A Little on the Top, or A Lot on the Bottom

We have talked about the pros and cons of Black faces in high places on this site before. This is a concept worth revisiting in light of a survey by the Washington Post that says the G. W. Bush has brought on less females and minorities in his administration than Bill Clinton.

Conservative reaction to this story is not surprising (an example is here), but it does raise an interesting question. To quote conservative columnist Michelle Malkin:

“In other words, Bush is an enemy of progress and civil rights because he has appointed too many minorities and women to top Cabinet positions–and not enough to lower, less important jobs!”

This is a matter of quantity versus quality. I think you can have both here, but maybe you can’t. Which would you rather see: a few Black folks in prominent leadership positions or lots of Black people working in lower positions?

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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

One response to “A Little on the Top, or A Lot on the Bottom”

  1. Brandon Q. says :

    I am more about both/and not either/or but to answer your question, I would prefer a larger quantity of Black folks in lower positions than a few in prominent positions. I say that because when you have a few (like Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice) it becomes too easy for their mistakes to turn into generalizations. Moreover, when you have Black folks in lower positions, (I am including middle management for lower positions) I think it is more likely that your Black colleagues can keep you grounded when you can’t see or understand the whole picture.

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