White Boys Club: Not Change I Can Believe In
I received an e-mail today from Democracy For America inviting me to participate in a "for fun" game of choosing who I would appoint for cabinet positions in the new Obama Presidency. I went to their website and made my selections for Defense Secretary, Secretary of State, Attorney General and Environmental Protection Agency.
However, I was struck by the extreme limitations of the choices presented. I'm not sure if this list was compiled by DFA alone or if it's based on what the Obama transition team has released as those under consideration, but either way, it's not good news: It's 67% white men. As a woman, as a resident of a state with a non-white majority, I found this incredibly depressing.
Of the 34 unique names listed (some of the women were repeated in more than category, as it common with tokens), 28 were male and 6 (17%) were female. Of the 34, 28 or 82% were white (except for one candidate whose race/ethnicity I don't know). Of the people of color, 4 (11.5%) were African-American males, 1 (3%) was an Hispanic male, and one female was possibly a woman of color -- no apparent Asians or Native Americans.
Reality -- which may have a well-known liberal bias but this is not a liberal Presidency, clearly -- if it were represented in these choices would show 51% women. This is an appalling gap. Likewise, our real population diversity in America is 66% non-Hispanic white, 15% Hispanic, 13% African-American, 6% "some other race" alone, 4% Asian, 2% multiracial, and 0.09% Native American/Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.
I was not able to document class background of these candidates, but given the biographies I did read, they are overwhelmingly educated at expensive, elite schools and/or come from economic privilege.
I don't know about you, but I voted for Change. Not tokenism as usual (now that we made one historic change), not paucity of imagination, and certainly not the tired old argument of "we just couldn't find any qualified candidates who weren't white men".
For all of you who argued "I support women in leadership, just not That Woman" or who argued "I'm not racist, I believe in civil rights", well, now is when you get put your ass on the line. Agitate for diversity and chances given to those who are absolutely out there but not being listed. We never needed fresh thinking more.
Here's the list of names provided, along with gender and racial status:
Ian Bowles -- white male
Carol Browner -- white female
Wesley Clark -- white male
Hillary Clinton -- white female
Richard Danzig -- white male
Tom Daschle -- white male
Artur Davis -- African-American male
Christopher Dodd -- white male
John Edwards -- white male
Dan Esty -- white male
Patrick Fitzgerald -- white male
Robert Gates -- white male
Al Gore -- white male
Chuck Hagel -- white male
Richard Holbrooke -- white male
Eric Holder Jr. -- African-American male
Tim Kaine -- white male
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. -- white male
John Kerry -- white male
Dennis Kucinich -- white male
Jonathan Lash -- white male
Richard Lugar -- white male
Ralph Nader -- white male
Janet Napolitano -- white female
Mary D. Nichols -- female, unsure of ethnicity or race
Sam Nunn -- white male
Deval Patrick -- African-American male
Colin Powell -- African-American male
Jack Reed -- white male
Lisa Renstrom -- white female
Bill Richardson -- Hispanic male
Kathleen Sebelius -- white female
Jim Webb -- white male
Anthony Zinni -- white male