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Trump's Clemency Decision Sparked A Complicated Discussion About Kim Kardashian And Privilege

Some are praising Kardashian for helping to convince the president to grant a prisoner clemency, but others say black activists deserve the credit.

Posted on June 6, 2018, at 5:32 p.m. ET

Following a meeting with Kim Kardashian and President Donald Trump last week, the White House announced on Wednesday that Alice Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence for a first-time, nonviolent drug offense, would be granted clemency.

Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing.

"While this Administration will always be very tough on crime, it believes that those who have paid their debt to society and worked hard to better themselves while in prison deserve a second chance," said the White House of Trump's decision to commute Johnson's sentence.

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Kardashian began advocating for Johnson after a Mic Opinion video about the prisoner's case floated into her Twitter timeline last October.

Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

Kardashian said that she then enlisted her personal attorney to help her lobby the case.

“We’re on a mission now,” Kardashian said in an interview with Mic. “We want to do anything that we can to get her story out there.”

As a result of her advocacy, activism, and star power, Kardashian was able to score a meeting last month with the president's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as Trump himself.

“Justice has been served today, and it’s long overdue," said Brittany K. Barnett, one of Johnson's attorneys.

Alice Johnson / Via change.org

"We are extremely grateful and hope the President continues to use his clemency power to save lives," she said.

After news of Johnson's clemency spread across the net, Kardashian tweeted about wanting to "continue this important work" of prison and justice reform by partnering with activists who have long been advocating for these issues.

I hope to continue this important work by working together with organizations who have been fighting this fight for much longer than I have and deserve the recognition.

Kardashian also called Johnson to tell her the news and said the conversation "will forever be one of my best memories."

The phone call I just had with Alice will forever be one of my best memories. Telling her for the first time and hearing her screams while crying together is a moment I will never forget.

Many people were quick to praise Kardashian for using her celebrity status for good.

What Kim Kardashian did was incredible. Regardless of what you think of her. She went out of her way to give a voice to the voiceless. This is why celebrities, athletes, actors etc should never 'Shut Up And Dribble'. Social platforms are a force when used to enact change.

Kim Kardashian got Trump to grant clemency to Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender who was given a life sentence without parole. from this day forward, absolutely no Kim Kardashian slander is allowed on my black ass timeline. https://t.co/2L2xu0jZa6

Alice Marie Johnson has been pardoned. The 62 yr old grandmother will be heading home for the first time since 1997 after being convicted of drug & conspiracy charges. Her first offense. THAT is what matters. You did a good thing @KimKardashian

Unless you've saved someone's life, Kim Kardashian is now objectively a better person than you.

But others, like producer Adam Best, noted that the story says a lot about our cultural obsession with stars.

The Alice Johnson pardon is fantastic news... full stop.... but it is also a bit terrifying that a celeb like Kim Kardashian can suck up to Trump and instantly get results. America, presented by E!

And some wondered what will happen to people in the same situation as Johnson but who don't have a popular celebrity backing them.

Kudos to Kim Kardashian for using her influence to get Trump to pardon Alice Johnson but the fact that it took a celebrity to make this happen is truly terrifying for the thousands of men & women of color that are unfairly incarcerated without access to celebrities.

And although Kardashian acknowledged she was building upon the work many black activists have been doing for years, some pressed Trump to invite those people to the White House to discuss the issues.

I’m not commending Kim Kardashian or Trump for shit.....it’s black activists out here fighting for black people every single day. Give them a meeting to discuss their issues if you’re real, @realDonaldTrump

"Black protesters especially black women have been trying to fight the justice system and prison system," one person wrote.

Black protesters especially black women have been trying to to fight the justice system and prison system. Yet again Kim Kardashian is getting all the credit today. 😒

"If anything this just makes it more clear how prevalent 'privilege' really is," one person added.

If anything this just makes it more clear just how prevalent “privilege” really is https://t.co/UsvpibVtFE

"Helping ONE black woman doesn't negate over a decade of building an empire by stealing from black women and our culture," said another, referring to the Kardashians' much-discussed appropriation of black culture.

What @KimKardashian has done for Alice Johnson is great and I commend her for it. With that being said, helping ONE black woman doesn't negate over a decade of building an empire by stealing from black women and our culture. We still don't fuck with you. https://t.co/FgmXXrFzZZ

Still, MSNBC's Chris Hayes praised Kardashian for performing a "very rare trick."

Good for Kim Kardashian. She did an unambiguously good thing and also pulled off a very rare trick: engaging with Trump and somehow not coming away looking humiliated, degraded, and diminished.

This was echoed by Aminatou Sow, cohost of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend.

is kim kardashian the only person who's done a deal with trump and not been humiliated by him in the process? 2018 is amazing.

As for Kardashian, she said she hopes Johnson's release "is inspirational and gives hope to so many others who are also deserving of a second chance."

Angela Weiss / AFP / Getty Images

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