically fair. But you’re going to have to come together as a movement and say ‘here’s what we want done about it.’ Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it…. Even for us sinners, find some common ground on agendas that can make a difference right here and now in people’s lives.”
But as the meeting progressed, as Clinton’s advisers were trying to urge her to move on to the next meeting, the interaction got more tense.
“If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what we need to do,” Jones said. “This is, and has always been, a white problem of violence. There’s not much that we can do to stop the violence against us.
“If that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we’re going to deal with a very real problem,” Clinton fired back.
“What you just said was a form of victim-blaming,” the activist continued.
“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton said. “I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You’re not going to change every heart. You’re not. But at the end of the day, we could do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them, to live up to their own God-given potential.”
CNN confirmed that the activists had showed up to protest inside the Clinton event, but weren’t allowed in by the Secret Service.
The meeting didn’t impress the activists from the Black Lives Matter Boston chapter, who issued a series of tweets accusing Clinton of having “more influence than most on policies that led to systemic oppression of people of color.”
“HRC’s policies are far-reaching, & negatively affect Black & brown people OUTSIDE the US as well,” added another tweet.
Clinton, meanwhile, tweeted against Arctic drilling, in support of Obamacare, and in support of her campaign’s new collection of back-to-school Hillarwear for kids.