Donald Trump’s incoming press secretary Sean Spicer fielded questions from reporters at the last press briefing before the inauguration. One such question had to do with the race and gender of most of Trump’s cabinet picks so far.
Eighteen of the 23 nominees are white males. A reporter wanted to know why there weren’t more minorities represented, and particularly Latinos, of which there were none selected as of yet. Latinos have been part of presidential cabinets since 1988, and this would be first time since then that no Latinos are represented.
“We’re putting together an amazingly diverse cabinet,” Spicer responded. “He’s focused on hiring best and brightest. We’re going to have 5,000 positions to fill.”
“The president elect wanted to make sure his entire cabinet was locked and loaded — which was complete Thursday morning with the nomination of Sonny Perdue — before he picked deputy secretaries,” he added.
“It is a priority but I think it is a very narrow way to look at it to say: ‘If you don’t appoint people to this particular position that’s a problem,'” Spicer said Thursday at the news conference, according to CNN. “The No. 1 thing that I think Americans should focus on is, ‘Is he hiring the best and the brightest? Is he hiring people that are committed to enacting real change?'”
“I guarantee you that as we continue to announce this, that problem will be something people look at and respect the level of diversity throughout his entire administration,” he said. He continued:
“What you’re seeing and you’re going to continue to see not just through the Cabinet but through the entire thing is a diversity in gender, diversity in thinking, diversity of ideology. It’s not just about skin color or ethnic heritage, but you look at the totality of this Cabinet — an Indian-American, an African-American, an Asian-American, it’s about a lot of things.”
But some critics aren’t convinced and believe this to be evidence of deep-seated racism. Arturo Vargas is the executive director of the non-profit group the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He said in a statement:
“The exclusion of a Latino voice in President-elect Trump’s cabinet has set back our nation. Latinos are the nation’s second largest population group, one of every four of America’s children, and the highest policy body of the country is void of its perspective. The onus now is on the President to bring in the voice and perspectives of Latinos into his decision making.”
Also, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) weighed in:
“It’s clear Donald Trump does not surround himself with people who do not look like or think like him. It’s also clear he doesn’t care to surround himself with Latinos or other diverse voices. As President, he has an obligation to represent all Americans, so it’s very concerning to me that Latinos are not at the table.”
But Trump surrogate and NFL legend Jim Brown disagreed. “It’s not just about skin color or ethnic heritage,” he said. Take a look:
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