Clinton's exchange with the activists was respectful, but there were some tense moments. The first video starts with Jones spending three minutes going over America's history of violence toward black people, ending with Clinton's role in perpetuating mass incarceration. He concluded with a thoughtful question on what that means to Clinton personally — "Now, they may have been unintended consequences, but now that you understand the consequences, what in your heart has changed that's going to change the direction of the country?" he asked — and a Clinton aide interrupted before she could answer.
Clinton started off with a standard politician answer, recapping her lifelong advocacy for minority children, then offered some insight into how she wants to frame the issue on the campaign trail. "Once you say that this country has still not recovered from its original sin, which is true, the next question by people who are on the sidelines, which is the vast majority of Americans, is 'So, what do you want me to do about it?'" she said. "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."
She added that a specific agenda is crucial because "you can get lip service from as many white people you can pack into Yankee Stadium and a million more like it who are going to say, 'We get it, we get it. We are going to be nicer.' That’s not enough, at least in my book."
Now, she's 100% right about this. Changing the minds and the actions of white America is the key to stopping racism in this country, and Clinton is going to have to sell that change to people.
Things got more tense in the second clip, as Jones objected to Clinton suggesting that Black Lives Matter needs to have clearer policy goals to get the rest of the country onboard. "I say this as respectfully as I can: If you don’t tell black people what we need to do, then we won’t tell you all what you need to do," Jones said, adding that "this is and has always been a white problem of violence" and there isn't much black people can do to stop it.
"Respectfully, if that is your position, then I will talk only to white people about how we are going to deal with the very real problems," Clinton snapped. Jones said it's a "form of victim blaming" for Clinton to tell Black Lives Matter what it "needs to do to change white hearts." While Clinton avoided opening up about her personal culpability in America's race problem, that provoked a passionate explanation of how she sees politics:
Look, I don't believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate. You're not gonna 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 ... 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 ten years having the same conversation.
She's right about some things, but wildly off-base on others. Blaming white people who perpetrate violence against black lives isn't victim blaming when it's been happening for 400 goddamn years.
However, Clinton is right when she says unless laws and more importantly entire systems change in this country, the situation will not improve. The issue has always been how to best go about catalyzing that change. It's a revolutionary change that will require a revolutionary act. My question is how BLM plans to get that done with a Republican Congress. It's not going to happen until that ends. What policies can a Democratic president enact further that a Republican Congress won't destroy? We've had seven years of that. How do we win back Congress and the state legislatures and governor's mansions?
Yes, it's important to ask if Clinton the best person to help bring that change about of the candidates available. Jury's still out on both her and Sanders. I'm hearing a lot of why, but nowhere near enough on how, from anyone involved. That goes for the Democrats as well as BLM.