President Trump granted clemency on Wednesday to a Tennessee grandmother serving a life sentence for cocaine trafficking, after hearing a plea from reality television star Kim Kardashian West at the Oval Office.
Hate them or love them, the Kardashians are doing their part to better this country.
Kim Kardashian and her attorney, Shawn Holley, had worked with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner on Alice Marie Johnson's case for months. Then, after a quick stop at the White House, Johnson’s life sentence was commuted to time served after 22 years.
Despite the positive outcome, the meeting between Kardashian and Trump, which paved the way for the president's clemency, was widely criticized. “That’s not a serious thing to have happened, here at the White House,” said CNN's Jim Acosta.
I’m sorry, but how is advocating for a just cause not a serious thing to discuss with the president? Besides, Trump’s giving out pardons like they are candy — get them while you can.
Johnson's case is compelling. The African-American woman was convicted in 1996 of five counts of drug trafficking and one count of money laundering. Despite the fact that this was her first offense, she was sentenced to life in prison.
Sure, Kardashian came late to the sentencing reform issue. But here’s the thing: She has the access, she has a voice, and she has sway — whether we like it or not, she's a powerful activist. Should she not use her influence for good causes?
The USA TODAY Editorial Board has met with dedicated professionals working on prison reform and recidivism, some of them with direct access to top administration officials.Their work, as impressive as it is, didn't get Johnson clemency from the president.
Yes, Kardashian's money and influence are what got her that meeting with Trump, but so what? We should appreciate people who use their platform to advocate for what they believe is right.
This was not the first time a Kardashian has been in the nation’s capital doing advocacy work. Kourtney Kardashian met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in April to lobby for legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration power to investigate and prevent the sales of dangerous cosmetics. Kourtney has been vocal about her passion for non-toxic cosmetics for some time now. She saw an opening to use her platform and she took it. Wouldn’t you?
In November, on their reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians, sisters Kim, Kourtney and Khloe dedicated an episode to bring awareness to the issue of homelessness in California. Their efforts helped raise more than $1 million for Alexandria House, the shelter they visited.
Likewise, younger sibling Kendall Jenner dedicated time on camera to show the audience how to seek out information about an issue you’re not familiar with but would like to support — in her case, it was gun control.
The Kardashian-Jenner clan has effectively brought attention to serious issues to an audience that otherwise wouldn’t have cared or sought to learn about them. Maybe it’s time to stop having a knee-jerk reaction to attack the Kardashians — or anyone for that matter — and look at what they are actually doing. Maybe we're feeling guilty for our own lack of effort in making the world a better place.
If we have a reality TV president who has shown little to no personal growth since his time on the small screen, we can certainly back the advocacy work of a reality TV family that has shown understanding of the platform they’ve created for themselves.
Kim Kardashian got a 63-year-old woman’s sentence commuted by the president of the United States. Yes, in large part, she succeeded because she's Kim Kardashian, but she also succeeded because she took action and personal responsibility.
We can be mad about it, or we can do our part and advocate for the causes we believe in.