White washed

Our good friend, and former board member Dawn, wrote this eloquent post for election day.  I begged her to allow me to share it here, and she kindly agreed.

Once again our upper chamber of congress will be an almost all white (mostly male) representation for the rich people of America.  This makes me so sad and angry.

In 2010 there was only four non-white senators–Roland Burris (black) two Asian-Americans from Hawaii (one seat is up for re-election this year) and Bob Menendez (Hispanic-American) from New Jersey.  When the new legislature is sworn in this coming January, there will be only two for sure minority members and none of those will be black/African-America.

What angers me even more is that in the history of the senate there have only be three popularly elected black senators.  THREE.  Six black senators have served–two of those in reconstruction Mississippi (they weren’t popularly elected), Roland Burris who was appointed and also not popularly elected.  Two of the senators who were elected, including now President Obama were to the same seat in Illinois and the remaining senator was elected in Massachusetts.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised.  This country is skewed and the power base has always been white, rich, protestant and male.  I never really gave it much thought before, but at times it hits me that our government is a republic and that those who represent us should represent us.  I can say that many of them represent me but starting Jan 2, 2011, none of them will represent my children or 13% of the population.  This just doesn’t seem right.  I look around the ivory (well UMSL isn’t quite Ivory) tower of academia and notice that lack of diversity.  I am shocked at how white washed our world is.  I am angry and I wish there was something I could do about it.

I voted today.  I have confidence that our black congressional members will be re-elected (they aren’t representatives of my district).  I long for a government that truly represents the people they serve.  I don’t have any answers but I long and hope for a day where my kids and all minority kids have members of both houses of congress to look up to.  The House has made strides in diversity but the Senate has lacked sorely behind.

I will hold out hope that one day I can tell my kids “you can be a Senator” if you want.  Because right now–I’m pretty sure in most places they couldn’t.



Thank you Dawn, for exploring hard topics while some of us think hard about what to make for dinner.  The dalai mama is a constant source of inspiration (and I love to see the newest pictures of your cuties).




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