Seasoned political strategist Symone D. Sanders has accomplished a lot in her 31 years. Her most notable career moves include becoming the youngest national press secretary on record at age 25 while working for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ then presidential campaign in 2016.
However, out of all the directions Sanders’ profession has taken her, there was one turn she didn’t see coming, one that has since left her “hurt” as a result.
Sanders once envisioned herself to be the first Black press secretary of the United States of America. After joining then former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as an adviser, the chances of obtaining that press position appeared closer than ever before.
However, the job ultimately went to former President Barack Obama communications director Jen Psaki, a white woman from Stamford, Connecticut, who is 11 years Sanders’ senior. Still, it’s best to note that Biden’s cabinet is one of the most diverse in American presidential history, and includes the first openly gay cabinet secretary: Pete Buttigieg. Ultimately, Sanders, who once tackled a protester who attempted to storm the stage during Biden’s speech on Super Tuesday, landed the job as Vice President Kamala Harris’ chief spokesperson, and as a senior advisor.
New reports now state that Sanders was devastated after being overlooked for the position, especially for someone who had been often criticized for exceeding expectations and receiving nothing in return.
Civil Rights attorney and friend Bakari Sellers told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris that Sanders was “stung” after Biden chose Psaki over her, stating that she “spent a lot of capital” in that job. Sanders often put her own reputation on the line as when she spoke on Biden’s behalf after his interview with radio host Charlamagne Tha God, during which he expressed that if Black people had a “problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.”
Sanders took to Twitter, where she defended Biden in a series of posts, writing, “Vice President Biden spent his career fighting alongside and for the African American community. He won his party’s nomination by earning every vote and meeting people where they are and that’s exactly what he intends to do this November.”
She later added, “The comments made at the end of the Breakfast Club interview were in jest, but let’s be clear about what the VP was saying: he was making the distinction that he would put his record with the African American community up against Trump’s any day. Period.”
Sellers continued, “These moments were not few and far between. They would send Symone out to take those bullets… And then to be passed over; that hurt.” Sanders’ fiancé, Shawn Townsend, director of Nightlife & Culture, D.C., echoed Sellers’ sentiments telling the Post that his wife-to-be was “definitely hopeful that she would have that opportunity.”
Sanders did not shy away from mentioning her desire for the position in her biography “No, You Shut Up,” which debuted in May 2020. Elsewhere critics on social media didn’t mince their words, seemingly singing “I told you so” in various threads where news outlets reported Sanders’ feelings over the missed opportunity.
One Twitter user wrote, “I was thinking the same thing when she was passed over.” She added, “Did master’s bidding, got the same reward all field slaves get. Nothing.”
Another person commented, “Everyone who sells out will eventually get their wake up call. All that buck dancing to get a mediocre role in his administration.”
The remarks were harsh, to say the least. “They threw her big linebacker ass out there to use as a blocker and nothing more,” a third expressed. “She served her purpose well and was too eager to do so. No sympathy.”
Sanders’ once dream position will be up for grabs reportedly next year, now that Psaki has revealed that she is stepping down from her podium sometime in 2022. However, Sanders doesn’t appear as eager for the position anymore, telling Terris, “I am happy where I am with what I’m doing,” she said. “And it’s keeping me very very busy!”