: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: U.S. Mission to the United Nations / Source of Photo: https://usun.usmission.gov/our-leaders/our-ambassador/

Linda Thomas-Greenfield

  • Had a 35-year career in the Foreign Service from 1982-2017
  • Was named U.S. Ambassador to the UN by President Biden in 2021
  • Views the United States as a nation infested with white racism
  • Supports the Black Lives Matter movement
  • Has repeatedly said she is unconcerned about China’s growing influence in Africa

Linda Thomas-Greenfield was born in Baker, Louisiana, on November 22, 1952. She earned a BA degree from Louisiana State University in 1974, and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1975. She then taught political science at Bucknell University before launching a 35-year career in the Foreign Service in 1982. During that 35-year period, Thomas-Greenfield served as: (a) Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration from 2004–06; (b) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs from 2006–08; (c) U.S. Ambassador to Liberia from 2008–12 (with the Barack Obama administration); (d) Director General of the Foreign Service, as well as Director of Human Resources, at the State Department from 2012–13 (also under Obama); and (e) Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs from 2013-17 (under Obama as well). In addition, she held foreign postings in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica.

Thomas-Greenfield’s Positions on, and Ties to, Communist China

At a June 2, 2006 press briefing, Thomas-Greenfield was asked whether she was “concerned” about China’s growing levels of investment in Africa. She replied: “I think concern is not the word. I think we’re watching it very closely. But there is lots of room for every country to do trade and development in Africa.”

In a 2013 hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Thomas-Greenfield again stated that she was not troubled by China’s growing influence in Africa: “When the playing field is level, I am confident that American firms can compete successfully with anyone in the world, including nations such as China. We do not view U.S. and Chinese engagements in zero-sum terms. Chinese efforts to build infrastructure and enable economic growth are much needed, but we will also continue to encourage China to play a constructive role through activities that are consistent with international norms.”

In 2014, Thomas-Greenfield reiterated her belief that China’s increased influence in Africa was not a matter of concern for the United States, saying: “[N]o, we’re not concerned about China having a close relationship with people in the region. … [W]hat we say to the people of Africa is that they have to ensure that when they negotiate with the government of China, that they get the best deal possible for the people of their country…. [W]e do want Africa to benefit from the largesse that China may be able to provide for them, and we want to work with the Chinese to ensure that what they are providing helps to pursue a prosperous Africa for all of its people in the future.”

In 2019, Thomas-Greenfield became a senior vice president at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington, D.C.-based global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm whose client list includes a number of senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party.

In October 2019, Thomas-Greenfield gave a speech at the Confucius Institute at Savannah State University in Georgia, a U.S.-based affiliate of the Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters administered by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In her address, Thomas-Greenfield again praised the investment and lending practices that China had been pursuing in Africa. Central to those practices was the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) which China had adopted in 2013. Under the banner of BRI, China was lending vast sums of money to economically struggling countries in Africa that, if they were subsequently unable to repay the loans, would be required to turn over strategic assets, such as mines and ports, to China as compensation. BRI was designed to gain China political and economic leverage over poorer nations. As the Daily Wire noted in April 2020: “China is now reportedly looking to exploit African nations that are struggling as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, demanding that they turn over natural resources if they can’t pay up.”

In February 2021, Republican Senator Bill Hagerty provided a real-world example of the potentially catastrophic consequences inherent in China’s BRI activities:

“Look at … Linda Thomas Greenfield, she clearly doesn’t get it. She’s praising China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Africa. Look no further than Ethiopia and what happened there with this Belt and Road Initiative. When [current World Health Organization Director-General] Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] was the health minister and the foreign minister [of Ethiopia], the Ethiopian government took billions of dollars in the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. Then, when it was necessary, China had Dr. Tedros running the WHO and he stepped right up and parroted their line and helped cover up the [COVID-19] pandemic when they wanted him to do it. This is textbook debt-trap diplomacy, they’re using their influence for nefarious means, and I cannot imagine a U.N. representative who does not understand that.”

