“I don’t believe you change hearts. You change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”
Newly released video of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private meeting with Black Lives Matter activists in New Hampshire last week shows a testy exchange between Clinton and the activists.
In one of two clips of the meeting posted by Good Magazine on Monday, Clinton suggests that the activists need to have strong policy goals if they want to create real change, using the women’s and gay rights movements as a comparison.
One of the activists takes issue with her comments. “This is and has always been a white problem of violence. There’s not much that we [black people] can do to stop the violence against us,” Julius Jones of Black Lives Matter tells Clinton.
Clinton pushes back: “Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will only talk to white people about the very real problems.”
The Clinton campaign said in an email to The Huffington Post that the video presented the candidate’s comments out of context, and provided a full transcript of the meeting, which can be found at the end of this article. There does not appear to be a full, unedited video of the meeting available, but the transcript reveals that the two excerpts published by Good cover most of the discussion.
In the video, Jones continues: “That’s not what I mean. What you just said was a form of victim-blaming. What you were saying was that what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to change white hearts …”
“I don’t believe you change hearts,” Clinton replies. “You change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.”
“You can keep the movement going,” she continues, “and through it, you may change actually some hearts, but if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back in 10 years having the same conversation because we will not have all of the changes that you deserve to have because of your willingness to talk about this.”
Watch the exchange here:
Jones and Black Lives Matter Boston leader Daunasia Yancey, who was also at the meeting with Clinton, told MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry on Monday night that they felt the meeting was productive and appreciated the candidate’s desire to focus on reforming discriminatory policies.
“I feel as if the encounter was good. It moves the conversation on race to a newer and deeper level,” Jones said.
Still, the activists said they were disappointed that she “ducked personal responsibility” for the current state of affairs. In the meeting, Jones asked Clinton about stringent crime policies during her husband’s presidency that disproportionately targeted blacks. President Bill Clinton’s administration imposed mandatory minimum sentences on nonviolent offenders, spent more money building prisons and undertook a number of other measures that facilitated mass incarceration.
The former first lady tried to defend the “tough on crime” policies as necessary for that time period.
“It’s important to remember — and I certainly remember — that there was a very serious crime wave that was impacting primarily communities of color and poor people,” Clinton said, according to the transcript provided by her campaign. “And part of it was that there was just not enough attention paid. So you know, you could argue that people who were trying to address that — including my husband, when he was president — were responding to the very real concerns of people in the communities themselves.”
Yancey told MSNBC that the activists had hoped Clinton would give “a personal reflection” on the matter during the meeting.
“What we were looking for from Secretary Clinton was a personal reflection on her responsibility for being part of the cause of this problem that we have today in mass incarceration. So her response really targeting on policy wasn’t sufficient for us,” she said.
In her discussion with the Black Lives Matter activists, Clinton highlighted her past advocacy for children and families, along with her current campaign platform’s efforts to address racial discrimination.
“Let’s get an agenda that addresses the problem as much as we can,” she said in one of the videos, “because then you can be for something, in addition to getting people to have to admit that they are part of a long history in our country of either proposing, supporting, condoning discrimination, segregation, et cetera.”
On Monday, Jones and Yancey also addressed the divide between the Black Lives Matter movement and white progressives, as evidenced by friction with supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Black Lives Matter protesters recently interrupted an event in Seattle at which the Democratic presidential candidate was supposed to speak. Jones told MSNBC that the incident highlighted “covert anti-blackness that exists in the Democratic Party.”
Read the full transcript of Clinton’s meeting with the Black Lives Matters protesters: