Biden's U.N. Ambassador: 'White Supremacy Is Weaved Into Our Founding Documents and Principles'

Linda Thomas-Greenfield speaks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on her nomination to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations on Capitol Hill, January 27, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that racial equity is a top focus for her as “white supremacy is weaved into our founding documents and principles” in the U.S.

“When we raise issues of equity and justice at the global scale we have to approach them with humility,” Thomas-Greenfield said in remarks at the National Action Network’s virtual conference. “We have to acknowledge that we are an imperfect union and have been since the beginning and every day we strive to make ourselves more perfect.” 

She recounted a recent speech she gave before the UN General Assembly for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in which she spoke about how her great-grandmother was the child of a slave “just three generations back from me.”

The ambassador said that she grew up in the segregated south where she was bused to a segregated school.

“On the weekends, the Klan burned crosses on lawns in our neighborhoods,” she said. “I shared these stories and others to acknowledge on the international stage that I have personally experienced one of America’s greatest imperfections.”

“I’ve seen for myself how the original sin of slavery weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

She added that racism is not the problem of the person who experiences it, “racism is the problem of the racist and it is the problem of the society that produces the racist.”

“In today’s world, that’s every society,” she said, adding that white supremacy led to the “senseless killing” of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and “so many other black Americans.” Floyd and Taylor were killed by police officers, while Arbery was fatally shot while jogging in Georgia.

She noted that other groups, including Latinos, Asian Americans, Sikhs, immigrants, Muslims and Jews have all faced a spike in hate crimes in the U.S. in recent years. 

“That’s why the Biden administration has made racial equity a top priority across the entire government and I’m making it a real focus on my tenure at the U.S. mission to the United Nations,” she said.

On Biden’s first day in office in January, he issued a series of executive orders aimed at addressing racial injustice and gender equity.

“The president-elect’s equity agenda is grounded in advancing racial justice and building back better for communities who have been underserved, including people of color and Americans with disabilities, LGBTQ+ Americans, religious minorities, and rural and urban communities facing persistent poverty,” the White House said in a statement at that time.

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