What does one make of a governor who in 2011 flatly tells respected representative group of his state’s black legislators that “I don’t need your people?” This is the same governor who blew off the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s invitation to attend the tenth annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration while he was in the city. The same governor who one of his first acts on taking office was to strike “gender identity” from his predecessor’s executive order that prohibited discrimination against state employees. Then he tops all of this by becoming the first governor in the state in nearly a half century not to appoint a single African-American, Hispanic, or Asian person to his cabinet.
The governor is Ohio GOP governor John Kasich. The governor loudly protested when confronted with his racial callousness, gender insensitivity, and flat out borderline bigotry. He claimed he tried to get a couple of blacks in his cabinet but said they turned him down. He said he didn’t mean “your people” as in the textbook racial pejorative “you people” but rather was referring to the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus when its members complained about his lily white cabinet.
Kasich rolled back the clock to another time and place in the country’s history when a governor’s idea of diversity was to choose white men of different sizes, shapes, eye and hair color to their cabinets, as appointees, officials and agency heads. Kasich seemed happily oblivious and comfortable with his white only picks, and judging from his smack down of the Black Caucus, defiant. Normally, this could be chalked up to one politician’s ignorance and stupidity. But that’s too simple.