The task seems simple. Find three examples from your lived experience and discuss each in relationship to one of the key concepts or terms identified in the syllabus. Like many other people I know, I have been consumed by the presidential campaign, the results of the election, and the subsequent media coverage, questions, criticism, and concern for the future of the federal government and the country. As reflected in a question posed in class today about an upcoming assignment on social media, I found a social media post I could not pass up.
The image below is a double screen capture from a news story about the ongoing construction and composition of the presidential cabinet nominees. I can remember looking forward to this process ever since the election of Jimmy Carter. For me, this lived experience symbolizes peaceful transfer of power as well as the possibility to establish a new lease on protecting and serving the citizens of the United States.
The top image speaks to gender. The bottom image speaks to race and ethnicity. The hashtags speak to diversity, racism, and sexism. The top image makes visible the imbalance of cabinet nominees in favor of men. The assumption here, I think, is at once an attempt to simply present the quantitative tally based on these two identity categories. The implicit meaning is the incoming president favors men over women for leadership positions. In the bottom image a similar assumption might hold with respect to the president-elect’s views of leadership and qualifications based on race or ethnicity, with the vast majority of his selections as White. The implicit reading is the selections of the president-elect reflect a lack of interest and action to construct a diverse cabinet using gender, race, and ethnicity as metrics. It is not surprising the new media employ these metrics of gender, race, and ethnicity–conflating race and ethnicity by the way–in this example given their pervasive use for employment, student enrollment, and census data collection.
One might read these numbers and categories in conversation with the campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.” If this slogan is a reflection of the actual intentions and visions of the 45th President of the United States, it would appear the first step toward making the country great (again) is to appoint a majority of White men lead the way.