While Barack Obama has been increasingly vocal about issues affecting Black America in the last months of his presidency, his stance on the Black Lives Matter Network remains unclear.
But during an interview at the Congressional Black Caucus’ Annual Legislative Conference, Khalilah Harris — Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans — told NewsOne that the Obama administration certainly “considers” what has become the largest Black liberation movement in decades.
“The administration definitely considers Black Lives Matter, because we agree that black lives matter,” Harris told NewsOne in an exclusive interview. “We understand the nuance of being clear that everyone is a valuable person the moment that they are born.”
Harris, who attended the CBC ALC conference to discuss the school-to-prison pipeline, made a clear delineation of how respectability politics — an idea that “indicates that in order for Black people to be seen as human and full citizens in this country, they are required to be respectable at all times” — often fuels the hyper-incarceration of Black youth. Respectability politics, she said, is an “insidious” issue that needs to be checked by both policy makers and the community that adheres to the long-held beliefs that saggy pants, for example, are the reason so many Black youths are held back.
She charged those in government with making sure they use “race consciousness” when considering policy, something she says the White House is currently doing.
“When you talk about respectability politics, there are citizens who are not getting the same benefits of how laws are implemented and the White House is clear about that,” she said. “So while we don’t necessarily take a position on Black Lives Matter, because it is a fluid thing, it is certainly on the tongues of the people in the White House, the people at the Department of Education.”
“We want to make sure people understand we hear their critique and we hear their issues with how policies and practices are happening to them in their communities everyday,” she added.
For more on the school-to-prison pipeline and how it relates to Black Lives Matter, watch Harris’ full interview above.
The CBCF’s Annual Legislative Conference gathers members of the Congressional Black Caucus and others interested in politics and policy to Washington, D.C. each year for several days of meetings, panel discussions, and celebrations. The anticipated Phoenix Awards were created to celebrate the accomplishments of those working to uplift the African-American community.
Stay tuned to NewsOne.com for more exclusive videos featuring interviews with representatives, celebrities, and activists about the Black Lives Matter movement, economic empowerment, policy change, education, and the school-to-prison pipeline.
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