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Black Democratic House leader accuses Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer of 'tokenism'

Then he walked it back

Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) blasted Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) for purportedly not hiring on a more diverse level within their congressional offices.

He later walked back his remarks.

What are the details?

Clyburn, who is black, told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published Tuesday that he believes "tokenism" is OK with Pelosi and Hoyer.

"I've always managed a fully integrated staff," he said. "Pelosi doesn't have that experience, nor does Hoyer have that experience. To them, tokenism is all right with them."

Clyburn, who has been in office for 14 years, rhetorically asked, "What I mean is, how many black folks are on Hoyer's staff?"

"I'm going to let you check it out," he told the publication.

Clyburn also added that Pelosi and Hoyer should know better.

"They're grown people," he insisted. "They can read. They can see."

In a later interview, Clyburn said that there was a problem with tokenism on Capitol Hill at large and walked back his comments about Pelosi and Hoyer.

"I did not intend anything as any criticism of Steny or Nancy, because I don't think they deserve to be criticized on hiring practices," he said. "Nancy's got a whole lot of black folks on her staff."

A spokesperson for the Wall Street Journal reported that 70 percent of Hoyer's staff identifies as female, persons of color, or as belonging to the LGBTQ community. Twenty-four percent of Hoyer's staff is black.

Eighty-four percent of Pelosi's staff identify as women, members of the LGBTQ community, or people of color, while Clyburn's staff is 58 percent black.

What else?

Clyburn also defended presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden's remarks about segregationists. According to NPR, Biden made the remarks in an effort to showcase how he believed politics were more civil in previous decades.

He pointed out that he worked with racist and segregationist senators in the Democratic caucus in the 1970s.

"I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. He never called me 'boy'; he always called me 'son,'" Biden said. "Well, guess what? At least there was some civility. We got things done. We didn't agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you're the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don't talk to each other anymore."

One last thing…
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