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Episode 106 — Racist Against White People

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Can you be racist against white people? Andrew Ti & this week’s guest Jane Marie are on the same page on this one. Listen to find out their answer and leave us a message at (323) 389-RACE.

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With her answer, this guest is head and shoulders above many of the guests you've had on so far. The only other one that was as good was the dude that wrote "Stuff White People Like."

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The answer is either "obviously yes" or "obviously no" depending on how you define racism*. But the basic idea behind what she was saying--that being called a honkey that one time, or being told that white guys can't dance, is profoundly different from living under a system of wide-spread, institutionalized bigotry--is worth remembering.

 

* Trying to decide on the "correct" definition of racism seems misguided to me. Words have more than one meaning because they're used in more than one way; that's how language works.

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American history starts with the genocide of indigenous people and the most shameful system of slavery ever conceived, and progress has been slow but not steady. If and when white people in the U.S. today face prejudice for being white, it's usually interpersonal, not systemic, and it's usually unfair instead of unjust.

 

It's also true that white people have privileges for being white, but privilege is not the same as being in charge. The idea that white people, in general, are in charge is wrong, for one thing, and, worse, the kind of thinking that perpetuates racism. It's a sleight of hand trick that the rich and powerful learned when unity between black slaves and white indentured servants was posing a potential threat to their wealth and power.

 

We are all well aware of the perverse wealth inequality in the U.S. Most white people--even if they face no discrimination based on gender or orientation, even if they've benefitted from white privilege--have very little real power in their own lives, let alone the lives of others. Very many live paycheck-to-paycheck. Very few have the power to affect change on a large scale. The suggestion that these same people are "in charge" is ludicrous.

 

Poor and lower-middle-class whites lack economic and social stability, which creates anxiety. That anxiety, the fear they have something to lose, is very real, and very profoundly felt. If it is accepted that "white people are in charge," that distorts the perception of what they have to lose and who poses a threat. So, there is no focus on the people who are in charge, the "white-collar" crimes they commit, or the system that serves the consolidation of wealth and political power for only a very few. Instead, they focus their resentment on their nonwhite socioeconomic peers, with whom they compete for underpaid jobs that offer little security.

 

I agree that the racial prejudice that white people experience in the U.S. is fundamentally different in kind from the racism nonwhite people experience. I agree that white people receive privileges that nonwhite people don't. And I think it is appropriate and necessary to emphasize the asymmetrical nature of racism in America. But, I suspect that the statement that "white people are in charge," aside from being wrong and unnecessarily sensationalist, ultimately serves the system of inequality that perpetuates racism.

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American history starts with the genocide of indigenous people and the most shameful system of slavery ever conceived, and progress has been slow but not steady. If and when white people in the U.S. today face prejudice for being white, it's usually interpersonal, not systemic, and it's usually unfair instead of unjust.

 

It's also true that white people have privileges for being white, but privilege is not the same as being in charge. The idea that white people, in general, are in charge is wrong, for one thing, and, worse, the kind of thinking that perpetuates racism. It's a sleight of hand trick that the rich and powerful learned when unity between black slaves and white indentured servants was posing a potential threat to their wealth and power.

 

We are all well aware of the perverse wealth inequality in the U.S. Most white people--even if they face no discrimination based on gender or orientation, even if they've benefitted from white privilege--have very little real power in their own lives, let alone the lives of others. Very many live paycheck-to-paycheck. Very few have the power to affect change on a large scale. The suggestion that these same people are "in charge" is ludicrous.

 

Poor and lower-middle-class whites lack economic and social stability, which creates anxiety. That anxiety, the fear they have something to lose, is very real, and very profoundly felt. If it is accepted that "white people are in charge," that distorts the perception of what they have to lose and who poses a threat. So, there is no focus on the people who are in charge, the "white-collar" crimes they commit, or the system that serves the consolidation of wealth and political power for only a very few. Instead, they focus their resentment on their nonwhite socioeconomic peers, with whom they compete for underpaid jobs that offer little security.

