Commentary: The Politics of Race

Old stereotypes and assumptions about intellect and competence still haunt Hispanic and black politicians in Washington

Illustration for TIME by John Ritter

It wasn't until the Democrats took over Congress last fall that the race factor in Washington really got interesting. After all, if you believed the Republican campaign rhetoric, the most powerful committees in the House were going to be headed by African Americans who were either radical or incompetent.

Well, the evidence so far is that they are neither. Charlie Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and his ranking member, Jim McCrery, a conservative Louisiana Republican, have worked out a small package of tax cuts to add to the minimum-wage bill. Rangel has said he has no interest...

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