Barack Obama has been getting hit for not diversifying the White House enough. From Roland Martin:
But while we hold the media accountable for the need to diversify their ranks, it's quite telling to see the lack of diversity in the White House's press office.
I got an e-mail Tuesday listing all of the various press folks and contact information, and hardly any African-Americans or Hispanics were listed. Granted, the deputy press secretary is African-American and the director of broadcast media is Hispanic. That's not sufficient.
Unfortunately, this shouldn't come as a shock, because the campaign press staff of then-Sen. Barack Obama was just as weak on diversity.
Still, if you were expecting Obama to be a shining beacon of diversity in the upper tiers of the government's elite, you are bound to be disappointed. This goes back to the age old "chicken and egg" diversity problem. The most common response to complaints about lack of diversity is that there just aren't women and minorities that would be considered qualified for such leadership positions. But how are we supposed to increase diversity if we never give anyone but an old, white man the opportunity to lead something?
Thirty-eight of the 56 appointees (68 percent) are men. (But white men, representing 46 percent of all picks, fall short of a majority. Nearly 70 percent of these appointees are white, 7 percent are of Asian or Pacific island descent, 16 percent are African American, and 7 percent are Latino.
I think it's good policy--and good politics--for the White House to hold diversity as a goal. It sends a message of inclusiveness to the country at large, and really to the world. But I'm mixed on this criticism. Leaving aside the fact, that Obama's picks actually have been more diverse then his predecessors, my trouble is that when I think about race and even gender, I mostly think about people who won't ever have chance to serve in a presidential cabinet. What's important to me is that an Obama's administration empower these folks to compete in ways that they haven't been empowered in decades.
I understand that this isn't an either/or--as in either diversity, or good policy. I also agree with Matt--there's reason for concern, given the demographics of the Democratic party and the country, about why there aren't more women in leadership positions. But for my part, I just can't muster much anger over there not being enough black people in the White House to take press calls. Especially given that blacks are overrepresented in the Obama administration. Especially when the cat gave his first post-election interview to Ebony, and his wife gave the first photo shoot to Essence.
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