Social media erupted Tuesday, June 6, after excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book “It Takes a Village” revealed that she employed Black inmates while serving as First Lady of Arkansas, leaving die-hard HRC supporters incensed.
In the passages, tweeted by Black Lives Matter activist and Sen. Bernie Sanders supporter @JeanetteJing, Clinton recalled the African-American inmates who worked in the Arkansas governor’s mansion she shared with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who led the Little Rock State from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992. For Hillary Clinton, the aspect of getting to know the inmates who worked around the house and in the yard was a bit “unusual” at first.
“When we moved in, I was told that using prison labor at the governor’s mansion was a longstanding tradition, which kept down costs,” Clinton wrote. “I had defended several clients in criminal cases, but visiting them in jail or sitting next to them in court was not the same as encountering a convicted murderer in the kitchen every morning.”
The former First Lady stuck to tradition, however, and eventually warmed up to the idea of having prison laborers in her home. In fact, Clinton wrote that she and her family became friends with “a few of them, African-American men in their 30s who had already served 12 to 18 years of their sentences.”
“I saw and learned a lot as I got to know them better,” she continued.
Despite these alleged friendships, Clinton stressed that, “We enforced rules strictly and sent back to prison any inmate who broke a rule.”
There’s no indication of whether the inmates were paid for their labor while working for the Clintons, but a 2015 article by The Atlantic highlighted that prisoners are meagerly compensated, if at all, in states like Louisiana and Mississippi that use prison labor. Many have likened the practice to modern-day slavery.
“Over the decades, prison labor has expanded in scope and reach. Incarcerated workers, laboring within in-house operations or through convict-leasing partnerships with for-profit businesses, have been involved with mining, agriculture and all manner of manufacturing from making military weapons to sewing garments for Victoria’s Secret,” according to The Atlantic. “Prison programs extend into the services sector; some incarcerated workers staff call centers.”
The fact the Clinton willingly complied with and took part in such an inhumane system didn’t go over well with supporters of the former presidential candidate, as many took to social media to express their outrage and disgust.
Hillary Clinton accepting modern-day slave institutions because the inmates there were some of "the good ones," is disgusting. https://t.co/3g4LH2sB2A
— erykah 🦋 (@queseryto) June 6, 2017
"Cost free labor" is rebranded slavery https://t.co/HELVzgmBfh
— koush (@koush) June 6, 2017
2016 was a choice between a white woman benefitting from black prison labor and a white man campaigning on sending black people to prison.
— Samuel Sinyangwe (@samswey) June 7, 2017
"How to Navigate Through Your White Feelings While Still Enjoying Slave Labour" by Hillary Clinton https://t.co/1CFri4mSq0
— sabdapalon rise (@revoluchine) June 6, 2017
Clinton has yet to comment on the matter.