united states - Why does the US usually send African-American ambassadors to African countries?

A tweet by Graeme Wood said:

Randomly selected example: observe how many African-American U.S. ambassadors are sent to "black" countries, how few to Europe: http://www.blackpast.org/african-american-u-s-ambassadors-1869

By my count, 126-16. This is some combination of strange/troubling/scandalous

Wood claims that it's because many people, including US liberals, think that minorities "must only study themselves".

Why does the United States mainly send African-American ambassadors to African countries? And is it an ongoing practice?

2 Answers

  1. Joseph- Reply


    Per Wikipedia:

    US Ambassadors are sourced from one of two avenues: Either they are Career Foreign Service Officers (or Career Diplomat or CD) or Political Appointees (PA). In the former case, they typically serve a 3 year tour of duty. The latter serve until the inaugeration of the new President, at which point they resign. PAs are typically made a good donation to the campaign of the Presdient where as the CDs are more trained for a specific mission or culture and better understand it. While there is no written rule over which is which, a CD might be given an embassy that needs more specialty to run while the PA is given an embassy that is a pretty easy job, politically. In some cases, the PA might be selected for public relations in that country (Caroline Kennedy, the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy, was appointed as Ambassador to Japan by President Obama, due in part for the popularity of her father among the Japanese nation.).

    Most likely, the reason for an ambassador to server a particular office if they are CDs is because they are particularly knowledgeable about the nation they wish to serve and can be experts in US relations with them. The test to get a Diplomatic Posting is quite rigorous and the candidates are taken with the highest score first.

  2. Joshua- Reply


      Racial solidarity does exist, despite politically correct claims for otherwise. Humans are simply genetically hard-wired to bond and trust someone who looks familiar, i.e. shares same racial features. Even recognizing different people from other races could be difficult - famous cross-race effect.

      Considering that main goal of diplomacy is to appear friendly to foreign nation, in order to gain their sympathy and promote interest of own country, it is politically wise to send diplomat that looks like native population and is therefore much easily accepted then complete foreigner. As United States have multiracial population, it is relatively easy to find someone of appropriate ethnic background to a country in question.

    EDIT some quotes that prove that cross-race effect, and consequently racial solidarity, are actually hard-wired in brain

    For example, the results of studies done where the accessibility, as in how easy or not it is for a person to be around people of difference races, to different races is manipulated, showed that this does not always affect face memory.

    The mixed evidence shows that although there is some support to the theory that the more interracial contact a person has the better a person is at cross-race recognition, all the evidence gathered does not come to the same conclusion.[10] This mixture of results causes the relationship between cross-race exposure and recognition ability to weaken.[

    Also this well known article shows that "racial bias" i.e. in fact racial solidarity starts very early, at babies 6 months old, therefore excluding social contact and reducing this to inborn effect.

    He and researchers from the University of Toronto, the U.S., U.K., France and China, show that six to nine month olds demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.

    “When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experiences he or she may have had with other-race individuals. But these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals,” said Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao, who also led research for the two studies and now is a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University.

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