By Sean Yoes
AFRO Senior Reporter
On Nov. 24, I posted on Facebook the following: Gotta be honest, I want Biden to go harder.
I was reacting to some of the initial choices made by President-elect Joe Biden in forming his administration, which will officially take over the executive branch on Jan. 20 at noon.
I was specifically reacting to the first public rollout of key cabinet picks on Nov. 23, and to be brutally transparent, the selection of too many White men in my opinion. Of the six top foreign policy and national security picks, three were White men, one was a White woman, another was a Latino man and only one was a Black woman.
One of the White men, Antony Blinken was selected as secretary of state, a position I wanted to see filled by a Black woman. The choice of Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations (although she has been an outstanding diplomat with a beautiful backstory) feels like a lateral move, almost a perfunctory pick and nod to the Obama years when Susan Rice held that position.
To be clear, I cast no disparagement upon the quality of Biden’s selections. In fact, after four years of Trump’s “Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” the appointment of true intelligence and foreign policy professionals is frankly a huge sigh of relief. However, in the wake of Stacy Abram’s Herculean heroics in Georgia (her contribution may ultimately be historic), the overwhelming support of Black voters generally, as well as Rep. Jim Clyburn’s resurrection of Biden, who rose like Lazarus in South Carolina, the lack of Black faces among these important selections triggered me. Apparently, it was also a problem for the aforementioned Clyburn.
“From all I hear, Black people have been given fair consideration. But, there is only one Black woman so far,” said Clyburn on Nov. 25, in reference to the selection of Thomas-Greenfield. “I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces. But, so far it’s not good.”
The response of my Facebook friends to last week’s mild social media admonishment of Biden was lukewarm at best. Their consensus was Biden was just getting warmed up, that he had to proceed with some caution given the hyper-polarized political atmosphere we find ourselves living through.
Apparently, I have smart, politically astute friends; what a difference a week makes.
This week Biden named his version of the Dora Milaje (for those of you who are not Marvel true believers, the Dora Milaje is the Black Panther’s all-women security detail) , an all-woman White House communications team. And part of that team includes several Black women and other women of color, including some familiar faces; Symone Sanders, who will be Vice President-elect Harris’ chief spokesperson and Karine Jean Pierre, who will be Biden’s deputy White House press secretary.
Also, Biden’s economic team includes Neera Tanden, a South Asian American woman, who is his choice to be director of the Office of Management and Budget. There is also Cecilia Rouse, who would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, and Adewale “Wally Adeyemo, who would be the first Black deputy Treasury secretary.
Now, my issue with President-Elect Biden isn’t diversity within his burgeoning administration; he seems to have cleared that hurdle with flying colors (pun intended). My consternation is over Biden’s insistence that he can somehow stay above the ubiquitous stench of arguably the most corrupt and criminal administration in the nation’s history. When asked if his administration would investigate the litany of possible crimes attributed to the Trump administration, Biden said he didn’t want the 45th President and his mess to dominate his incoming administration.
The problem with that is we are witnessing in real time a sitting U.S. President attempting a coup and that is not hyperbole.
Trump is actively attempting (although it is a hopelessly bumbling attempt) to overturn the results of a U.S. election and erase the will of more than 80 million Americans. Trump cronies are threatening death upon those who dare to counter the fake narrative of a “rigged election” (see Trump legal team member Joe DiGenova publicly stating former Trump election security chief Chris Krebs should be “shot”).
We witnessed this week Gabriel Sterling, the Republican voting system implementation manager in Georgia, begging Trump and Senate Republicans from Georgia to rebuke threats and intimidation targeting that state’s elections workers. “Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence,” said a visibly shaken Sterling during a press conference on Dec. 1. “Somebody’s going to get killed.”
Mr. President-Elect, good luck with somehow staying above the wafting stink of Trumpism because it’s choking all of us. Further, historically the policy of appeasement has failed over and over again often with catastrophic consequences. Biden may wish Trump would just simply go away, but I’m afraid it’s just not that easy. It will take decades to fully realize the damage Donald John Trump has done in four very long years.
Irish playwright and political activist George Bernard Shaw wrote the following in the preface of his play Major Barbara:
“Our laws make law impossible; our liberties destroy all freedom; our property is organized robbery; our morality is an impudent hypocrisy; our wisdom is administered by inexperienced or malexperienced dupes; our power wielded by cowards or weaklings; and our honor false in all its points. I am an enemy of the existing order for good reasons…”
Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Senior Reporter and the author of Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of America’s Great Imperiled Cities.