“Do you know how many black Chiefs of Staff exist in the Senate? The whole Senate? One. Out of one hundred chances they had to hire a black chiefs of staff, they hired just one African-American,” the staffer said in disgust.
“But hold up, hold up,” the staffer continued. “I haven’t even given you the punchline yet. Guess who the one black Chief of Staff works for?”
“Who?” I asked — having no idea what the answer was.
“Tim Scott,” the staffer replied. “The lone black chief of staff in the entire United States Senate works for South Carolina Republican, Tim Scott. His office may be the most diverse in the entire Senate.”
It was like a punch to the gut. It’s one thing for the elected officials in one of the most important halls of government in our nation to be just 2% black — that could be blamed on voters or demographics or fundraising, but the fact that only one U.S. Senator has hired a black chief of staff, and that senator is a Republican, is an indefensible choice.
According to a recent study from the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, of the 336 senior staff positions in the U.S. Senate, 0.9% of them are held by African-Americans. That’s three people.
This is inexcusable and it has a devastating impact on the positions and priorities taken by senators themselves.
“When Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were shot and killed by police in Minnesota and Louisiana, I practically begged my boss to issue a statement. My request fell on deaf ears,” the staffer said,
It’s no wonder the Senate has done so little of substance on issues that truly matter to black folk.
The lack of diversity in the U.S. Senate is so severe that it was called “one of the world’s whitest workplaces” in a scathing critique authored by The Atlantic’s Russell Berman. Berman also highlighted how the online magazine, Diversity Inc., “the nation’s worst employer for diversity.”
The NBC News4 I-Team in Washington, D.C. actually discovered that Congress isn’t even following its own rules and laws on diversity. As Congress attempts to hold tens of thousands of employers feet to the fire on diversity all over the country, they aren’t even doing it themselves by tracking and reporting the most basic data on their hiring practices and records for women and people of color.
It's pretty awful, and King is right. It really is indefensible that fewer than 1% of Democratic staffers are black, when black voters make up more than 25% of the party as a whole.
Fix this, Democrats.
More than ever, heading into 2017?