The controversy that surrounded Thomas-Greenfield’s 2019 speech at the Confucius Institute was due not only to its laudatory tone vis-a-vis China’s economic exploitation of Africa, but also to the nature of the venue in which the speech was delivered. According to a February 2021 Daily Wire story, a report from the Senate’s Permanent Select Committee on Investigations “noted that China’s influence in U.S. classrooms through Confucius Institutes was of particular concern to U.S. officials, especially Republicans,” because those Institutes “are funded and staffed by the Chinese Ministry of Education, and in numerous cases they have censored curricula and events.” Meanwhile, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported that: “Around 500 K-12 schools and 65 colleges in the U.S. have partnerships with the Confucius Institute U.S. Center” in Washington, D.C. “… [T]he Beijing-based Confucius Institute Headquarters … also known as Hanban, is affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education. Many of Hanban’s directors are members of the Chinese Communist Party or have close ties to the organization.”

In January 2021, Thomas-Greenfield said that she believed the U.S. and China could collaborate in Africa to promote values such as “good governance, gender equity, and the rule of law.” “I see no reason why China cannot share in those values,” she wrote in an editorial published by the Washington Post. “In fact, China is in a unique position to spread these ideals given its strong footprint on the continent.”

Shifting America’s Focus Away from Religious Freedom, and Toward LGBTQ Issues

According to writer Hedieh Mirahmadi, who is an Islam-to-Christianity convert, Thomas-Greenfield, during her tenure with the Obama administration, participated in President Obama’s deviation away from America’s previous traditional focus on “promoting religious freedom and thereby preventing persecution abroad” – a priority that had become “a fundamental part of U.S. foreign policy through the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.” Under Obama, said Mirahmadi, “the whole field of religious freedom took a back seat to LGBTQ issues.” Consequently, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield worked assiduously to reduce U.S. funding to foreign agencies that “discriminated against the LGBTQ community.”

Downplaying the Islamic Supremacist Motivations Underlying the Terrorist Atrocities of Boko Haram  

Testifying at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing in November 2013, Thomas-Greenfield, in her role as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, stated that the brutal activities of the Nigerian-based terrorist organization Boko Haram “call our attention not just to violence, but also to poverty and inequality in Nigeria.” But the barbarism of the well-funded Boko Haram had nothing whatsoever to do with poverty and inequality in Nigeria; it was rooted in the radical Islamic supremacist doctrine that animates the organization.

Also in her November 2013 testimony, Thomas-Greenfield gave voice to a State Department talking point which claimed that while Boko Haram “had killed numerous Christians,” it had killed “an even greater number of Muslims.” But this was untrue. As the Working Group on Nigeria — a coalition of Christian and human-rights groups based in Washington, D.C. — noted in a November 20, 2013 letter to Thomas-Greenfield: “Based on 2012 data, Nigeria alone accounted for almost 60 percent of Christians killed globally. Our statistics also show that overwhelmingly more Christians than Muslims have been targeted and killed by Boko Haram. Last year, our database shows that attacks on Christians represented 46%, Muslims 3%, Government 20%, other categories accounted for the rest.…”

Praising the Black Lives Matter Movement

In a September 13, 2016 “Conversation on Race in America and Foreign Policy” event sponsored by the U.S. State Department, Thomas-Greenfield spoke positively about the goals and activities of the Black Lives Matter movement. “I don’t think the Black Lives Matter movement is accusing whites of being racists writ large,” she said. “What they are arguing is that we need to address this issue of young black men being killed by policemen. That’s their movement. That’s the goal of their movement.”

In a March 19, 2021 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Thomas-Greenfield lauded Black Lives Matter as a noble and necessary initiative for “racial justice,” and as a vital force in the battle “to dismantle white supremacy at every turn.”

On April 14, 2021, Thomas-Greenfield was a guest speaker at the 30th Annual Summit of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, where she spoke approvingly about “the way the Black Lives Matter movement spread this past summer” in the aftermath of the high-profile death of George Floyd in May 2020.

Fellow in African Studies at Georgetown University

From the fall of 2017 to the spring of 2019, Thomas-Greenfield was a distinguished resident fellow in African Studies at Georgetown University. She has been a non-resident fellow there ever since.

Thomas-Greenfield & the Albright Stonebridge Group

In 2019, Thomas-Greenfield became a senior vice president at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington, D.C.-based global strategic advisory and commercial diplomacy firm whose client list includes a number of senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

On November 23, 2020, shortly after Thomas-Greenfield announced that she would be taking took a leave from her position with Albright Stonebridge, President Joe Biden announced that he planned to nominate her as the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on January 27, 2021, and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 23, 2021, in a 78-to-20 vote. She officially took office two days later.