 

I agree that the racial prejudice that white people experience in the U.S. is fundamentally different in kind from the racism nonwhite people experience. I agree that white people receive privileges that nonwhite people don't. And I think it is appropriate and necessary to emphasize the asymmetrical nature of racism in America. But, I suspect that the statement that "white people are in charge," aside from being wrong and unnecessarily sensationalist, ultimately serves the system of inequality that perpetuates racism.

 

But white people are in charge. The judges, the police force, business leaders, politicians are overwhelmingly white and have been for 98% of this country's history. I don't its wrong to gloss over that and not take that into consideration when talking about the power structure in the country. Pointing that out does not perpetuate racism. What keeps racism going is the myth of white superiority that is told to other white people in this country, subtly and overtly, through various mediums/mechanisms/systems.

 

The reason poor whites don't band together with poor blacks is because those poor white have the ability to access the wider mainstream and be successful in it. That is something that even rich black people lack. Chris Rock said it best in his joke, "There is no white person in this audience who would trade places with me....and I'm rich!" There are many spaces in society where black people will never belong, no matter how much money they make (for example, the Henry Louis Gates incident). That access is powerful and will help a poor white person get to a middle class white person. The other power players in society -- other white men, but it is increasingly adding white women -- will look upon that white person as a peer. They will see themselves in that other white person and relate to them better than an Asian woman or a black lesbian.

 

Even in their status as poor whites, they still have the a major political party and political movement telling them that they are the salt of the earth and the true backbone of the nation. For every type of white person in this nation there is a story, a narrative, to make them feel good. For every type of black person in this nation, there is a story to tell you how much you are not worth anything. If you're poor, then you're "ghetto". if you are rich, then you're "uppity'.

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Um, yes you can absolutely be racist against white people.

 

Antisemitism is a good example of racism against white people. Louis Farrakhan constantly goes on antisemitic rants that sound exactly like something you would hear at a KKK rally.

 

This podcast almost exclusively has as guests white bread, silver spoon NPR types. There has been exactly one black guest who completely dismantled Andrew's theory on racism and exposed him for the racist that he is. Thank you MC Nocando.

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Um, yes you can absolutely be racist against white people.

 

Antisemitism is a good example of racism against white people. Louis Farrakhan constantly goes on antisemitic rants that sound exactly like something you would hear at a KKK rally.

 

This podcast almost exclusively has as guests white bread, silver spoon NPR types. There has been exactly one black guest who completely dismantled Andrew's theory on racism and exposed him for the racist that he is. Thank you MC Nocando.

 

 

But I'm a black person and I agree with Andrew. Does that mean that Nocando's opinions are invalidated or will you go back to what you would usually do and ignore the voices of PoC?

 

And what Louis Farrahkan is engaging in is prejudiced thinking. He is very prejudiced against Jewish people. But the Nation of Islam does not own a major television station where they can pump out this message of anti-semitism on a daily basis. They don't even own a majority of local newstations where they can focus exclusively on Jewish activity. They do not make up 99 of the senators in the United States Congress and their members do not have a majority control of the House of Representatives. They literally have no power in this country to act at all. But prejudiced white people do have the power in the country. That's the definition of racism.

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They do not make up 99 of the senators in the United States Congress

Is Daniel Inouye or Daniel Akaka white for the purposes of this argument?

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But I'm a black person and I agree with Andrew. Does that mean that Nocando's opinions are invalidated or will you go back to what you would usually do and ignore the voices of PoC?

 

And what Louis Farrahkan is engaging in is prejudiced thinking. He is very prejudiced against Jewish people. But the Nation of Islam does not own a major television station where they can pump out this message of anti-semitism on a daily basis. They don't even own a majority of local newstations where they can focus exclusively on Jewish activity. They do not make up 99 of the senators in the United States Congress and their members do not have a majority control of the House of Representatives. They literally have no power in this country to act at all. But prejudiced white people do have the power in the country. That's the definition of racism.

