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Lauren Hogan
Washington, DC

Lauren Hogan

My resume suggests that I'm black. I’m not. But I’m not afraid to talk about race, either.

Incomplete 'Pledge to America'

The first thing I noticed in the GOP's recently released "A Pledge to America" was the grammatical error in the second sentence.  On a related note, I noticed that the word "education" does not appear once in the entire document. 

But it was the pictures, not the words, which fundamentally caught my eye.  "A Pledge to America" has 48 pages and 45 pictures that include people. If you search very closely, particularly in photographs of auditoriums and senior centers, you can find six people who are plausibly, though not obviously, individuals of color. Rep. John Boehner does not count. 

There are two possible explanations for the white-washing of the Pledge: either the authors were intentional in their selection of photographs or they were not. Both options raise serious concerns about the GOP's ability to unify and lead this country. 

If the failure to feature even one Black or Latino person was accidental, then I have some questions about the level of cluelessness within the party's leadership. Whites will make up less than 50 percent of the US population within the next 40 years - it's a demographic inevitability. If high-ranking officials can look at 50 pages of Caucasian faces staring out of them from their party's signature agenda and not notice a problem, then they have a problem.

And yet I find it hard to believe, given our over-analyzed and meticulously staged political sphere, that the Pledge's lack of diversity was pure oversight.

Which leads me to the other explanation: the GOP deliberately chose to feature page after page of middle and upper-aged white Americans as a calculated strategy. Looking to this November, if not the ones beyond, they decided to target the people they think they can win, discarding everyone else. If this is true, then the Republican party is publicly declaring itself to be one of exclusion.   

And it's not only leaving out folks who are Black, Latino or Asian. The GOP also decided that children weren't worth inclusion in their "new governing agenda." There isn't a single picture of a kid anywhere in these pages.   

The GOP says this is an agenda "built through a process of listening to the people." Well, people, now it's time to listen to the party. You want to see "the priorities of our nation" according to Republicans? Open your ears - and your eyes. The pictures tell you all you need to know. 

By Lauren Hogan  |  October 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Initial Entries
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This young lady will do very well in MSM graduate school. Some of my best friends are black and latino too. Please learn to do your own homework, then report the facts.
I am not interested in some young girls opinion until she's had several years of real world experience under her belt and lost the colllege naivete thank you.Top ten on Letterman maybe!

Posted by: ZGray | October 20, 2010 2:19 PM
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Very interesting perspective (had not read anything about the photo portion of the pledge prior to this), excellent analysis, and enjoyable to read- smart, analytical, and even a little witty!

@silencedogoodreturn: probably when you "non-progressives" start accepting people for their sex/color/religion/sexual preference :)

@jgdonahue: "Didn't include anything that was in the pledge"? 45 pictures within a 48 page document counts for quite of a bit of substance, don't you think? ESPECIALLY, as the author notes, in such a carefully executed document.

@edboot63: The rest of your 4th grade class must have been really annoyed with you. Does being an adult mean that you ignore images used in conjunction with a particular stance? The author clearly states that her piece is a commentary on the photo portion of the pledge; or, did you stop reading topic sentences of paragraphs in 4th grade, too?

Posted by: hlm4640 | October 20, 2010 12:25 AM
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Oh, gawd. Another person who thinks its all about race. WHen will you "progressives" finally judge a person by their worth, not by their sex/color/religion/sexual prefence?

Posted by: silencedogoodreturns | October 18, 2010 3:06 PM
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I'm with Chucky-el, who, if memory serves, was one of last year's toughest contest critics. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Thought, analysis, BEFORE writing---what a concept!

Posted by: martymar123 | October 18, 2010 7:46 AM
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I enjoyed your manner of exposing the motivation behind the “pledge” and look forward to more.
Your technique offers your reader to choose whether or not they are proud of their ignorance, an unfortunate trend in American public perceptions.

Posted by: Hardeman1 | October 15, 2010 7:10 PM
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@realitybased, if the Pledge to America is as dumbed down as you claim, what’s that say about the GOP?

@JGDonahue, pictures are worth a lot of words. They say things that words can’t. That’s what the author was trying to convey.

@KerryNH: I agree! In my house, he’s called either Rep. Tanman or He-With-Envious-Eyes-On-Pelosi’s-Chair.

@the author: Fire up your social networks. From here on out, that’s what matters.

