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U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan taking a similarly diverse selfie during a presidential candidate debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Nov. 10, 2015. Bloomberg/Getty Images

Paul Ryan's Overwhelmingly White Selfie Says a Lot About America

Jul 18, 2016
Ideas

After many weeks in which cameras have helped expose racial disparity in the U.S., on July 17, Speaker of the House of Paul Ryan posted a revelatory photo to Instagram. The image, captioned “I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie,” featured an overwhelmingly white group of young people—opportunity and privilege in 1080 square pixels.

I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie.

A post shared by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on

The photograph instantly sparked debate and mockery:

https://twitter.com/MatthewACherry/status/754714108943937536

https://twitter.com/elongreen/status/754743714980003840/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

The post itself has received over 5,500 comments.

Let's keep in mind that the current Senate is 6% nonwhite. The House of Representatives is 80% white. The overall American population is just above 60% white. Yet somehow, this Congress is lauded for being the most diverse ever.

Ryan himself was a Congressional intern in 1991 for former Senator Bob Kasten, of Ryan’s native Wisconsin, who in April joined presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s foreign policy team. After Ryan graduated college the next year, he joined Sen. Kasten’s staff. Within six years, he was elected to Congress, which at the time was about 90% white.


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