First of all how dare you claim that I ignore the voices of anyone. You don't know me. You are entitled to your opinion as am I. Adolf Hitler incited the holocaust by claiming that Jews had "too much power." Who we perceive to be in power does not factor into the definition of racism. Racism is toxic and dangerous from any direction.

 

Even though I dont always agree with Andrew's views I appreciate the podcast because it promotes critical thinking. However it would be more substantial if not (nearly) every guest was selected because they agree with his position.

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Racism is also an ideology where certain races are said to be genetically inferior or superior. If someone (of any race) or some group believes that people of another race are dumb or evil because of their genes, then that is racist thinking, regardless of their ability to pass laws or publicize their views. This isn't the only definition of racism, but it's a historically important one.

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Inouye's dead and Akaka's retired.

Ahh, good catch. I guess this is our new white senator from Hawaii:

Sg6YzRD.jpg

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This whole show is racist towards white people. Discriminating against anyone for skin color is racism, and Andrew here loves to blame white people for everything. I'll never forget the time I was in middle school and some kid got called a cracker by a black girl, he responded by calling her a nigger. Guess who got suspended and who got no punishment?

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But white people are in charge. The judges, the police force, business leaders, politicians are overwhelmingly white and have been for 98% of this country's history.

 

Let’s not confuse the babysitters for the parents.

 

 

I don't its wrong to gloss over that and not take that into consideration when talking about the power structure in the country. Pointing that out does not perpetuate racism. What keeps racism going is the myth of white superiority that is told to other white people in this country, subtly and overtly, through various mediums/mechanisms/systems.

 

Exactly. Part of that mythology is to say that America and its values belong to white people. Or, put another way, "white people are in charge." A disapproving tone doesn't change the overall effect. And it's not accurate, anyway, if you really mean "in charge," and not just "privileged with a little power."

 

 

The reason poor whites don't band together with poor blacks is because those poor white have the ability to access the wider mainstream and be successful in it.

 

You're severely overestimating the upward mobility of white people in poverty. And, anyway, poor white people are more likely afraid that poor people of color are going to "steal" the work that's currently available to them than they are to fancy themselves moving into a different tax bracket.

 

Even so, the opportunity to succeed isn't even privilege, let alone power, is it? That's not something that white people shouldn't have, it's something everyone should have. But, as long as we choose to see things as us-vs-them, we can forget about that happening.

 

 

That is something that even rich black people lack. Chris Rock said it best in his joke, "There is no white person in this audience who would trade places with me....and I'm rich!"

 

I don't want to take a comedy routine too literally, no matter how sociologically poignant, but I do think it's safe to say that he has "accessed the mainstream and been successful in it."

 

By the way, for perspective, at $70M net worth, that puts him only $1.03B short of cracking the Forbes 400. Even supposing he had that, wealthy individuals don't hold the same power as wealthy families with powerful corporate and political connections (e.g., the Kochs, the Waltons, et al.), so not even being "rich" means being "in charge."

 

 

There are many spaces in society where black people will never belong, no matter how much money they make (for example, the Henry Louis Gates incident).

 

Dr. Gates has taught at some of the most prominent universities in the country for decades, and at Harvard for over 20 years. He's received dozens of accolades and honors, published quite a few books, and reached a level of fame higher than most academics even think about. He is extremely successful, and seems to have been accepted, embraced, and even celebrated by his academic peers. He sat down to a beer with the officer who harassed him (oh, and the President and VP of the US), and seemed to leave it on friendly terms.

 

 

That access is powerful and will help a poor white person get to a middle class white person. The other power players in society -- other white men, but it is increasingly adding white women -- will look upon that white person as a peer. They will see themselves in that other white person and relate to them better than an Asian woman or a black lesbian.

 

You're either underestimating socioeconomic division, or overestimating the notion of white solidarity, but people don't reach across class lines that readily, and the wealthy don't tend to see the poor as "peers."

