House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) apologized to his fellow party leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) for accusing them of employing “tokenism” in their staff hiring.
Tokenism is the practice of hiring a select few minorities to check the bare minimum boxes required to prove diversity.
Pelosi told the Washington Post that “of course” she accepted his apology. Hoyer said “well, he apologized” but added that Clyburn was “totally inaccurate. I mean, you’ve seen my staff. The irony is, my floor staff are all minorities — a Mexican, a Chinese American and an African American. I looked at him and said, ‘Jim, you’ve known me for 60 years. What are you saying?’”
Clyburn had said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Thursday that “tokenism was all right with [Pelosi and Hoyer],” adding that they don’t have experience with a “fully integrated staff.”
The congressman is now walking it back, saying that he was talking about the Hill at large and that “Nancy’s got a whole lot of black folks on her staff.”
“To the extent that that was not made clear, I apologize — I was not talking about their staff; I was talking about the broader caucus,” he added. “Our staffs are fine. The whole caucus is not fine.”
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