Activists from the Black Lives Matter movement finally got some face time with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and things did not go well. Footage from the conversation, which took place in New Hampshire on August 11, was finally released late Monday night and shows Hillary getting testy with the black activists.
“The piece that’s most important, and I stand here in your space and I say this as respectfully as I can,” Julius Jones, one of the activists, said to Hillary Clinton, “but if you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do.”
“Well, I’m not telling you,” Clinton responded. “I’m just telling you to tell me.”
“What I mean to say is that this is and has always been a white problem of violence,” Jones continued. “There’s not much that we can do [as black people] to stop the violence against us.”
That’s when the conversation got awkward.
“Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems,” Clinton snapped back, eliciting a wide-eyed look of horror from Daunasia Yancey, the founder of Black Lives Matter in Boston who was standing directly to Hillary Clinton’s left.
“That’s not why I mean. That’s not what I mean. That’s not what I mean,” Jones told Clinton. “What you just said is a form of victim blaming. You were saying what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to change white hearts is–”
“Look, I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton shot back. “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.”
Jones talked about his encounter with Clinton during an MSNBC appearance on Monday night. Jones said Clinton’s emphasis on policy change was interesting given her role in setting up mass incarceration policy in the U.S.
“She doesn’t actually believe you can change hearts in the United States and that the way to effect change is through systemic change. And at the same time she was also ducking personal responsibility for the role that her and her family played in it, too,” Jones told host Melissa Harris-Parry. “She doesn’t actually feel like you can move this issue forward other than through policy even though the policy mistakes that she and the Clintons made got us in large degree to the situation that we are in today with mass incarceration.”
— BlackLivesMatterBOS (@BLM_Boston) August 18, 2015