Support minority candidates for Congressional internships.
Do you remember this infamous #SpeakerSelfie photo taken by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, of him and his Capitol Hill interns?
If not, click through to this Time magazine piece to see it (you’ll have to scroll down a little):
Thousands of people instantly spotted what was wrong with this picture. Virtually everyone in it is white.
At least a few Democrats have managed to pick a more diverse group of Congressional interns, as shown in rebuttal photos by House Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas, and House Rep Xavier Becerra, Democrat of California.
Click this CNN link and scroll down to see the rebuttal photos:
…but the #SpeakerSelfie controversy sheds light on a bigger, thornier problem.
If you want a career in politics, you need a Congressional internship. But these internships, by their nature, tend to shut out anyone who’s working class or poor.
The positions are paid in academic credit–not dollars. Interns are responsible for wrangling their own lodgings, business attire, transportation, and food.
Together, these costs, which can easily run into the four-figure or even the low five-figure range, pose a formidable barrier to entry to candidates from low-income families. And as you well know, many low-income families happen to be non-white as well.
A lack of money closes the avenues to the halls of power, which in turn stops talented working-class and poor people from rising through the political ranks.
You can do something about that.
First, check the web sites of your MoCs. Do their sites say anything about how they choose their interns? If so, do the pages on interns include an explicit statement that commits the MoCs to selecting a diverse group of candidates?
If your MoCs’ websites say nothing about diversity among their interns, or say nothing about interns at all, call their offices and ask how they handle this issue. If they don’t give you a satisfactory answer, call and write periodically until they finally do.
Another option is to donate to Congressional intern scholarship programs.
Congressional Interns chosen by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CFBC) receive a stipend worth $3,000 as well as local dorm housing. Read more about the program at the link below:
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute gives its Congressional interns a stipend ($3,750 for spring and fall, and $2,500 for summer), all-expenses-paid housing, domestic round-trip transportation to Washington, D.C., and other benefits. Read more about the program at the link below:
Donate to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and specify that the funds are for its Congressional internship program:
Donate to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, and specify that the funds are for its Congressional internship program:
Read more about what Congressional interns face:
Read about the #SpeakerSelfie controversy and responses to it:
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