State Department: Allegations of racism ‘disgusting and false’
The State Department is hitting back against allegations that its staff lacks diversity, saying it the claims are “disgusting and false.”
“The assertion that [the State Department] is ‘racist’ is disgusting and false—a brazen attempt to create division for domestic political gain,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a tweet on Monday.
Nauert said the State Department is “among the most diverse of government agencies” and “empowers” those from diverse backgrounds.
“[The State Department] is dedicated to promoting human rights & dignity through our actions, policies & annual reports, including reports on Human Rights, Trafficking in Persons & Religious Freedom,” she added. She posted a link to the department’s 2017 report on global human rights.
Politico Magazine on Monday published an article by Uzra Zeya, a former State Department official, under the title “Trump Is Making American Diplomacy White Again.”
Zeya, who formerly served in multiple top positions at the State Department, denounced the department’s lack of diversity at the senior levels under Trump.
Three of the department’s most senior African-American career officials and the top-ranking Latino career officer were removed or resigned rom their positions after Trump came into office in 2017, Zeya wrote. They were replaced with white successors.
“In the months that followed, I observed top-performing minority diplomats be disinvited from the secretary’s senior staff meeting, relegated to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] duty (well below their abilities), and passed over for bureau leadership roles and key ambassadorships,” she wrote.
A State Department spokesperson in a statement to The Hill said the report is “false” but did not dispute the numbers listed by Zeya.
“Our talented workforce is diverse and reflects our strength as a diplomatic corps,” the spokesperson said. “We are better equipped to tackle tough foreign policy challenges and advance American interests around the world with a diverse cadre of diplomats from all backgrounds.”
The State Department said in a statement to Politico that the percentage of African Americans, Hispanics and women hired as Foreign Service officers increased from 2016 to 2017.
“That’s an encouraging sign at the entry level, but it does not address reduced minority representation at the senior level,” Zeya wrote in the article.
Sixty-four percent of Trump’s ambassadorial nominees so far are white males, 7 percent more than the ambassadors appointed during the Obama administration, according to the American Foreign Service Association.
Trump has not yet named any African-American female ambassador.
The Senior Foreign Service is 88.8 percent white and more than two-thirds male, according to State Department data.
This story was updated at 12:59 p.m. to reflect the State Department was responding to reports regarding staff diversity.