Posted by: MsJS | October 14, 2010 10:30 AM
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I think your column was sold short by the title, which leads the readers to expect a direct substantive criticism of the pledge. But is it quite interesting.

Posted by: Couvade | October 14, 2010 8:57 AM
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I read the text of the Pledge, sans pictures. I stopped relying on pictures to explain substance when I was in 4th grade. I would like for the winner of this contest to write to adults, as an adult. If you disagree with a position, please make an accurate representation of that position, instead of veering off on tangents.

Similar to another one of the editor's picks, this is another "Two Americas" promoter. Please Washington Post, try to give us someone who will write intelligently.

Posted by: edboot63 | October 13, 2010 7:51 PM
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Great observation, analysis, and writing. Clearly a Top Ten - if you can do this well with more meaty subjects, such as the Debt, the Wars, avoiding the Second Great Depression, the Republicans being the Party of the Rich, By the Rich, and For the Rich, their only real agenda. I look forward to your next offering.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 13, 2010 3:35 PM
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I agree with the previous post - in the not too distant past, the republicans managed (with amazing strategery, I might add) to install in the White House an individual who could not string two coherent sentences together if his life depended on it. His agonizingly LONG eight years of political, financial and social mismanagement of this nation have created problems that they cannot solve, but to make matters worse, they resist every effort on the part of those "across the aisle" who are at least TRYING to come up with solutions. They offer NOTHING but mindless and lockstep recalcitrance.
So if their pledge happens to have only a few grammatical errors, then they certainly have come a long way - linguistically speaking. It is just really too bad for America that they don't really have anything to say.

Posted by: Pirsqrd | October 12, 2010 10:05 PM
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-If you're referring to the pronoun-antecedent error in the 2nd sentence, there's another one like it in the 1st. For Republicans, though, one grammatical error per sentence isn't bad.
-You're selling the GOP short: I counted at least 4 people in the photos that might be of color, PLUS one of the people jaywalking on p. 38 could be black. You never know! If you want to see people of color in GOP campaign materials, try this:
-About the surge in nonwhite demographic numbers, the GOP is doing what it can to sabotage that trend--at our borders, on our farms & orchards, & in our hospitals.
Responding to others:
-Unlike having no pictures of kids, the word "child" does appear in the document--but only in the form of the adult concern with money (child tax credits & debt burdens for future generations).
-And even if the pix are for 4th graders, we do have 4th graders in this country who aren't white. The problem is that they're unlikely to be interested in campaign ads.
-And for the reader who has trouble thinking of blacks who identify themselves as conservatives, here are some names that came to mind with no effort: Alan Keyes, Alveda King, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Clarence Thomas. The problem with racial profiling is that it just doesn't seem to be worth the effort.

Posted by: kerwinru12 | October 12, 2010 3:25 PM
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A great piece of writing! I can't wait to read more.

Posted by: writerchic58 | October 12, 2010 12:13 PM
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Lauren, It was interesting to note that you did not include anything that was in the Pldge - focusing only on "education" and pictures of who was or was not included. This leaves the reader wondering what "subtstance" was missing? Also, focusing an opinion piece on the color of skin is what is wrong with our country, don't you think? We should be focuing on the "content of their character" not the color of their skin. Real "diversity" has to do with ideas and opportunity. The opinion piece was not very compelling, contained very few facts for the reader to ponder, and when you comment thatthe GOP left children out - there was no substantiating data to validate your claim - only a picture? Weak argument.

Posted by: jgdonahue | October 12, 2010 9:11 AM
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Funny comment about Boehner!

Posted by: KerryNH | October 12, 2010 1:53 AM
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Too shallow.
Open your ears--and your eyes.
It is a pledge, for goodness' sake!
the pictures were for the 4th grade level
readers, the text for 7th grade.
And what person of color wants to be identified as a conservative? Did you notice
how blasted and persecuted Black and Latino
Conservatives are? And for once, I don't want photos of kids plastered for the public to see. I don't like what Facebook exposes children too either.
We get you like children, especially urban ones. I do too. And I spend quite a bit of time with them. But I for one say for once
politicians didn't exploit people in their photos. And besides the text matters here no balance in this. You dismiss the pledge with cheap shots. Didn't like it. Need
legitimate premise to respect the post.

Posted by: realitybased1 | October 11, 2010 12:31 PM
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