The Biden administration is the most diverse United States presidential cabinet to date. Of course, Kamala Harris is the first Black South Asian woman to become Vice President, but Joe Biden’s entire Cabinet, as well as his list of other appointees, is made up of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. After he won the election, Biden vowed to develop a Cabinet that “looks like the country.” Among his cabinet, over 50 percent are female, about 50 percent are people of color, and though we don’t have a clear number, it will undoubtedly be the most LGBTQ+ inclusive cabinet ever. We also have our first Native American cabinet secretary, Deb Haaland, and first trans cabinet member, Dr. Rachel Levine. There is still work to be done to make sure the Cabinet mirrors the country, but this is huge progress.
Among Biden’s picks, there are many women who are breaking new ground. If approved by the senate, Neera Tanden will be the first woman of color to lead the Office of Management and Budget, which is in control of the whole federal budget. Janet Yellen (former Federal Reserve chair) is the first woman to lead the Treasury Department. Women everywhere have been inspired and touched by the representation in Biden’s cabinet. Charlotte C ‘24 agrees, saying “It makes me feel very empowered to be a woman. It is the first time I have started to have faith in our country, and it makes me so thankful that these women get to work for the US and make it a better place.”
Alejandro Mayorkas is the first ever Latinx and first immigrant to be nominated and approved as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Alejandro Mayorkas was born in Cuba, and came to the US as a political refugee as a kid. It is groundbreaking to have an immigrant become the head of the department which covers immigration. His leadership in this role, while being a political refugee himself, is amazing because these issues must be looked at, and solved, by someone who has experienced them. Northwest student Emma H ‘24 speaks to this, “The diversity in the staff makes me feel very represented and that my issues will be fought for. The diversity of the staff makes the government feel like it looks at problems from different angles, because it has people that have experienced similar things, and not just views from a bunch of white people.”
Karine Jean-Pierre is the first Black, lesbian woman to become the Deputy Press Secretary, which is a huge position of power. She also worked as a communication director for the Biden campaign. Karine Jean-Pierre identifies with 3 very marginalized groups, so it’s amazing that she is in such a high position of power. An anonymous Northwest student says, “I think it’s a step in the right direction. We’re finally giving more and more opportunities to be in places of power.” The rest of the communications team is also all women!
Malachi M ‘23 says “It makes me feel like there’s genuine progress being made in the minds of people in positions of power and I’m very hopeful that people will look at this as a sign that we’re moving closer to change even if it feels like we’re not sometimes.” It is such an accomplishment that the country has come far enough to elect many of these people, as many of these candidates would not have even been considered years ago. However, it must be said that Black women voters are the real reason we are here—they went to the polls, they got out the vote, and they uplifted our country.
“I think it’s a wonderful step in the right direction,” says Daisy D, ‘24. “There is so much repairing that this Administration has to do, and sometimes it makes it hard to move forward without backing up. We need to repair relationships with other countries, groups of people, and so much more. When we are done it should be all of us stepping forward together and make it less of a ‘us and them’ country. WIth these new people in charge, it’s a really great place to start. It’s also a great reflection of what direction our country is heading. Not only that it creates so many role models for young girls, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, it shows that no matter your skin color, gender or sexuality, you can accomplish so much.”
It’s groundbreaking to have people that would confirm these leaders and changemakers. I have hope that future presidents and presidential cabinets will continue to move forward in creating staff that is like our country. We still have such a long way to go to diversify the government, and the pipeline to get to the level to be considered for a position, such as access to schools and jobs at elite companies. Even if we can’t vote, it affects all of us to see ourselves represented in such high positions of power.