Throughout our nation’s history, women of color have consistently been shut out of the halls of power, with few exceptions. This lack of visibility has helped perpetuate stereotypes that political service is not a viable career path for most women. Yet, members of the ReflectUS Coalition are fighting against these very notions. In particular, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) and LatinasRepresent are empowering Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and Latina women, respectively, to ensure that more women from diverse backgrounds are reflected in political leadership.
When our daughters see themselves as judges, chiefs of staff, and cabinet members, a world of new possibilities opens up for them. That’s why APAICS and LatinasRepresent are teaming up on December 8, 2020 to present, “The Appointee Process: Perspectives from Latina & AAPI Women”. The event will prepare Latina and AAPI women to engage in the presidential appointments process.
President-elect Joe Biden announced that he wants his administration to be the most diverse in the history of the United States. He demonstrated that commitment early by choosing Kamala Harris, the first Black and South Asian woman to serve as his Vice President. Most recently, the President-elect announced an all-female senior White House communications team, with several of the most senior staff being women of color. Yet, there is still more work to do.
Latinx people are the second largest racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Although Latinx people are more than 18 percent of the U.S. population, they only make up about 1 percent of elected officials at all levels and about 8 percent of people in the federal workforce. In addition, Latinx people only account for a fraction of state and presidential political appointments, which is why the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) has urged the President-elect to appoint at least five qualified Latinx individuals to Cabinet-level positions and to ensure that Latinx people make up at least 20 percent of the thousands of available positions within the federal government, including advisory boards, commissions and other bodies.
This year, Asian American voting increased by 300 percent, more than any other voting block and AAPI women will make up over 50 percent of the AAPI Members of Congress starting in the 117th Congress. Recently, APAICS joined with AAPI Members of Congress to urge the President-elect to choose AAPIs for at least seven percent of his cabinet level picks to truly reflect the diversity of America. Asian Americans are about 6 percent of the population (and growing) yet represent a fraction of elected and appointed positions in government.
As important as it is to highlight Latina and AAPI voices for the purpose of representation and visibility, it is equally important that we honor and acknowledge the need for greater diversity of our communities in presidential appointments. APAICS and LatinasRepresent are urging the Biden-Harris administration to make appointments that truly reflect the uniqueness of our cultures. For instance, we want to see Afro-Latina, Indigenous-Latina and LGBTQ+ Latinas represented. We also want to see parts of the AAPI community represented who are historically underrepresented, including Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and Southeast Asians. We are thrilled that a South Asian American will be in the White House and know it is just as important that Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are represented through the appointments process. No culture is a monolith and we look forward to a variety of our cultural expressions being represented in the Biden-Harris administration through appointments. This form of visibility normalizes our leadership in our communities and in the communities of those around us. It also normalizes leadership of Latina and AAPI women in political spaces during a critical time in our nation’s history.
In addition to hosting a webinar demystifying the appointments process on December 8, 2020, APAICS has also created a resume bank for those interested in pursuing an appointment with the Biden-Harris administration and LatinasRepresent is working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) to encourage and support Latinas to pursue presidential appointments within the administration. To learn more about how to apply for positions, visit the Biden-Harris transition website, or submit your resume to the CHC Resume Bank for Political Appointments or the APAICS Resume Bank for Political Appointments.
APAICS and LatinasRepresent will continue to call on the Biden-Harris administration and all future administrations to increase the number of women in appointed positions. We will especially call for greater representation of Latina and Asian American women to reflect the true diversity of our country.
Madalene Mielke, is the President and CEO of Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies and Chairperson of the Board of Directors for ReflectUS.
ReflectUS is a national, nonpartisan coalition working to increase the number of women in office and achieve equal representation across the racial, ideological, ethnic, and geographic spectrum.