 

 

Even in their status as poor whites, they still have the a major political party and political movement telling them that they are the salt of the earth and the true backbone of the nation. For every type of white person in this nation there is a story, a narrative, to make them feel good. For every type of black person in this nation, there is a story to tell you how much you are not worth anything. If you're poor, then you're "ghetto". if you are rich, then you're "uppity'.

 

Political pandering and feel-good narratives do not constitute being in charge, though!

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I'm not Andrew's biggest fan, but I really don't think he's racist. I suspect he probably just thinks about race/racism way too much for the good of his mental and emotional health, and it comes across that he's exasperated and burned out. Then, sometimes he'll groan and say, "Fuckin' white people, they're the worst." It's not helpful, to say the least, but, given the time the man spends thinking about racism in America, it's a pretty mild reaction.

 

But, he seems to treat all his guests with respect and kindness, and, at his very best, he's thoughtful, measured, funny, and offers really good insight.

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This whole show is racist towards white people. Discriminating against anyone for skin color is racism, and Andrew here loves to blame white people for everything.

 

How can a show that has 85% white guests be racist against white people?

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Ahh, good catch. I guess this is our new white senator from Hawaii:

Sg6YzRD.jpg

 

 

You still trying Joshie, but she's the 1 non-white person in the Senate. Burris was the other but he has seen been replaced by Mark Kirk.

 

This topic is obviously out of your depth. Isn't there something else you should be doing?

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I'm not Andrew's biggest fan, but I really don't think he's racist. I suspect he probably just thinks about race/racism way too much for the good of his mental and emotional health, and it comes across that he's exasperated and burned out. Then, sometimes he'll groan and say, "Fuckin' white people, they're the worst." It's not helpful, to say the least, but, given the time the man spends thinking about racism in America, it's a pretty mild reaction.

 

But, he seems to treat all his guests with respect and kindness, and, at his very best, he's thoughtful, measured, funny, and offers really good insight.

 

 

Andrew is not racist, and I like how he is critical of everyone when it comes to race, even himself and his family. He does this because he know that we are living a racist society and every day you are getting messages, subtle and overt, that let you know where you are on the hierarchy. He is much better than people who say they aren't racist, then go and say racist shit. You know those types of people. The type that will trot out that they have non-white "friends" so how could anything they do be racist? Or the worst kind, the kind that say racist shit and then say, "can't take a joke? jeez, calm down." Those people can go fuck themselves.

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Let’s not confuse the babysitters for the parents.

 

Who are the parents in this situation and does it really matter when the practical outcome is that they both get to benefit from the same well of power? Not really.

 

Exactly. Part of that mythology is to say that America and its values belong to white people. Or, put another way, "white people are in charge." A disapproving tone doesn't change the overall effect. And it's not accurate, anyway, if you really mean "in charge," and not just "privileged with a little power."

 

Even so, the opportunity to succeed isn't even privilege, let alone power, is it? That's not something that white people shouldn't have, it's something everyone should have. But, as long as we choose to see things as us-vs-them, we can forget about that happening.

 

Once again, it does not matter, if the practical outcome is that you still, as a poor white person, do not have to put with constant policing because it is understood that you are the "backbone of the nation" and this other non-white poor person is the reason why the country is "falling apart." I'm a man, but I didn't invent the particarchy, but nevertheless I still benefit from it because my of genitals. It does not matter if I am poor or rich. I will still have the same set of genitals. Likewise, it does not matter if you are poor or rich. You will still have the same skin tone. You will still benefit from the racist system. The point of privilege is that you don't have to deal with certain shit that other groups do. That shit has real world consequences for where you will be able to live, what type of occupation you will have, even who you will marry or if you are even allowed to get married. And yes, it is a zero-sum game, that is how those privileges exist in the first place, because you are stepping on someone other group.

 

And yes, everyone should be treated fairly, but the first step toward that is calling out the instances where you are not being treated the same. To call out the instances where there is an assumption put on you based on arbitrary physical appearances like genital type and color.

 

But we won't get there if people like you keep on denying the reality about what is happening.

