Indian American diplomat leaves Department of State due to lack of diversity

Uzra Zeya, Acting Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, speaks at a news conference in Beijing August 2, 2013. The United States got few answers to questions about detained activists during its annual rights dialogue with China, and believes the situation in the country continues to deteriorate, Zeya said on Friday. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Uzra Zeya, an Indian American, decided to walk out from her job as a U.S. diplomat in the Department of State after serving the country for the last 27 years.

Zeya told Politico, that since joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1990, she saw much growth in diversity within the U.S. Department of State, especially during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

However, with the entry of President Donald Trump, the amount of diversity in the department has been decreasing.

According to the Politico report, as of June 2018, 6.8 percent of Foreign Service generalists were of Asian descent, which is a little above the actual percentage of the Asian-American population in the 2010 U.S. Census.

In addition, the percentage of Hispanics in the Foreign Service was six while 5.4 percent were African-Americans and 0.3 percent was Native Americans.

Zeya further mentions in the Politico report that within the first five months of Trump’s administration, three of the most senior African-American career officials as well as the top-ranking Latino career officer in the department were either removed or resigned.

This trend continued through the next few months as Zeya noticed that many top-performing minority diplomats were not invited to various government activities, though the Department of State says that it is working towards fixing all of this.

For Zeya, it started with planning President Trump’s Bastille Day visit while she was working at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France.

Upon returning to Washington, she was blocked from a series of senior-level jobs, with no explanation.

“In two separate incidents, however, colleagues told me that a senior State official opposed candidates for leadership positions—myself and an African-American female officer—on the basis that we would not pass the ‘Breitbart test.’ One year into an administration that repudiated the very notion of America I had defended abroad for 27 years, I knew I could no longer be a part of it, and I left government earlier this year,” Zeya told Politico.

During her 27 year tenure, Zeya served at U.S. embassies in Jamaica, Egypt, Syria, Oman and India, along with witnessing the impact of diversity in the United States in response to the 9/11 attacks among other instances.



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