Rainbows and Politics
Published on December 31 2008
TheHill.com - Black lawmakers irked by Obama’s diverse Cabinet. Did I just read that headline right? I thought, perusing the papers last week. Why on earth would a "diverse" Cabinet irk ANYBODY? Aren't we supposed to be post-racial nowadays, beyond all of that affirmative-actiony type of thing? Diversity is a good, a wonderful, a positive thing, right? Right?
Obama tapped four blacks for Cabinet posts, including Eric Holder. If confirmed, Holder will be the first African-American attorney general. But Obama passed over black candidates in selecting Cabinet nominees for positions central to setting policy for urban America, such as the departments of Education, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development. “Did the African-American community probably expect more appointees at that level? Probably so,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), an early Obama supporter who has expressed an interest in filling Obama’s vacant Senate seat. “On balance, I’d say a great deal of thought went into the shaping of this Cabinet,” Davis told The Hill. “And he ended up with a real rainbow. But some people, sure, thought there should be a bit more color in it.” Obama’s Cabinet, if confirmed, will include 11 whites, four blacks, three Hispanics and two Asian Americans."Some people thought there should be a bit more color in it". Have I, or have I not, just read one of the most idiotic statements of the week. Nah, we don't make appointments according to qualifications, we make 'em to satisfy the demographics!! And out of 20 Cabinet positions, only NINE went to non-white Americans. To some people, that is a disappointment, apparently. Curious about the demographics of the US, I headed to the fount of internet wisdom where, about halfway down the page, I found this:
The U.S. population's distribution by race and ethnicity in 2006 was as follows: * Total population: 299 million * White alone: 74% or 221.3 million o Not including the 23.2 million White Hispanic and Latino Americans * Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, of any race: 14.8% or about 44.3 million * Black or African American alone: 13.4% or 40.9 million * Some other race alone: 6.5% or 19 million * Asian alone: 4.4% or 13.1 million * Two or more races: 2.0% or 6.1 million * American Indian or Alaska Native alone: 0.68% or 2.0 million * Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander alone: 0.14% or 0.43 million These figures add up to more than 100% on this list because Hispanic and Latino Americans are distributed among all the races and are also listed as an ethnicity category, resulting in a double count.Hmmm. Suddenly the lack of color complaint looks a little...well.... pissy? Okay, so then I wake up this morning and read this headline: Senate pick bogs Obama down in racial politics.
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's surprise decision to appoint Roland Burris to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat threatens to bog down the president-elect in racial politics. Suddenly a story that was about Chicago corruption is about race. And the "post-racial" president-elect whose transition has been bogged down in his hometown politics is dogged by questions of color. Obama on Tuesday quickly issued a statement that backed Senate Democrats, who said they would block Burris from becoming a Senator. But seeds of discontent emerged from a black lawmaker who suggested blocking Burris would be racist, and the head of a civil rights group, who stressed the importance of replacing Obama with another black senator. Obama was the only black member of the Senate, which would include no African-Americans unless one fills seats being vacated in Illinois, New York or Colorado.It's going to be fair interesting to see what happens if Burris gets certified by the Illinois Secretary of State, and this whole mess lands in the lap of the US Senate. Seating Al Franken, for example, while refusing to seat Roland Burris is kinda un-demographic, IMHO.