In advance of her meeting with President Trump, Kim Kardashian told Mic, “I’ve been fighting very hard and am willing to do what it takes to fight for what’s right.” For Kardashian, what’s right in this instance is standing up for Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother who has served over 21 years in a federal prison as part of a life sentence for a first-time nonviolent drug offense. After learning about Johnson’s case through a Mic Opinion video last fall, Kardashian has been actively working on the case and has hired her personal attorney Shawn Chapman Holley to assist.
According to Vanity Fair, Kardashian has engaged in “months of back-channel talks” with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner that culminated in her visit to the White House on Wednesday. Kardashian’s intent was to make a legal argument to Trump to pardon Johnson. She was so serious about her efforts that she reportedly did not bring along the Keeping Up With the Kardashians crew, her publicist, or any of her kinfolk.
While I do not question Kardashian’s sincerity, I wish she had sat somewhere and ate her food instead of engaging that apricot-hued asshole.
I appreciate celebrities who use their platforms to advocate for social change. In the case of Kardashian, her advocacy started around 2015 when she started to speak on racism, gun control, and the death of Sandra Bland. There are many folks who otherwise might have ignored such issues if the reality star hadn’t brought these matters to their attention by way of her social media feeds. And it’s hard to fault Kardashian for being moved by Johnson’s story and making reasonable efforts to help her get the freedom she deserves.
Still, there’s something to be said of knowing who you are dealing with.
Kardashian may indeed be willing to do “what it takes to fight for what’s right,” but she placed her faith in a person who cannot and should not ever be trusted—particularly not on the matter of prison reform. This is the person who, just this March, called for the death penalty for drug dealers. This is the person who, even long after the Central Park Five were exonerated by DNA evidence, continued to profess their guilt. More importantly, this is the person who nominated Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as Attorney General. Even if Trump now regrets that decision, Sessions has proven to be the most effective cabinet member in terms of advancing the Trump agenda—namely, quietly and quite effectively reigniting the “War on Drugs.” As for Kushner and his prison reform advocacy, not only is it highly unlikely that his bill passes in Congress, the bill itself has been called out as a “sham.”
Kardashian may be willing to do “what it takes to fight for what’s right,” but she placed her faith in a person who cannot be trusted—particularly not on the matter of prison reform.
So although Kardashian might have been convincing in the moments she spent with Trump, he will likely forget everything he said to her by time I reach the end of this sentence, which leaves us with Sessions, who wants to lock up even more people on nonviolent offenses, and Kushner, who has yet to accomplish anything of significance despite the expansive portfolio handed to him. It’s no coincidence that under this administration the private prison industry has seen a boom and industry CEOs are frequenting Trump golf courses in gratitude.
Perhaps Kardashian could have deferred to others who have studied and fought for several years on prison reform for tips. This would include other celebrities like John Legend, who runs FREEAMERICA, a “multi-year culture campaign” to change the conversation about America’s prison problem.
Of course, her choice to take a meeting with Sweet Potato Saddam is not nearly as bad as her husband declaring a “love” for that racist, sexist, xenophobic, ignorant piece of shit. I know she wanted to do right by a just cause, but she tried to make a deal with the devil and his useless son-in-law. Those folks are unlikely to do anything about Alice Marie Johnson. They just wanted a photo op and much-needed good press. Kardashian meant well, bless her heart, but I hate that she provided them with that.