Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Rice urges more blacks in foreign policy

I found this today on CNN Wire.

Rice urges more blacks in foreign policy
Posted: 05:59 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday there are too few black Americans in the State Department.

“I have lamented that I can go into a meeting at the Department of State — and as a matter fact I can go into a whole day of meetings at the Department of State — and actually rarely see somebody who looks like me. And that is just not acceptable,” Rice said.

She was delivering the keynote speech at the annual Conference of the White House Initiative on National Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Noting that last year such colleges received $5 million in scholarships and grants from the State Department, for language training, study abroad and exchange programs, she said, “It’s good for the students but it is good for America, too. Because when I go around the world I want to see black Americans involved in the promotion and development of our foreign policy. I want to see a Foreign Service that looks as if black Americans are part of this great country.”
–From CNN’s Charley Keyes

Quite a few blogs are all abuzz with this, particularly some of the more right-leaning ones. The Right Rant, after spewing some racist drivel about the black community, said: "If Condi is to be believed, there are vast numbers of qualified blacks waiting to become diplomats or serve otherwise in the foreign service but, white administrations refuse to hire them because they're black.

Condi diminishes her own impressive accomplishments by invoking race as a job qualification. And she casts doubts on the qualifications of blacks who DO get hired for their experience, education, and knowledge and not their skin color.

How about another option? As an American Indian, I am painfully aware that there are only 35 American Indians in all of the Department of State. So when Secretary Rice says she can go through a whole day and see few people who look like her, I get it. I see none. And I don't believe, and I doubt she does, that the reason for this is that "white administrators refuse to hire them." I do think there are plenty of qualified African Americans and American Indians out there who just don't know that the State Department is an option. I certainly didn't, and never even considered it until my partner joined.

What I think she is saying, and I agree, is that we need to make a conscious effort to reach out to other communities. No one is saying to hire blacks or Indians for their color. But maybe we could recruit a little better at traditionally black or Indian universities to let them know of the opportunities at State. Because the Foreign Service SHOULD look like America. The Foreign Service has been accused of being "pale, male and Yale." We should send men and women of all hues, religions, sexual orientations, etc., abroad to represent us because that is what America is.


hannah said...

Princess Sparkle Pony's take on this is pretty amusing... I find it sad/hilarious that I can refer to such a name as a commentator on DoS.

Z. Marie said...

It would be even better if we could get to students while they're still in high school or just starting college. By the time they're in their junior or senior year of college, most of the best students already have a plan. If they're aware of the Foreign Service earlier, it increases the chances it'll be a part of any such plan.

Digger said...

I agree...I suspect had I known in high school, I'd have considered it much sooner. I have always wanted to travel, even before I had any idea that it was a realistic goal, and this job pays you to do it.

And Hannah, I think Princess Sparkle Pony is hysterical!

modestmuse said...

I'm on my way!

I only discovered the Foreign Service after a convoluted journey beginning at the Smithsonian Institution Web site. It was definitely not well advertised.

I hope (if all goes well) one day I can visit schools like the tiny Midwestern one I graduated from to encourage kids to follow a path to a FS career.

Consul-At-Arms said...

I've quoted you and linked to you here: http://consul-at-arms.blogspot.com/2008/09/re-rice-urges-more-blacks-in-foreign.html