When I saw the headline “U.S. Congressman asks Clinton to demote Rajiv Shah,” I thought that the USAID director had done something seriously wrong. Perhaps Shah had bungled the U.S. relief efforts in Haiti, sending too much rice but not enough beans. Or perhaps he had handed a reconstruction job to an Indian-American Contractor who doesn’t do any contracting. But no, nothing of that sort.
U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to demote the official coordinating relief efforts in Haiti, Dr. Rajiv Shah, for a lack of diversity on his staff. [Link]
In his letter to Clinton, Conyers wrote: “As you know, the 42 member Congressional Black Caucus met with Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. AID yesterday to discuss the crisis in Haiti. I was alarmed and chagrined to learn that none of the approximately dozen staff he brought with him were African American. This is so serious an error in judgement that it warrants his immediate demotion to a subordinate position at AID. It is well known that there has long been an under-representation of minorities in key positions within the State Department. I am confident this Administration will immediately begin addressing this problem.” [Source: The Hill]
Poor Shah. Perhaps someone had told him that he’d be appearing in front of the Congressional White Caucus. Perhaps he was under the mistaken belief that race doesn’t matter much in 2010, that he just has to surround himself with qualified people. Or perhaps he took his resemblance to Obama a little too seriously and forgot to speak with the right dialect.