As the inauguration neared for President-elect Joe Biden, discussion heated up on how culturally diverse his cabinet would be. Biden’s voters and progressive activists were putting pressure on the incoming administration to appoint women, minorities, and even people of different sexual identities to lead the nation’s federal departments. Expectations were also high as he picked as his running mate the first woman, Black, and Asian Vice President in the nation’s history and announced in December that, “This cabinet will be more representative of the American people than any other cabinet in history.”
When Biden finally announced his cabinet picks, he did not disappoint as his cabinet is being labeled as the most culturally diverse in the history of the United States. To name just a few, Biden nominated America’s first openly gay cabinet secretary in Pete Buttigieg, first female treasury secretary Janet Yellen, first black Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin, and the first Native American in a president’s Cabinet, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
So now the question should be asked, why does a culturally diverse cabinet matter? For America especially, culturally diverse cabinet matters as race relations have hit rock bottom and a diverse cabinet would be the first step in repairing a broken nation. The rise of white supremacy, police shootings of unarmed blacks, and minority communities being hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic needed to be addressed and Biden’s picks would be the first step in the right direction to better reflect the country’s changing demographics. It is difficult to measure how important symbolism is, but flipping upside down preconceived notions of leadership can have palpable implications as when people see a woman leading the US Treasury for the first time, does that disrupt expectations that men are better at financial matters than women? Yes, it certainly does. Thus, Biden’s cabinet that truly represents the cultural diversity of America should be applauded and respected.