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Is Kim Kardashian the Face of Prison Reform? No…Maybe


Jun. 4 2018, Updated 4:42 p.m. ET

On Wednesday, Kim Kardashian went to the White House to meet with (y’alls) president to discuss prison reform and sentencing. However, several people are not happy about the unlikely pairing discussing such a serious issue.

The reality star and businesswoman has been vocal about the need for prison reform and using her platform to promote cases like Cyntoia Brown’s and Alice Marie Johnson. However, many people feel a few retweets don’t qualify Kim as an expert or worthy of being in the room with Trump’s top advisers.

Johnson is a 62-year-old grandmother who was arrested in 1996 and has served 21 years in prison  after being found guilty of committing a first time non-violent drug offense.

Brown, a victim of child-sex trafficking, is serving 51 years in prison and currently awaits a clemency decision after she was found guilty of killing her abuser when she was 16.

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The outrage began on Twitter, but didn’t end there. HelloBeautiful even created a list of women more qualified than Kardashian to tackle prison reform on this political level. Their list included The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander, director Ava DuVernay, and Senator Kamala Harris, among others. While the credentials of these women speak volumes, there is one thing they don’t have: white privilege.

Harris, DuVernay and Alexander have a brown skin barrier that hinders Trump from seeing their advice as valid. This may sound like an opinion that Trump won’t take their perspectives into account because of their race, but the fact is he has the chance. Presidents in the past have not only taken meetings with unlikely celebrities but have been the ones to request them.

In 2016, then-President Obama met with Macklemore to discuss the opioid epidemic. Their meeting was documented for MTV, but it was used as a call to action to end the epidemic and brought attention to the crisis.

Similar to the Obama-Macklemore pairing, Kim is not the expected posterchild for reform. Trump has numerous women of color – specifically those in politics – at his fingertips who are well-versed in the subject of prison reform, but he doesn’t see them. So perhaps it takes Kim’s visibility – and skin color – to create a thought in Trump’s head that women like Brown and Johnson are more than inmate numbers.

While people on both sides of the aisle are confused by the new partnership, it is refreshing to see Kim using her platform and her privilege for to help people behind bars have a chance at a fair trial and possible freedom.

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