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Does the Biden Administration Have a 'Blaxit' Problem?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The Biden administration has pledged to be the most diverse in history, with the president making his desire for a team that "looks like America" known early on. 

"Building a diverse team will lead to better outcomes and more effective solutions to address the urgent crises facing our nation," Biden said when he first announced some of his cabinet nominees.

But what about in lower positions? According to Politico, he's having a retention issue among some black employees. 

At least 21 Black staffers have left the White House since late last year or are planning to leave soon. Some of those who remain say it’s no wonder why: They describe a work environment with little support from their superiors and fewer chances for promotion.

The departures have been so pronounced that, according to one current and one former White House official, some Black aides have adopted a term for them: “Blaxit.”

The first major wave of departures came when Vice President Kamala Harris' senior adviser and spokesperson, Symone Sanders, left. After that, a handful of senior aides for Harris also left, followed by about a dozen other White House officials Politico lists. 

"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," one current Black White House official told Politico. "There is no real feedback and there's no clear path to any kind of promotions." 

A third black White House official said there's no "infrastructure to retain [black employees] or help them be successful." 

The White House denies there's a problem, with one official telling Politico the percentage of black staffers - 14 percent - is on par with national proportions, and that 15 percent were promoted in the past year.

But Politico even acknowledges that not all the black staffers who left did so because they were disgruntled, but rather moved on to other opportunities in the administration or pursued educational opportunities, for example. 

The reasons for the departures may vary. But the totality of them has not gone unnoticed within the ranks, according to interviews with nine current and former Black White House officials. 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. (Politico)

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