One of the campaign promises President Biden has already kept is the one about nominating the most diverse cabinet in U.S. history, better representing the make-up of the country. As such, much has been written about how Republicans have focused their attacks on the women of color Biden has chosen. I have occasionally joined that chorus.
One of the ways that racism often rears its ugly head is the insinuation that a commitment to diversity means elevating less qualified women and people of color over competent white men. But based on my own personal experience in hiring, it actually has more to do with adjusting the qualifications you're looking for. As we watch the nominees Biden has chosen, that is the message coming through loud and clear.
For example, I recently reveled in the fact that this is our Secretary of Interior.
The woman of color that is currently coming under fire from Republicans is Kristen Clarke, Biden's nominee to run the Civil Rights Division at DOJ. During her confirmation hearing on Wednesday, we all got to see how intelligent, poised, and gifted she is. Take a look at how she handled an attempted smear from Sen. John Cornyn.
John Cornyn grills assistant attorney general nominee Kristen Clarke about an article she wrote for her college paper, seemingly oblivious to the fact it was satire pic.twitter.com/qMG3LNg2AO— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 14, 2021
Right wingers are in a bit of a tizzy over recent remarks by UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. While speaking about the Biden administration's decision to rejoin the UN's Human Rights Council, she talked about the need for some humility on our part.
Biden’s UN ambassador, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, tells the National Action Network that if America's going to join the UN’s Human Rights Council, we must acknowledge our own failures: “White supremacy is weaved into our founding documents and principles” pic.twitter.com/bYc5SyWkE1— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) April 14, 2021
I am struck by the fact that we have a UN ambassador who talks openly about how this country's racial history is personal for her - having grown up in the Jim Crow south. She also talked about "not forgetting our past or ignoring our present, but keeping both firmly in mind as we push for a better future."
Those are just three of the impressive women of color who, assuming Clarke is confirmed, will be leaders in the Biden administration. Pretty impressive, aren't they?
All of this reminded me of something Eric Wattree wrote back in 2013 in a post titled, "Why I Love Being Black."
Being Black in America gives one an education and perspective on life that you can't get anywhere else. That's not widely recognized, because public attention is often focused on the most dysfunctional in the Black community. But contrary to popular belief, that might not be an altogether bad thing, because it allows the excellence within the Black community time to incubate, untainted by the public eye. That's what allowed Barack Obama to explode upon the world stage as a fully developed powerhouse, and there are hordes of others just like him who are currently incubating in Black cocoons in suburbs and inner cities all over America...
So this is an exciting time for Black people, because we recognize that the world is about to discover what we already know - that there is nothing in the human experience more impressive than watching the development of a Black child, who's been dragged through the pits of Hell and the brutal experience of “American Exceptionalism,” then emerge on the other side as a well adjusted, uniquely eclectic, resolute, and learned product of his or her environment.
These are society's unsung heroes, and there are many more to come. They've been tested by fire, and they've prevailed. By the time they've reached thirty, they've faced down more adversity than the average American at eighty...So when I come into contact with the "strivers" in the Black community, I may not say it, but my heart whispers, "Thank you for your service."
As we are seeing with the Biden cabinet, those who have been incubating in cocoons all over American are stepping into leadership positions. A woman like Kristen Clarke has overcome challenges that make the one posed by Senator Cornyn pale in comparison. She has already been tested by fire and prevailed.
Even if on a subconscious level, women like Deb Haaland, Kristen Clarke, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield scare the shit out of those whose power and identity are dependent on the status quo of white patriarchy. That is because these women's very existence exposes the lie that has formed the foundation of their world view.