 

You're severely overestimating the upward mobility of white people in poverty. And, anyway, poor white people are more likely afraid that poor people of color are going to "steal" the work that's currently available to them than they are to fancy themselves moving into a different tax bracket.

 

You're severely underestimating their dreams of upward mobility.

 

 

 

 

I don't want to take a comedy routine too literally, no matter how sociologically poignant, but I do think it's safe to say that he has "accessed the mainstream and been successful in it."

 

By the way, for perspective, at $70M net worth, that puts him only $1.03B short of cracking the Forbes 400. Even supposing he had that, wealthy individuals don't hold the same power as wealthy families with powerful corporate and political connections (e.g., the Kochs, the Waltons, et al.), so not even being "rich" means being "in charge."

 

Dr. Gates has taught at some of the most prominent universities in the country for decades, and at Harvard for over 20 years. He's received dozens of accolades and honors, published quite a few books, and reached a level of fame higher than most academics even think about. He is extremely successful, and seems to have been accepted, embraced, and even celebrated by his academic peers. He sat down to a beer with the officer who harassed him (oh, and the President and VP of the US), and seemed to leave it on friendly terms.

 

 

Once again, you seem to think that this white privilege is something that money can buy. Does that 70M net worth change Chris Rock's skin from black to white? That's like saying to a woman, there is no more sexism once you make a certain amount of money. Her breasts and vagina don't disappear once you get into a certain tax bracket. Privilege is racial. It is gender bound. It is sexual orientation dependent. Basically it is wrapped up in these things that NO ONE CAN CHANGE.

 

And about Gates' situation: you never questioned the fact about why this man would even be arrested at all? Didn't the officer see Dr. Gates' awards and achievements? Didn't the officer see Dr. Gates' net worth? No, what he was a black man. A black man in an area that has been historically closed off from black people and figured this black man was making trouble. So, you see how your arguments about Gates' achievements or Rock's net worth giving them power fall to pieces. These are black men, and no matter their money or fame in academia, they will continue to be treated like black men, which is less than.

 

You're either underestimating socioeconomic division, or overestimating the notion of white solidarity, but people don't reach across class lines that readily, and the wealthy don't tend to see the poor as "peers."

 

There is a great short story by James Baldwin where the main character is a black man who left the States to go to Europe to be an actor. In the story he's coming back to the States for his father's funeral and for the first time notices how mean white people are to each other. He had been so fixed on how they have been treating him that he just never had time to notice.

 

So once he reaches the States though, he notices a change where there is a solidarity to keep him, a black man, in "check." Even the white bellhops, the lowest of the low economically, will not take his bags.

 

There is economic division within the white community. But the thing that ALL white people can agree on. The idea that has OVERWHELMING support from the white community is the myth that they are superior to all other non-white people on the planet and that it is there birthright to rule over them. There is massive solidarity in that idea. Just look at the history of our country -- every white person from Nelson Rockefeller to the toothless, Appalachian hillbilly -- brought fully into this myth and their actions show it.

 

Political pandering and feel-good narratives do not constitute being in charge, though!

 

You're just being disingenuous here. The "working class hero" is a white dude in a hard hat. Has been that way in this country since the Industrial Revolution.

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First of all how dare you claim that I ignore the voices of anyone.

 

But you do ignore the voices of people. You came in here real hot and said Andrew was a racist and that the white guests who agreed with him were liberal idiots who didn't know what they were talking about. And then, lept on a black person's opinion that you agreed with as some kind of "weight" or "proof of evidence."

 

 

Adolf Hitler incited the holocaust by claiming that Jews had "too much power." Who we perceive to be in power does not factor into the definition of racism.

 

No, Hitler blamed the Jews from the loss in World War I and the economic hardship the country was facing in the 20s and 30s. And since there was already a long history of racism against Jews. And because they had no real representation in the Weimar Republic (because of that long history of racism), Hitler came to power. The reason the Holocaust happened was because the Jews had no power in Germany or in any other European country.

 

Racism is toxic and dangerous from any direction.

