Indian American Former Diplomat Calls Out Trump Administration Over Gender and Racial Bias

Indian American former diplomat Uzra Zeya, who quit the U.S. State Department earlier this year, has spoken about the declining diversity in the Trump administration.


Indian American former diplomat Uzra Zeya has criticized the Trump’s administration, saying there is less room for people from the minority communities in the State Department.  

Zeya, who worked for the U.S. State Department for 27 years, resigned earlier this year. In a recent magazine article, she has talked about how the administration has come to be dominated by white people. Born in the United States to Indian immigrant parents, Zeya said that she rose “through the State Department’s ranks without perceiving that my ethnicity, gender, or religion impeded my career.” 

In the article in Politico magazine, she talked about how things started to unfold during the first five months of the Trump administration coming to power. “The department’s three most senior African-American career officials and the top-ranking Latino career officer were removed or resigned abruptly from their positions, with white successors named in their places. In the months that followed, I observed top-performing minority diplomats be disinvited from the secretary’s senior staff meeting, relegated to FOIA duty (well below their abilities), and passed over for bureau leadership roles and key ambassadorships,” she wrote.

Citing public data, she wrote that “64 percent of Trump‘s ambassadorial nominees so far have been white non-Hispanic males, a 7 percentage point increase from the eight years of the Obama administration. President Trump stands out from his six predecessors in his failure so far to nominate a single African-American female ambassador.”  

From September 2016 to June 2018, the participation of African Americans in the Senior Foreign Service dropped from 4.6 percent to 3.2 percent. The graph of inclusion of female ambassadors, on an onward swing for 25 years, had seen a reverse, with only 26 percent participation of female members, a 7 percent drop from Obama’s administration, she said in her write-up. 

In an interview to WNCW, the former diplomat said, “And I conclude bias because of the actions of this administration, quite frankly, in putting more white males in positions of authority and closing windows of opportunity for persons of color and women at the top level.” 

Speaking about Secretary Mike Pompeo, Zeya noted although the state promises to fix all this with Pompeo’s “incredible emphasis on staffing up the State Department and increasing diversity as well as reinvigorating and restoring the finest diplomatic corps in the world,” it does not completely address the large vacant position at the top senior level where diversity is still invisible. “Foggy Bottom’s upper echelons are looking whiter, more male and less like America,” she wrote.  

Zeya concluded by saying that it’s difficult “to leverage diversity with a Senior Foreign Service that remains 88.8 percent white and more than two-thirds male. The most meaningful step toward rebuilding a State Department that looks like America is electing a president who cherishes our legacy as a nation of immigrants and diversity as one of many strengths that make our diplomatic corps—and America as a whole—truly great.” 

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