Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the youngest Congresswoman elected, was attracting a lot of attention as of late. As the daughter of a widow who mopped floors and drove buses among other odd jobs, Ocasio-Cortez only recently found her life’s calling as a politician. Previously, she was bartending part-time.
Ocasio-Cortez was sworn into the House of Representatives as a representative of the Bronx in New York City. She is outspoken in the name of economic, social, and racial justice and unashamed of her humble beginnings.
On Saturday, Ben Mitchell, an associate producer at CBS News, tweeted pictures of each person on the 2020 Election team. Saturday night, Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on CBS News’ 2020 Presidential Election coverage team’s lack of diversity.
Specifically, she pointed out there is not a single Black person on the coverage team of reporters. Among the eight campaign reporters and four associate producers, there are people from different races represented. But Ocasio-Cortez was critical because there seems to be no Black person involved. Given there are other people of color on the team, this seems to be a coincidence, not malicious intent from CBS News. Out of 12 team members, five are women. Nitpicking, this proportion would be problematic as well. Less than half of the team is female.
However, as Ocasio-Cortez faced backlash for her tweet, she made a few interesting points. Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, has been supporting Nazis, white identity politics, white supremacy, and anti-immigration policies for years. But he is not getting half as much media attention as Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) who called President Trump a mother*ucker when she called for his impeachment.
To the New York Times last Thursday, King pondered when “white supremacist” and “Western civilization” became offensive rhetoric. He also said he opposes illegal immigrants but has no problems with immigrants. That is, immigrants who assimilate into American values, values King says were brought to the US from white Europeans. In a public statement after his New York Times interview, King defended himself as a nationalist, not a proponent of white nationalism and white supremacy. His Twitter following and political endorsements and activities say otherwise. With people like President Trump and Mr. King, Republicanism is turning into a conservative party geared toward whiteness and racism.
Ocasio-Cortez may have a point and her seemingly exaggerated concern is not to be overlooked after all. Understanding the US- a country offering opportunity and upward mobility- thus, admired by many, is understanding the melting pot of cultures and skin colors characteristic of the US. Race, while it is not everything and all one should occupy oneself about, is relevant and can be deterministic for an organization. Having a diverse team, with people representing each race, adds perspective and rightfully reflects the soul of America for what it is, a country home to millions of people who are white but are also not.
Featured image via AP