President Biden’s press office for Chief of Staff Amanda Finney (pictured) depicts a “black staffer exodus” from the White House.
The White House press office’s chief of staff, Amanda Finney, is leaving the West Wing after a damning report suggests there is a ‘Blaxit’ where black staff leave the administration en masse.
Finney is moving to the Energy Department for a senior communications post – following her boss White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s departure.
‘Amanda is a brilliant leader whose skills are strengthened by our team’s first days of administration,’ President Joe Biden’s new press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement to LOVEBYLIFE on her departure.
‘We call her’ Mayor Finney ‘a reason – her passion, dedication and insight drives our team forward and critical to our success.’
Jean-Pierre is not Finney’s former role to anyone named yet.
Biden’s press shop is facing a big turnover, with a number of junior aides expected to leave in the coming weeks for more senior roles in the federal government.
It all follows Psaki’s departure last month.
The turnover comes amid reports of an exodus of black staffers – at least 21, according to a Tuesday report – promoting a low-cost prospect and low pay.
Finney will serve as deputy director of public affairs at the Department of Energy and manage a team of nearly two dozen communication aids.
‘Amanda is simply indispensable and irreplaceable, and I am so grateful that I have worked with her on my side every single day as a press secretary,’ Psaki said of Finney. ‘I have no doubt she’s going to continue to knock the socks off everyone else’s works with her next chapter.’
Finney’s departure comes just weeks after former White House press secretary Jen Psaki (pictured May 25 on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show) left her post and the White House prepares for a big shake-up with the press office
Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said: ‘She keeps the trains running and juggles the chaos with grace and smarts.’
Nearly two dozen black White House staffers have left the administration since late 2021 or are planning to leave sooner rather than later in an unsupportive work environment and little chance of promotion.
A former White House official told Politico in a Tuesday report that the number of black staffer departures has led to some calling for a ‘Blaxit’, or ‘Black Exit’.
‘We’re here and we’re doing a lot of work but we’re not decision-makers and there are no decision-makers moving to the real world,’ a current Black White House official said, according to the report. ‘There is no real feedback and no clear path to any kind of promotions.’
Another black employee said that low pay is what many minority staffers leave, especially in a country with a high cost of living.
‘The White House is not traditionally very good and a lot of Black folks in these roles come from wealthy families,’ the White House official said.
Entry-level salaries at the White House start at $ 48,000.
The ‘Blaxit’ movement came out in December 2021 when Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief spokesperson, Symone Sanders, left. She landed at MSNBC where her self-titled show is debuting on May 7.
In the weeks and months following, early 2022, Harris senior aides Tina Flournoy, Ashley Etienne, and Vincent Evans all departed – as well as her public engagement head Cedric Richmond.
Including those departures starting late last year, now with at least 21 black staff members left in the White House or in the coming weeks and months.
The White House is having a hard time keeping up with black staff, and some dubbing with the recent departure of 21 Black White House employees from a ‘Blaxit.’ Pictured: President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Lay a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, May 30
The exodus began in December 2021 with Harris’ chief spokesperson Symone Sanders (left) on her own show with MSNBC. Her public engagement head Cedric Richmond (right) also departed, which hit some black staffers as hard as they described Richmond as a ‘big brother’, ‘voice of the folks’ and ‘nucleus’ for black staffers
Black staffers have left The White House in the last five months to include public engagement aide Carissa Smith; gender policy aide Kalisha Dessources Figures; National Security Council senior director Linda Etim; digital engagement director Cameron Trimble; and associate counsel Funmi Olorunnipa Badejo.
Departments also include Chief of Staff Ron Klain advisers Elizabeth Wilkins and Niyat Mulughetal; press assistant Natalie Austin; National Economic Council aides Joelle Gamble and Connor Maxwell; and presidential personnel aides Danielle Okai, Reggie Greer and Rayshawn Dyson.
Other black administration staffers who plan to leave in the coming weeks include Deputy White House counsel Danielle Conley and Council of Economic Advisers aide Saharra Griffin, according to the Politico report.
Some staff left on good terms, including other jobs within the administration and graduate school opportunities, while others said they wanted to refocus after spending years with a tense work environment with little time off or support from superiors.
In the first few weeks and months of 2022, Harris senior aides Tina Flournoy, Ashley Etienne, and Vincent Evans (pictured right) all departed – as well as her public engagement head Cedric Richmond
Harris’ former Chief of Staff Tina Flournoy (left) and her ex-communications director Ashley Etienne both departed Sanders after the White House.
‘I worked for both the President and the Vice President during the campaign cycle, and the opportunity to serve the American people in the Biden-Harris White House is nothing short of an honor,’ Austin said on her departure.
‘I loved my experience on the press team, and left because I wanted to have more time to spend more time with family and three years of straightforward campaigns and government work.’
Many black White House staffers said Richmond’s departure was particularly difficult for them.
They described former Harris Aide as a ‘big brother’, ‘voice of the folks’ and black staffers for a ‘nucleus’. His departure, they added, has left people ‘a little nervous’.
‘They have brought in a ton of Black people to start with, without ever having to start an infrastructure,’ a black White House official said. ‘If there is no clear infrastructure on how to be successful, you should just be as invisible as this space.
Richmond, now a senior adviser at the Democratic National Committee, told Politico that the White House gave young black workers more than other administrations and that many were doing so with higher compensation.
‘A lot of people have been at this grind [for a while] and it’s a hard grind [so] A slower pace of work and a better salary becomes more attractive, ‘he said. ‘For young African American employees who can make these types of salaries, it does not just change their plight but their family’s plight.’
The exodus of black staffers raised concerns that those who are pushing for diversifications in government offices.
‘I have heard about an exodus of Black staff from the White House -‘ Blaxit ‘- and I am concerned,’ said the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Spencer Overton.
Most recently, Karine Jean-Pierre (pictured May 26, 2022) took over from Jen Psaki as White House press secretary – she is the first black and LGBTQ person to serve in this position
The president of the group, which tracks staff diversity numbers in government, added: ‘Black voters accounted for 22 percent of President Biden’s voters in November 2020.’
‘It’s essential that Black staffers are not only recruited to serve in senior, mid-level and junior White House positions, but are also included in major policy and personnel decisions and advancement opportunities.’
One White House official pushed back criticism, claiming that 14 percent of current Biden and Harris staff are black, with 13.4 percent of the black population in America.
Biden’s new press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said: ‘The president is incredibly proud of what he has built up to be the most diverse White House staff in history, and he is the leading representative of Black staff and all communities.’
‘This is a normal time for any administration across the board to turnover and black staff have been promoted at a higher rate than the staff,’ she added.