It seems Kim Kardashian West can't do anything right. Yesterday, thanks to a hand from Jared Kushner, the beauty connoisseur paid a visit to President Trump in Washington D.C. in order to discuss prison reform, as well as granting clemency for Alice Marie Johnson.
Alice Marie Johnson is a 63-year-old great grandmother who is serving lifetime in prison for a first time non-violent drug offence and was not eligible for parole. According to her lawyer, Brittany Barnett, Johnson was convicted for various criminal counts that all boiled down to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation with over a dozen people involved. As of today, she's spent 21 and a half years in prison and it is said that Johnson became involved in the drug trafficking lifestyle following the death of her son and the end of her marriage stating, "I couldn’t find a job fast enough to take care of my family", adding, "I felt like a failure". Since then, Johnson has described herself as "a woman who has made a mistake,” claiming, “if I could go back in time and change the choices that I made and make different choices, I would. But I can’t. But what I have done is I have not allowed my past to be the sum of who I am.” You can watch the Mic video covering Johnson's case below.
Alice Marie Johnson has been in prison for 21 years for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense. pic.twitter.com/VFe29D2ve8— Mic (@mic) October 23, 2017
Kim claims she heard about Alice Johnson when she came across the video by Mic and she was apparently touched by the aspect of family that was depicted in the video as the Kardashians are well known for their very family-oriented personalities and lifestyles. It is said that she has been following the case for months now, keeping in contact with Johnson, her legal team, and her family, as well as enlisting her own lawyer, Shawn Holley to help with the case.
I am honored to accompany @KimKardashian to The White House today to advocate on behalf of Alice Marie Johnson. Kim has spent her time, money & energy for this incredibly worthy cause. Please give credit where credit is due.— Shawn Holley (@theshawnholley) May 30, 2018
In addition to this, Kim has kept in contact with Jared Kushner who is the senior advisor to President Trump, as well as his son-in-law, for months on end in order to guarantee a visit to the White House. And so, yesterday, on Wednesday, May 30th, Kim, dressed in all black asides from neon green heels, alongside Shawn Holley, paid her visit to the White House in order to discuss prison reform and clemency for Johnson with President Trump.
Now, obviously when the Kardashians do anything, it's always a controversy and this was no different.
When news broke, many questioned why Kim Kardashian, a reality TV star who specializes in beauty and fashion, with no degree in law or any experience with prison would be meeting with the President to discuss a topic as sensitive as prison reform. She became the topic of misogynistic jokes from the New York Post who demeaned her to just an ass with a voice and slut-shamers all over social media. Many claimed she was too ditzy and stupid to attend such a meeting even though she's been researching and speaking on prison reform for years when most people wouldn't even bother learning Alice Marie Johnson's name. People questioned why Kim wouldn't pass along the dialogue to people who actually have experience with the topic and who are more knowledgeable and well, the answer is honestly quite simple.
To elaborate, John Haltiwanger, politics reporter for the Huffington Post, said it best in a Twitter thread which can be seen below.
My personal opinion on the Kardashians is they often serve as a huge distraction from more pressing topics but if Kim K is going to use her celebrity to shed light on an important issue I don't see the value in attacking her. Some peeps just seem determined to hate no matter what— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) May 30, 2018
Sadly, sometimes the best way to bring widespread attention to an issue is to attach a popular face to it. That's why the UN picks celebrities as ambassadors (Leo on climate change, for example). Is he an expert? No. But him being an advocate helps push the issue front and center— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) May 30, 2018
Does any of this mean Trump will actually take substantive actions re: prison reform? Only time will tell and there are certainly many reasons to be skeptical. But there's value in attaching well-known faces to important causes. It gets people talking. It helps educate folks.— John Haltiwanger (@jchaltiwanger) May 30, 2018
The matter of the fact is, you can hate on Kim Kardashian for whatever justifiable reasons you have but you cannot deny that she is using her platform for good. Many asked why she didn't let a professional or an expert go in her place but for one, she did, as she brought a lawyer who is knowledgeable on the matter, and two, by going herself, she used her already controversial platform to raise awareness.
The controversy and publicity that follows the Kardashian name ultimately followed her to this meeting and sparked a very loud discussion on prison reform. Furthermore, as Haltiwanger states, President Trump did meet with experts on prison reform but did you hear about it? Most likely not because their platform and their names are not as big as Kim's; not big enough to spark the conversation that has been happening since yesterday's meeting.
It's also interesting to note that Meek Mill, someone who very recently came face to face with the institutional racism found in the justice system, had the opportunity to go to the White House but was discouraged by Jay-Z in order to avoid backlash from meeting with President Trump. Imagine not advocating or speaking for the millions of black men and women who are being held in prisons unethically and unmorally because you fear your reputation being tarnished?
No one is saying Kim Kardashian is an expert on prison reform of that she is going to become the face of the millions of black men and women suffering from institutional racism however, using her white privilege as well as her platform to raise awareness is respectable. There has to come a time when celebrities can mix with politics especially if it means saving the lives of millions; in fact, we can use the example of the good done by Leonardo DiCaprio from becoming an advocate for the UN on climate change even though he's not a scientist or an ecologist. I agree that it isn't fair when people of privilege speak over those who are marginalized and oppressed but hear me out, when someone has that reach and they're in a position of privilege where they can make such big differences, we should let them. No one is saying you should become a fan of Kim Kardashian and that she shouldn't be subject to criticism but with that being said, I highly doubt Kim went in there with zero knowledge on the subject and without having consulted experts prior; she also evidently brought her lawyer for a reason.
It seems as though Kim's haters forgot what was at stake with this meeting; the life of someone who simply made a mistake and is looking to be rejoined with her family and with society. In fact, Johnson expressed her gratitude to Kim in a letter stating, "Mrs. Kardashian, you are literally helping to save my life and restore me to my family, I was drowning and you have thrown me a life jacket and given me hope". Alice Johnson's daughter has also been seen leaving comments on TheShadeRoom's posts defending Kim and thanking her for visiting the White House on behalf of her mother.
It's important to remember that Kim's come up and prior actions do not determine the good she can do for the world now. Whether you hate her family or you hate her husband, attacking her for using her own time and money to help out a family in need may simply be a reflection of your own misogyny and misdirected anger.
With that being said, Kim has stated that she hopes to put all her money and resources into similar situations at least once a year and that's commendable for someone who isn't a politician or a lawyer. The same can't really be said for any other celebrities with such a platform and that's said keeping in mind the fact that Kim and the Kardashian clan are constantly giving back to different charities and communities all while raising awareness on many different societal issues.
Hopefully the conversation Kim sparked can raise awareness on prison reform and can change the lives of many, especially the many black men and women who are facing the repercussions of institutional racism. As for Alice Johnson, perhaps Kim's conversation with President Trump really did go well and we'll see a change in character from the very questionable current president.
You can watch a recap of the meeting as explained by Kim below.
*Now, I already know I'll have a lot of people calling me biased because I'm a KKW stan even though I provided receipts and facts but it is what it is! I'm not here to defend Kim or serve as her lawyer but this case was particularly interesting because it seems people are blindly following the masses instead of focusing on what's important here: a black woman trying to go home to her family. Don't worry, I see the subtweets and the random comments, so if you think I'm wrong, drop a comment below and let me know why. Hopefully, you've done as much research as I have and you're not just an advocate of the "I hate Kim K" bandwagon.
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