us capitol building

Photo via tupungato/Getty Images (Licensed)

There is not much melanin in this room.

Can you spot Paul Ryan among this sea of Capitol Hill summer interns? Take your time. It’s hard, probably because basically everybody in this photo is white.

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

A photo posted by Speaker Paul Ryan (@speakerryan) on

A Capitol Hill internship seems like a hard-won position, earned through many years of hard work, connections, and—potentially—nepotism, so congratulations to all who made it. However, dang, there is a lack of melanin in that room.
How could this happen? How could there be dozens of interns and not a single, visible black face? Well, maybe Paul Ryan is a terrible magician who can only make other white people appear. Think about it.
The 114th Congress is the most diverse ever, but that was a low bar to cross. According to Pew Research, only 17 percent of Congress is non-white. White people make up 83 percent of Congress, but just 62 percent of the general U.S. population. According to a Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies report from December 2015, non-white people make up just 7.1 percent of top Senate staffers. States with high Black and Hispanic populations tend to have fewer senior staffers of color.

Looking at this photo, it’s hard not to see how that happens.

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