- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has a frank discussion with Black Lives Matter activists about race in America and her own history with tough-on-crime policies in a newly-released video of the candidate in New Hampshire.

At one point, an activist tells Mrs. Clinton that, having publicly lobbied for the 1994 crime bill pushed by her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, she has been partially responsible for incarceration policies in the country.

In the video published by GOOD Magazine, he also tells Mrs. Clinton it’s always been a “white problem of violence.”

“Respectfully, if that’s your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with … very real problems,” she said.

“That’s not what I mean … what I’m saying is what you just said was a form of victim-blaming,” the activist says. “You were saying that what the Black Lives Matter movement needs to do to change white hearts,” is talk about policy.

“I don’t believe you change hearts,” Mrs. Clinton replied. “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. But at the end of the day, we can do a whole lot to change some hearts and change some systems and create more opportunities for people who deserve to have them to live up to their own God-given potential, to live safely without fear of violence in their own communities — to have a decent school, to have a decent house, to have a decent future.”

“So we can do it one of many ways,” she said. “You know, you can keep the movement going, which you have started, and through it, you may actually change some hearts. But if that’s all that happens, we’ll be back here in 10 years having the same conversation. Because we will not have all of the changes that you deserve to see happen in your lifetime because of your willingness to get out there and talk about this.”

Protesters with the movement, which surfaced following the 2012 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida, have interrupted speeches on the campaign trail of Democratic candidates Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent.

Activists spoke with Mrs. Clinton in New Hampshire recently after they did not get into one of her events.

In a recent release, the group said it does not endorse any presidential candidate but is “committed to holding all candidates for office accountable to the needs and dreams of black people.”

Early on in her presidential campaign, Mrs. Clinton said it was time to end the era of “mass incarceration.” In the video, the activist also asks her what in her heart has changed that’s going to “change the direction of this country.”

Mrs. Clinton said it’s a “thoughtful question” that deserves a “thoughtful answer” and that she’s committed to doing whatever she can, having spent much of her adult life trying to help kids, including black and Hispanic kids.

“I think there has to be a reckoning — I agree with that — but I also think there has to be some positive vision and plan that you can move people toward,” she said. “Once you say, you know, this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true — once you say that, then the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, the next question is, ‘Well, so what do you want me to do about it? What am I supposed to do about it?’ That’s what I’m trying to put together in a way that I can explain it and I can sell it.”

“Because in politics, if you can’t explain it and you can’t sell it,” it stays on the shelf, Mrs. Clinton said.

She compared the current movement to causes like the Civil Rights, women’s rights and gay rights movements, saying that “the people behind that consciousness-raising and advocacy — they had a plan ready to go.”

Mrs. Clinton said the group’s argument was fair, but that they would now have to outline what they want done.

“Because you can get lip service from as many white people as you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it who are going to say, ‘Oh, we get it. We get it. We’re going to be nicer.’ That’s not enough, at least in my book,” she said. “That’s not how I see politics.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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