Diversity is an essential component of developed and inclusive societies. The United States has assumed the position of one of the major proponents of the rights of minorities in the world. It should come as no surprise that much attention is centered on the way power is distributed between ethnic and social groups in America. Congress is the body directly responsible for formulating future laws. Therefore, the number of people, who represent minorities in Congress, is most indicative of the actual distribution of power between the groups. Ascertaining the exact number of minorities in the 117th Congress is essential in understanding the current tendencies of equal representation of different people in America.
The current Congress meeting is noteworthy for its difference from the previous iterations. Pew Research Center reports that it is “the most racially and ethnically diverse in history” (Schaeffer, 2021, para. 2). Specifically, out of 539 lawmakers currently, 6 (1%) are Native American, 17 (3%) Asian American, 46 (8%) are Hispanic, and 59 (11%) are African American. The same can be observed in the field of gender and sexual distribution. There are 144 (27%) women, 56 (10%) lesbian, and 64 (12%) gay members of Congress (Flores et al., 2020). In both cases, the current composition is a stark contrast to the past Congress meetings.
Although the current composition may seem like a significant step towards greater diversity, in reality, the overall situation remains the same. First, the absolute majority still belongs to heterosexual white males. Second, women occupy less than a third of the seats, which does not give them any substantial voting advantage. Third, other categories are too thin to make any lasting political impact. In essence, any initiative, which is directed at the promotion of minorities, is likely to be outvoted by the majority. Subsequently, the current meeting fails at equal representation despite the increasing number of minorities in it.
Looking at the numbers, it should be evident that there is a significant bias against minorities. The most explicit case is women, who are generally perceived to be vulnerable and incapable of maintaining a position of power compared to men (Geras, 2021). Homosexual men also encounter stereotypes, which portray them as too feminine. As a result, they do not enthuse voters with trust, who prefer traditional and proven social structures (Fraga & Hassell, 2021). Thus, it can be stated that common stereotypes and conformity prevent minorities from achieving proper representation in Congress.
At the same time, it would be a mistake to deny the fact of larger representation of minorities in comparison to previous years. The most important reason for such a trend lies in the success of women and representatives of ethnic and social groups in the political sphere. As more such people gain access to Congress and other decision-making bodies, more people feel inclined to trust and vote for them (Geras, 2021). In my opinion, such changes will definitely affect Congress’ business, as minorities always bring a new perspective, which is not evident to the majority of the population.
Altogether, it should be clear that the status quo is gradually changing. Each consecutive Congress meeting is consistently more diverse due to the increasing social awareness. The most effective way of ensuring equal representation is exposing average Americans to the viewpoints of minorities (Fraga & Hassell, 2021). The more aware the masses are about the discrimination, the more representatives of unrepresented groups will be in future Congress meetings. Therefore, raising awareness of the importance of ethnic, sexual, and social diversity is the most logical way for the American people to implement meaningful changes.
Fraga, B. L., & Hassell, H. J. (2021). Are minority and women candidates penalized by party politics? Race, gender, and access to party support. Political Research Quarterly, 74(3), 540-555. Web.
Flores, A., Gossett, C., Magni, G., & Reynolds, A. (2020). 11 openly LGBTQ lawmakers will take their seats in the next Congress. That’s a record in both numbers and diversity. The Washington Post. Web.
Geras, M. J. (2021). Women running the party and women running for Congress: An examination of state party diversity and candidate emergence in the 2018 midterm elections. Party Politics, 27(5), 942-952. Web.
Schaeffer, K. (2021). Racial, ethnic diversity increases yet again with the 117th Congress. Pew Research Center. Web.