 

This directly contradicts your first post. You don't believe racism comes is dangerous in any direction because you said Andrew was a racist. Is he really racist because he doesn't want white kids to use the n-word? THAT particular direction is one you seemed to have missed. Asking you to judge what is racist or not is like (continuing the Nazi analogy you brought up) having a Nazi judge what is anti-semitic.

 

Even though I dont always agree with Andrew's views I appreciate the podcast because it promotes critical thinking. However it would be more substantial if not (nearly) every guest was selected because they agree with his position.

 

This directly contradicts your first post as well. You just said that Andrew was racist against white people. How? Well, you never used your "critical thinking" skills to show that. But one of Andrews opinions is that white people shouldn't use the n-word. I assume you believe that this is somehow oppressing white people.

 

Then you go on to say that you "dont always agree with Andrew's views". You don't always agree, but sometimes you agree? Why would you sometimes agree with a person you just called racist? Or where you full of shit when you said racism is toxic and dangerous? If you really believed Andrew was a racist, you should written that sentence like, "I never agree with Andrew's stupid opinions because he's a racist asshole."

 

I'm just gonna call you troll that came from the website to stir shit up.

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You still trying Joshie, but she's the 1 non-white person in the Senate. Burris was the other but he has seen been replaced by Mark Kirk.

 

This topic is obviously out of your depth. Isn't there something else you should be doing?

LOL I knew about Burris I thought you were talking about Tim Scott from SC, but since you aren't, here is apparently the white junior senator from South Carolina (according to your logic):

B2Ayhk4.jpg

 

Also, since Kerry's seat was vacated given his recent appointment, I decided to look up Massachusetts on a whim, and here is their new white senator (according to you) Mo Cowan:

SWlhusU.jpg

 

In other words, damn, it hurts having to pwn you so hard, feel free to be quiet and disappear at any time, before you embarrass yourself again.

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But we won't get there if people like you keep on denying the reality about what is happening.

 

I'm not denying anything. I'm trying to emphasize the nuances and the subtleties of the American political-economic system. I would like to understand how racism starts, what purpose it serves, and how it keeps going.

 

Privilege isn't as simple as the way you put it. Discrimination and privilege are not mutually exclusive! A person can face racism regularly and still have privilege. Dr. Gates and Chris Rock both demonstrate that. Yes, Dr. Gates was wrongfully arrested, and that's horrible. But, how many homeless, poor, and middle class black men are harassed, wrongfully arrested, or brutalized by racist cops every day? Their stories won't make the news, and the charges against them won't be dropped. They won't be invited for a beer at the White House, and they won't get to tell their stories on Oprah. His privilege (afforded by prestige, prominence, connections, fame, and wealth) allowed Dr. Gates those opportunities. Chris Rock can't buy racism or sexism away, but he can put his daughters through the finest schools and still set them up with nice trust funds, and that is privilege.

 

I'm not denying that the Rockefellers and Appalachian "hillbillies" aren't both racist! I'm denying, absolutely, that they would see each other as peers! They don't respect each other for being white, they have contempt for the other!

 

And, back to my original point: the Rockefellers (along with the Morgans) were actually "in charge" for a large part of the 19th and 20th centuries. Poor whites in Appalachia were not. What's objectionable to you about that distinction?

 

The "working class hero" is propaganda that seeks to convince white working class men to accept their lot in life nobly, giving them the idea that they've got something to protect. It's the same exact message as what Jane Marie asserted on this episode: white people in charge. It's wrong.

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In other words, damn, it hurts having to pwn you so hard, feel free to be quiet and disappear at any time, before you embarrass yourself again.

 

I don't appreciate the way Shariq Torres made his argument, but I hope we can all agree that both Houses of Congress are woefully lacking in diversity. In the Senate, you've pointed out Cowan, Scott, and Hirono, and there's also Cruz and Rubio. That's only 5 people of color, and I believe there are only 21 women.

 

The House of Representatives is a little bit better, but not by much! Take a look at this infographic on the Huffington Post, if you're interested.

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