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Volume 72, Issue 28, Thursday, September 28, 2006

Opinion

More diversity needed in Congress

Lashic Patterson 
Guest Columist

A Democratic contender for the U.S. House of Representatives may become the first Muslim in Congress. Keith Ellison of Minnesota said he is in the race not just to become the first in his field, but also to execute "excellent constituent services."

Anyone who believes in diversity in politics should be more than happy if Ellison is elected. His presence would break barriers and establish a much-needed steppingstone on the path to mending the relationship between the United States and Muslim countries. 

During a recent series of town hall meetings, Bill Cosby spoke of the high amounts of drug-related activity in a predominately Christian neighborhood, and said it was the Muslims who put an end to it. 

This comment suggests that it is going to take people of diverse backgrounds to step up and make a difference. 

Eighty-five percent of the U.S. Congress is male, despite the fact the U.S. has eight million more women than men of voting age. Around 86 percent of the members in Congress are white, in a country where blacks, Hispanics, Asians, American Indians and other non-white individuals make up 30.6 percent of the population. Most members are Christian when many other religious beliefs exist in America.

One would think Congress would at least reflect the country's population.

The country is moving toward a more race-neutral and colorblind approach, and the gains by racial minorities in politics have become stagnant in the new millennium. Charles A. Gallagher, a writer for the journal Race, Gender and Class, said this approach destroys the idea that racial hierarchies exist, blames racial minority groups for their lack of gains in politics and economics and pushes for assimilation instead of pluralism. 

If this nation were colorblind, racial minority groups would not look to statistical data concerning whites to determine what is acceptable, and whites would not have to look to data of non-whites for what is abnormal. 

A colorblind nation would show people of all races being equally represented in every facet of life in places such as the Congress. 

However, statistics do not show a colorblind country. The paradox is that Congress is a group of people who are male, Christian and white and who represent a country that is highly diverse.

The lack of diversity in Congress means we have a lack of diversity in decision-making. 

Walter L. Mathis, a writer for Take Pride! Community Magazine, said the government needs diversity in order to address the needs of this country and to "set an example for other countries" to follow. If this country had more diversity in Congress and other areas, maybe other countries would not feel so much animosity toward us. 

Patterson, a psychology sophomore, 
can be reached at lashicmondrell@yahoo.com

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