Condemning American Racism in a Speech to the UN General Assembly

In a March 19, 2021 address to the United Nations General Assembly, Thomas-Greenfield lauded The 1619 Project for shining light on America’s “dark history of chattel slavery,” which she described as “the original sin of America” – a sin that “weaved white supremacy and black inferiority into our founding documents and principles.” She also praised The 1619 Project for having put “the consequences of slavery, and the contributions of Black Americans, back at the center of our history and of our national narrative.” Asserting that the timeline of “this terrible history” formed “a direct line from slavery to lynchings to segregation to mass incarceration” and “the impact it is having on our [black] people today,” Thomas-Greenfield praised Black Lives Matter as a noble and necessary movement for “racial justice,” and as a vital force in the quest “to dismantle white supremacy at every turn.”

Viewing America as a nation thoroughly infested with white racism, Thomas-Greenfield said it was necessary to address not only the country’s ubiquitous anti-black hatred, but also “other kinds of hate, too.” Specifically, she explained: “The FBI has reported a spike in hate crimes over the past three years – particularly against Latino Americans, Sikhs, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and immigrants. The most recent data shows hate crimes rising to a level not seen in over a decade. And that doesn’t even capture the bullying, discrimination, brutality, and violence that Asian Americans have faced since the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Moreover, Thomas-Greenfield recalled her own personal exposures to racism: “I grew up in the segregated South. I was bused to a segregated school, and on weekends, the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on lawns in our neighborhood. When I was in high school, I was asked by a little girl, for whom I babysat, if I was an N-word because her dad had used that word for me. I know the ugly face of racism. I lived racism. I have experienced racism. And I survived racism.”

Condemning American Racism in a Speech to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network

On April 14, 2021, Thomas-Greenfield was a guest speaker at the 30th Annual Summit of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, where she lauded Sharpton and his organization for their purportedly outstanding work: “Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you for never backing down. Your lifetime of activism is an inspiration to us all. So long as the world wants for justice, I feel better knowing you and the National Action Network will demand it. […] I remain hopeful in part because of the influence and the insistence of organizations like yours.”

In a similar vein, Thomas-Greenfield spoke approvingly about “the way the Black Lives Matter movement spread this past summer” in the aftermath of the high-profile death of George Floyd in May 2020. Lamenting “how the original sin of slavery,” which had “weaved white supremacy into our founding documents and principles,” continued to inject a large measure of toxicity into American society, she enumerated various ways in which racism had manifested itself in recent times across the United States:

  • “Take the pandemic, for example. COVID-19 is sometimes referred to as the great equalizer. After all, it has affected everyone. But the truth is, it hasn’t affected us all equally. Instead, it has exacerbated existing inequalities. We all know that poor communities and communities of color are being hit hardest by the virus and receiving the fewest resources. The pandemic is also acting as a force multiplier, taking every threat to Black people – particularly women and girls – and compounding the danger.”
  • “In America, [racism] takes many forms. It’s the white supremacy that led to the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many other Black Americans. It’s the spike in hate crimes over the past three years – against Latino Americans, Sikh and Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, and immigrants. And it’s the bullying, discrimination, brutality, and violence that Asian Americans face every day, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19.”

Because of America’s many historical failings, said Thomas-Greenfield, it was in no position to lecture other nations vis-a-vis their various human-rights and civil-rights transgressions: “[W]hen we raise issues of equity and justice at the global scale, we have to approach them with humility. We have to acknowledge that we are an imperfect union and have been since the beginning.”

Echoing a theme which she had touched on during her United Nations address in March 2021, Thomas-Greenfield again discussed her own personal experiences with racism — not only in America, but in other countries as well: “Across four decades and four continents in the foreign service, I experienced racism in countless international contexts. From overly invasive searches at airports, to police racially profiling my son, to being made to wait behind white patrons for a table at a restaurant. Racism was and continues to be a daily challenge abroad. And for millions, it’s more than a challenge. It’s deadly.”

Additional Information

In addition to the activities and affiliations cited above, Thomas-Greenfield has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Endowment for Democracy, and as an Advisory Council member of National Security Action, an organization that pledges a commitment to “advancing American global leadership and a strong, unified progressive foreign policy.”

Further Reading: Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs: Who Is Linda Thomas-Greenfield?” (Allgov.com, 7-5-2013)); “Linda Thomas-Greenfield, 1952-” (Blackpast.org); “Ambassador (ret.) Linda Thomas-Greenfield” (Institute for the Study of Diplomacy).