Much of the initial strife in Ferguson, Missouri, last year stemmed from the fact that the city’s police force did not accurately reflect its population. The same could be said about the U.S. government. The 114th Congress is technically the most diverse in history, but it’s still overwhelmingly dominated by white men. Non-whites make up just 17 percent of Congress, despite comprising 38 percent of the total U.S. population. Both the nation and government have been moving towards more racial diversity, but it’s a slow process. As of now, the country’s highest authority belongs mostly to the majority.
Caucasians comprise 77.7 percent of the overall U.S. population. In Congress, 79.8 percent of the House of Representatives is white, along with 94 percent of the Senate. That means that during any given debate on legislation, four out of five of the votes will be cast by a white person. White people may be the majority in the U.S., but the problem stems from the fact that a small handful of representatives from that majority is making the decisions for a larger, more diverse population around the country.
The largest racial minority in the U.S. is the Hispanic/Latino population, but in Congress the largest minority is the African-American population. African-Americans make up 13.2 percent of the overall U.S. population, compared to 10.1 percent of the House and 2 percent of the Senate. Hispanics/Latinos comprise 17.1 percent of the overall U.S. population, but just 7.8 percent of the House and 3 percent of the Senate. There are just 32 Hispanic or Latino members of Congress. Asians comprise 5.3 percent of the U.S. population, 2.3 percent of the House, and 1 percent of the Senate. Women, a segment of the population which shouldn’t even be part of the conversation when it comes to minorities (considering they make up 50.8 percent of the overall U.S. population), make up just 20 percent of Congress.
Unlike the police force, racial representation in Congress can be changed through the democratic process. Unfortunately, that’s a much more difficult and unlikely task than it should be. The trend has been slowly moving towards diversity, but it’s still painfully obvious that the country is being run by white men and has been for centuries.
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