Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a meeting from her ceremonial office at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The vice president highlighted the role of Black women in the Biden-Harris administration and the coverage surrounding White House wins, among other topics.

By Tinashe Chingarande,
Special to the AFRO

Vice President Kamala Harris held a Zoom press briefing this week to highlight how the Biden-Harris administration has excelled in employing Black women and appointing them to the upper echelons of leadership.

“It was in South Carolina where the president, then as a candidate, said he was going to put a Black woman on the United States Supreme Court,” Harris said, referencing Biden’s speech at a 2020 campaign rally in South Carolina.  

“She has now been confirmed, and she will soon be known as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson,” Harris added.

In addition to Jackson’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, the Biden-Harris administration will also add former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to the White House staff as senior advisor for public engagement. 

[Bottoms] is someone who cares about family, community and the country,” said Harris. 

The Biden-Harris administration is one of the most diverse in history, according to political analysts. It has also achieved record numbers that the White House said —in an April 2021 press release— set a new bar for future administrations. 

Of the 1,500 agency appointees hired by the president during the first 100 days of his presidency, 18% identified as Black or African American, according to the press release. More than half of the president’s appointees were also women. 

Biden’s administration, however, is as diverse as former President Barack Obama’s and trails behind former President Bill Clinton’s, according to January 2021 data from the Brookings Institute. 

The frequency of non-white cabinet nominees in Biden’s administration tied with Obama’s at 40% while Clinton led with 43%, according to the data. 

Despite the prevalence of Black staffers in the White House, analysts still claim that the Black population is still underrepresented. 

“…the glaring absence of Black representation in economic and tech policy top leadership positions… [is] unacceptable,” said the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies president Spencer Overton in the organization’s 2021 analysis on the Biden administration’s first 100 days in office. The Joint Center is an American policy think tank headquartered in Washington D.C. 

According to the report, Black people comprised 22% of Biden’s general election voters and yet could still run the risk of being underrepresented overall if more Black individuals weren’t placed in leadership, mid-level and entry-level positions. 

To remedy this, more Black officials should be placed in economic and tech policy top leadership positions such as Assistant Secretary and Senior Executive Service— positions that are “feeder” for future leadership opportunities, the Joint Center recommended. 

It also called for the Biden administration to disaggregate and disclose data on Black representation by positions, agency, and gender. 

Harris is proud of the administration’s feats, nevertheless.

“We have so much to be proud of in terms of accomplishments,” she said.

She also added that the Black Press has been fair in its coverage of the White House’s accomplishments as compared to mainstream white media that hinges on the administration’s drawbacks in exchange for a wholesome picture of its activities. 

“We don’t expect special treatment to cover these accomplishments which will have a generational impact on many families,” she added. “[However], the Black Press has been fair.”

Harris announced at the end of the briefing that she would be hosting a Juneteenth barbecue at the official residence of the vice president residence where she would invite families from the D.C. community to talk about the history of the holiday.

“We’re going to have food and music and celebrate the principle of freedom and liberty,” she said.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!