As an Indian American woman, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has occupied an unusual position in an administration whose broad lack of diversity at the highest levels of the federal government has been a defining feature.
Her surprise announcement Tuesday that she will leave her post by year’s end, amid reported friction with other top advisers to President Trump, further depletes the ranks of racial minorities and women serving in senior positions.
Haley’s departure leaves just four racial or ethnic minorities among the 23 Cabinet-level jobs. One, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, is among the five women left in those positions.
The situation drew fresh criticism from another high-ranking minority woman who left the White House staff — Omarosa Manigault Newman, an African American who resigned her post as a senior adviser to Trump under pressure in December. In a tweet, she called Haley “strong smart and authentic!”
“Losing Haley (a WOC) right before the election will be more of a statement of #45’s lack of diversity in this admin,” wrote Manigault Newman, using an acronym for “woman of color.”
In Trump’s Cabinet, the only remaining minorities are Chao, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whose father is from Lebanon. Inside the West Wing, the only ethnic minority among Trump’s senior staff is legislative affairs director Shahira Knight, who emigrated from Egypt as a child.
Some diversity advocates criticized Haley’s record, saying she did little to temper what they viewed as Trump’s hostile rhetoric and exclusionary policies against minority groups, immigrants and refugees.
“This administration, including and not limited to Nikki Haley and the president, have quickly set of a range of policies that have had a disproportionately detrimental impact on South Asians,” said Suman Raghunathan, executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together.
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