The White House is having trouble naming one single African-American in a senior role in the West Wing.
When asked by NBC News to identify identify “any African-American serving in a senior role in the West Wing,” it took White House communications officials two days to reply with the name Henry Childs II. According to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Childs is working at the White House’s Office of Public Liaison on loan from the Commerce Department and has taken on many of the responsibilities that were once carried out by Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who was fired from the White House in December 2017 and is also African-American. Childs’s title is different from the one Manigault-Newman had.
Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to the president, was asked separately to name African-Americans working in the White House during an appearance on ABC’s “This Week”. She first named the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, who does not work in the White House and then named Ja’Ron Smith, whom she said helps Jared Kushner on the issue of prison reform. Smith doesn’t work at the White House either, but a White House spokesperson later told NBC that Childs and Smith also collaborate on economic development issues for “urban communities and urban revitalization.”
The timing of the question of African-American representation in the White House highlighted the urgency of the issue. The U.S. marked the anniversary of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that turned violent and left one counter-protester dead. In addition, Manigault-Newman kicked off a book tour about her time at the White House by saying President Trump was “truly a racist” and claiming she had heard a recording of the president using the n-word. After Manigault-Newman was fired in December 2017, Sanders said the White House was committed to hiring more African-Americans for senior leadership roles.