One of President-elect Joe Biden’s early campaign promises was to build an administration that looks like America, and the incoming administration looks to be setting the tone early as women and people of color make up a large portion of the Biden transition team.
According to CNN, of the 500 people selected for roles on the transition team, people of color make up 46 percent. Overall, women make up the majority of the team at 52 percent. The makeup of the team’s senior staff members consists of 41 percent people of color and 53 percent women. This commitment to diversity also extends to the transition team’s advisory boards.
For example, President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board is made of 13 members; nine of which are people of color and five being women. “For months, the Biden-Harris transition has laid the groundwork for a Biden-Harris administration, and at the core of that work is an unrelenting commitment to diversity,” Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the Biden-Harris transition, told CNN.
“As we continue working full-speed ahead to Inauguration, our diverse group of leaders and staff are reflective of America — upholding President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris’ belief that through diverse voices we can develop and implement a policy vision to tackle our nation’s toughest challenges.”
The numbers are also reflective of the makeup of Biden’s campaign team, with people of color representing 46 percent of full-time staff positions, and 40 percent of its senior leadership positions.
Black men and women have significant roles in the transition team as well, leading over a quarter of the teams, according to ABC News. The duty of these teams is to review the current operations of federal agencies and provide a roadmap so that the staffers and appointees will be able to continue the work being done with little disruption.
“The agency review process will help lay the foundation for meeting these challenges on Day One,” Tony Allen, a transition advisory board member and president of historically Black Delaware State University, told ABC News. “We are building a team to reflect America and these Black leaders are dedicated experts in their fields.”
From ABC News:
Many of the review team appointees are graduates of historically Black colleges and universities.
They include Charmion Kinder, who will help lead or guide transition efforts at the Commerce Department. Kinder was a White House press aide to first lady Michelle Obama and served as a public affairs appointee at the departments of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development.
Patrice Simms will lead the transition effort for the Environmental Protection Agency. He is a prominent environmental attorney and legal scholar who was a deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama Justice Department’s environment and natural resources division.
Civil rights leaders and activists have pledged to push Biden’s administration to create more progressive policies on criminal justice, housing, the economy and more.
The teams currently acknowledge that the failure of the Trump administration to formally begin the transition process has impeded their ability to do their job. Typically, the General Service Administration would begin the process of “ascertainment,” which formally recognizes the winner of an election, and provides them with access to the funds and information necessary to ensure a smooth transition of power.
Because this country elected a petulant little bitch four years ago, that has yet to happen. A spokesperson for the GSA has cited the current legal battles the Trump administration is waging against the outcome of the election in multiple swing states as the reason behind the delay.
Still, setbacks notwithstanding, this commitment to diversity early on in the transition stage is promising and it’s nice to see that, as of now, it wasn’t just all talk. On the campaign trail, Biden repeatedly promised that his administration and Cabinet members would be diverse, and reflective of America’s demographic makeup.
“My administration’s going to look like America, not just my staff, the administration from the vice president straight down through Cabinet members to major players within the White House, and the court,” Biden said in June at a town hall regarding the issues facing Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
“It’s going to be a reflection of who we are as a nation.”