Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Black Women In Obama Administration Form Tight Sistahood

A good article from The Washington Post. Not only are Black women filling important positions in the Obama Administration, but these women are also coming together to form close personal and professional relationships. Sistahood on Capitol Hill! Krissah Thompson reports:

Like two old girlfriends catching up, they ignored onlookers, hugged and laughed.

Donna Brazile, the political strategist and Washington veteran, peppered Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson with questions.

"How are the kids?" "Have you contacted the church? I don't go every Sunday but they know me."

Before she left, Jackson had an open invitation to Brazile's place for home-cooked red beans and rice, served up every Monday night.

"The sisterhood in this town, there's deep history here," Jackson said.

The "Obama women" -- as African American women who've taken big jobs in his administration have been nicknamed -- mark another step in the long journey of black women from outsiders to gatekeepers in political Washington. They have quietly entered their jobs with little attention paid to the fact that they are the largest contingent of high-ranking black women to work for a president.

Many are firsts -- as in the first black woman to run the Domestic Policy Council, the first black EPA chief and the first black woman to be deputy chief of staff. Last week, Obama tapped Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg to lead the Food and Drug Administration. If confirmed, Hamburg -- who is biracial (her mother is African American, her father Jewish) -- will also be a first.

Seven of about three dozen senior positions on President Obama's team are filled by African American women. Veterans in town see them as part of the steady evolution of power for black women, not only in the White House but also across the country -- in the business world, in academia, in policy circles.

So this is what a post-Condi era starts to look like. So far, I think I like.


Daigan Vince Gaither said...

I think it's great that more and more black woman and woman in general are moving forward to positions of leadership. I wish, however, that GLBT folks were given the same opportunity. We continue to be the decorator, and personnel managers, and ignored despite qualification for anything with more power or authority.

Change for the Obama folks doesn't include everyone unfortunately.

richard said...

it definitely is great about having more black women and women in general in positions of leadership. And actually Obama did reinstate a woman's position, someone who was fired during the Bush Administration AND blocked from getting a new job because of rumors of her being a lesbian. It was reported on NPR, someone emailed me this earlier this year:

"NPR first broke the story of Leslie Hagen's dismissal last April, and the Justice Department's inspector general later corroborated the report. Now, Hagen has returned to her post at the department's Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys. In 2006, Hagen was the liaison between the main Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys' committee on Native American affairs. The chairman of that committee, Tom Heffelfinger, described Hagen to NPR last year as "the best qualified person in the nation to fill that job." Hagen's performance evaluations had the highest possible ratings — "outstanding" in each of five categories. The job came up for renewal every year. After the first year, Hagen was surprised to hear that she would have to move on.

As NPR reported in April, a top aide to the attorney general had heard a rumor that Hagen was a lesbian. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is against Justice Department rules. But Monica Goodling, senior counsel to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had Hagen removed from her job anyway.

That was more than a year ago. The inspector general eventually confirmed the NPR report and added new details, saying Goodling not only ousted Hagen but also blocked Hagen from getting other Justice Department jobs she was qualified for.

The paperwork makes it official as of Monday, Feb. 2. Hagen now has her old position back, but this time it's a little different. Her contract no longer comes up for renewal every year. Now, the job is permanent".

And remember... Obama has only been president for 2 months. I believe there is more to come.

Thanks for your comment!