Editorial – Y&G needs more diversity
Politics and government has a reputation of not being very inclusive, with most politicians being Caucasian males. In fact, every single Illinois governor has been a Caucasian male, even though roughly 30% of Illinois’s population is composed of minorities, with African-Americans being the largest minority, at 15% of the overall population. Females also represent about 50% of the population, yet all of the governors elected in Illinois have been males.
Y&G does have a slightly better record than the state of Illinois. Although the program does not keep specific records regarding the race of past youth governors, in the last five years alone, the program has elected two Asian and one African-American youth governors. While the last few years have been particularly diverse, the majority of youth governors have been Caucasian.
There have also been a few female youth governors since the program’s inception in 1950; however, the numbers are nothing to brag about; less than 10% of youth governors elected have been female.
This begs the question – is there a need for more diversity in Y&G leadership positions?
To play devil’s advocate, should it matter what race or gender the candidates are or should we be more concerned with simply making sure the best person is elected regardless of race or gender?
However, shouldn’t we want more youth governors and candidates that reflect our diverse student population in Y&G? My answer to this question would be yes.
There is no obvious way to solve the problem of lack of diversity. To start, Y&G advisors could encourage more minorities and females to run for office by preparing them for a run starting early on, such as in their freshman or sophomore year. The program could also try and attract more schools with larger minority student populations to start a Y&G delegation.
I believe that by encouraging young minorities and women to participate in the political process through Y&G, we will be encouraging a future with more diverse leadership. Hopefully, in the near future we will see governments that better reflect the people they represent and perhaps even an Illinois governor who breaks a rather disappointing streak of lack of diversity.
(by Austin Tuttle, co-editor)