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Joe Biden’s drive for diversity in top political jobs is only an illusion of change

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Joe Biden, you may have heard, is hiring a lot of women. During his campaign, he promised to appoint the most diverse cabinet in American history. So far, he has hired an all-female communications team and lined up several other women for senior jobs, some of which have never been filled by a woman before. As with the selection of his vice-president, Kamala Harris, the reception has been rapturous. What better way to fumigate Trumpism than by filling the executive with qualified women in senior positions? “There goes the old boys’ club,” says NBC. An article in the Washington Post lists four reasons why Biden’s cabinet should be 50% women: he owes it to them; it looks bad when other countries such as Finland and South Africa have got there first; qualified women are easy to find; and finally, it’s just about damn time.

Behind the scenes, there is pressure on Biden to make good on racial diversity and appoint more people of colour in general. Some Democratic members of Congress have called for at least five more Latinos to be appointed to senior cabinet positions. Asian American and Pacific Islander lawmakers have written that it will be “deeply disappointing if several AAPIs are not nominated”. Like victors dividing the spoils of war, a diverse array of Americans is scrambling to stake a claim in the new administration.

This could be the start of something positive. But it could equally be a dead end. Diversity has two paths. The first is one important means with which to address the structural inequalities that produce the marginalisation of those groups in the first place. The second is an end in itself. In a sort of........

© The Guardian

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