LatinaLista — There’s talk that if Obama becomes the new occupant of the Oval Office, he automatically becomes the poster boy for the argument to end affirmative action programs.
In fact, in November, on election day, three states will be considering doing away with race and gender preferences for college admissions and local and state government hiring — Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska.
California, Washington and Michigan have already passed such initiatives.
While it would be easy to assume that because a biracial man was able to win the biggest election in the country, any person of color could follow in his footsteps.
Yet history tells us it’s not that easy or quick to duplicate such a feat.
We don’t have to look far to see that one person of color who was able to break a glass ceiling doesn’t necessarily signify that old habits are shattered.
According to various diversity reports, people of color are still underrepresented:
According to the 2008 American Society of Newspaper Editor’s annual industry census:
Supervisors: Minorities account for 11.4 percent of all supervisors in newsrooms, which brings this
percentage to its level two years ago. Of all minorities, 22 percent are supervisors.
Newspapers with no minorities: 423 of the newspapers responding to the survey had no minorities on
their full-time staff. This number has been growing since 2006. The majority of these newspapers have
circulations of 10,000 or less.
All newspapers with circulations of 50,000 or more that responded to the census had at least one minority staffer.
When it comes to corporate America, insight into the progress of people of color assuming board positions on Fortune 100 companies is telling. According to the Alliance for Board Diversity’s Women and Minorities on Fortune 100 Boards report, the findings are not encouraging.
According to the report, white men still held a disproportionate share of board director seats, although the study revealed small gains in the share of board seats held by minority women. It also noted that white men realized a net gain of 21 seats as compared with a net gain of three for all women and minority men.
The percentage representation of all women and minority men on Fortune 100 corporate boards did not change substantially from September 30, 2004, to April 30, 2006. Men occupied the vast majority—82.94%—of the 1,219 board seats. In contrast, women held 17.06% of all directorships.
All women and minority men held 28.47% of board member seats—just under one-third of the total—essentially flat compared with 2004. In 2006, 41% of the Fortune 100 boards had more than 30% of their seats held by women and minorities, up from 38% in 2004.
When we get to Congress, the picture isn’t any rosier.
In the United States Senate, out of 100 senators, there are 5 of color:
Barack Obama (D-Illinois), 2005-
Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), 1990-
Ken L. Salazar (D-Colorado), 2005-
Melquiades R. Martinez (R-Florida), 2005-
Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), 2006-
Ed Rust, Jr., chairman and CEO of State Farm, said “Diversity cannot be a program. It must be a state of mind …”
Well, regardless of whether or not Obama wins, it’s obvious that as a nation we have a long way to go before we are all of one mind.