The Congressional Black Caucus this week scolded President Obama about his White male-dominated cabinet.

The president’s second term in the White House began amid a cacophony of criticism that the president had surrounded himself mostly with White men and not enough women and minorities.

In January, CBC Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) wrote the president asking him to consider her colleagues Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for the posts of Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Labor, respectively.

Now, she is taking the president to task for his failure to consider those recommendations or to otherwise nominate an African American to head a department.

“I am concerned that you have moved forward with new cabinet appointments and yet, to date, none of them have been African American,” she told the president in a letter dated March 11. “You have publicly expressed your commitment to retaining diversity within your cabinet. However, the people you have chosen to appoint in this new term have hardly been reflective of this country’s diversity.”

Attorney General Eric Holder is currently the only African American member of the Obama cabinet. But he is a holdover from the president’s first term and it is not certain that he will serve through a second Obama presidential term.

There are two African Americans with cabinet rank but who are not part of the order of succession for the presidency: U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. Kirk has announced he is stepping down effective March 14.

This absence of diversity among Obama’s top advisors and agency heads has frustrated Blacks, a feeling that Fudge said “is compounded by the overwhelming support” the president has received from that community.

“The absence of diverse voices leads to policies and programs that adversely impact African Americans,” the Black lawmaker added.

“As you continue choosing your critical advisors, we want to stress the importance of ensuring every community has a seat at the table,” Fudge added. “The absence of diverse voices leads to policies and programs that adversely impact African Americans.”


Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO