What some are claiming is normal and expected staff turnover, others are calling the departure of 20 Black staffers from the White House as the “Blaxit.”
Politico published interviews of nine current and former White House staffers who shared that despite some employees leaving on good terms, there is a climate that some other Black employees find discouraging. Politico quoted an unnamed staffer as saying, “They brought in a ton of black people generally to start without ever establishing an infrastructure to retain them or help them be successful. 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.”
It’s not uncommon that as the first year of an administration ends, staff will leave. This White House has seen several departures across all its staff, and former press secretary Jen Psaki left her post to join MSNBC, where she’ll join Symone Sanders, who left Vice President Kamala Harris’ staff to host a weekend show on MSNBC earlier this year.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, the first black woman and LGBT person in the position, was quoted in the Politico article as saying, “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.”
Additionally, White House pay doesn’t keep pace with the cost of living in expensive Washington, D.C. White House staff salaries range from around $48,000- to $180,000. The current administration has also helped to close the gender pay gap that’s existed between prior White House staffs. Women comprise about 60 percent of the Biden White House appointees and about 56% of his senior staff.
President Joe Biden came into office pledging that the staff of the White House would look like the population of the country that elected him. At this halfway point in his administration, that promise seems to be a work in progress.