Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Where Race In Congress Should Not Matter

A new report by the Congressoinal Black Caucus raises concerns that a number of committees, chaired by whites, have far too few black staffers and aides serving on them. I have no reason to doubt the CBC's numbers, but I strongly disagree with how problematic that is.

Besides drawing on seasoned veterans (yes, not every congressional staffer is a rich college intern), most committee chairs use their privileged position to reward their home constituencies. Meaning, their committees tend to reflect their home districts. Committees chaired by blacks have more black staffers because their district is black. You really wouldn't expect an Agriculture committee or its subcommittees, which are manly populated by Plains state legislators that represent states and districts that are upwards of 90% white to have large numbers of minorities.

Does it affect policy? Yes. But, so does not having strict gender parity too.

A better strategy to achieving real parity is for the CBC to continue focusing its efforts on helping African Americans get through this terrible recession in one piece.


The Angry Independent said...

You made some points here. The racial make-up of districts has to be considered.

I think this is part of the CBC's ongoing effort to remain relevant. They have to highlight any disparities they can find... even when it may be a little misleading or more complicated than what we see at the surface.

Of course I have begun to doubt the need for the existence of a CBC at all (although i'm usually alone in that opinion).

But if they are going to exist and if they want to be relevant, they will have to adjust and focus their energy on real day-to-day issues that are impacting their constituents. And I have a feeling that the racial make-up of the Congressional support staff is probably not among the most important issues- not even in the top 10 of the issues- that poor and minority families are most concerned about in Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Chicago, L.A., and in economically depressed areas across the Country.

Andre said...

AI, I was thinking the same thing: this report is just one antic in the many from the CBC to have a voice. Except for the fact that they are individually voted into Congress, they are the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, Dysons and Smileys on the Hill. Screaming about racial issues at the top of your lungs - in areas where the issue doesn't belong - seriously undermines legitimate instances. Instances perpetrated by our GOP friends a lot lately.

Good post, King.