Monday, October 10

The Trump White House Diversity Plan and What it Means for You

When Dwight D. Eisenhower sent troops into Little Rock Central High School to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision on Brown v. Board of Education, it was clearly an attempt to promote inclusiveness. He had experienced segregation, seen it’s effects permeate every social fabric of America and came to the realization that the United States would be better of with a more inclusive society.

The 9 African American students who had been selected on the basis of excellent grades and attendance definitely deserved better than being escorted into classrooms by soldiers.

The fears of those who opposed desegregation certainly have not panned out.

Fast forward to 2018 just after the first African American president gracefully left the White House, there’s this open expression of nostalgia to make America Great again. Some complain that Make America Great Again is code for bringing back the days when African Americans were relegated to steward roles.

The White House has been dogged by questions on the lack of staff diversity. It gets even worse especially when you contrast it with the Obama administration. While Trump ultimately has the final say on who he hires and fires, past administrations have always been sensitive on such issues, perhaps more about getting the optics just right than anything else. Trump’s brash style is hardly ever about the optics. Maybe, that’s why he gets so much love from his supporters.

In the last several days, Trump’s surrogates have been on TV defending the president on why there’s no African American who holds a senior role in the West Wing. One surrogate on TV said Trump on his election victory night made it clear he will be a president for all Americans. Shortly after, she insinuated that back in the day, presidents who fought for the abolition of slavery and desegregation had no African American in senior White House positions, but made important policy decisions that benefited that community. Was she looking to rewind the clock to those days when America was Great?

What is more surprising is that the class of 2018 White House interns as seen in the picture above has almost no minority. This is 2018 and this is the future of the GOP. It may appear the GOP is bent on keeping its white stripe. That may not last long as demographic undercurrents of fast growing minorities force the GOP to change its image or slowly risk diminished representative status in the House and Senate. Gerrymandering can only last so long.

While one may be quick to blame the Trump White House, it is important to also note that the Republican Party has traditionally had a dearth of African Americans. That would normally translate into fewer White House positions for African Americans and a lot of things always seem to translate into fewer opportunities. That suggests certain things need to be implemented to address it.

The fewer number of minorities — African Americans, Mexicans, women and others in the Republican Party can be traced to the fact the party brands itself as, well, you guessed it – a white male party and it also has a history of stoking racial animosity. When it comes to politics, no party seems to be exempt from racial animosity, but when you seek to brand your party as white and male, racial animus and gender bias become commonplace.

Many Republicans have been caught on camera using derogatory terms against minorities. Hard to be the party for minorities when you tacitly encourage views that portray them in unflattering ways.

Several African Americans say blacks don’t want to work for the Trump White House because he is racist. They then turn around and fault him for not having African Americans in senior White House positions. And the few who get to work for him get badgered as sellouts. You certainly can’t have your cake and eat it.

What’s the rationale in choosing to be left out where you think you could actually make a difference? You don’t have to be Trump’s cheerleader. You can be a technocrat focused on the facts and getting the job done.

Without people from certain communities representing disparate elements of society, some voices are never going to be heard. One can take the example of the recent tax cut debate. Corporate America made away with billions of tax cuts because they had more people on the table advocating for them.

The view for those who believe in trickle down is that the tax cuts will result in more and of course higher paying jobs. But, that ain’t gonna happen. That is because the money is already flowing towards investments in places like China and South America where the economics make sense. Labour is cheaper and profits are much higher.

There was an era where many rational politicians had come to the realization that America is better off when it can tap the most out of everyone. That includes women, blacks and other minority groups. It was understood that providing a sound education, healthcare and every available resource to everyone would create even more competition in the workplace. And competition brings out only the best. Rational is not something that wins elections these days.

Today, identity politics seems to be growing. People have moved on from desegregation to ever more inexistent fights. White nationalism and immigration seem to be the bigger fights now. Many conservatives hold that to keep their white majority, they will have to implement draconian measures like restricting immigration, building a wall or making conditions for minority immigrants so harsh that they will self-deport. Even Fox News understands keeping its stellar TV ratings, advertisers and high profits depend on holding onto its mainly white audience.

To a lot of people diversity means different things. To some it may just be geographic, others language or skill set or culture or different industries. The bottom line is that it all boils down to having some kind of representation on the table.

Table? Yes table, where no one wants to miss the cake sharing opportunity and that is money, taxes. People want to get a fair share of what their community puts in. And for disadvantaged communities whose valuable contributions got swept away by others in the past, they too want a fair share of those contributions.

If the goal of people wanting to get closer to the table is to move resources into projects that favor their ideology – always the case, then there’s no better way to do that more transparently and effectively than to have as much of a diverse representation as possible.