Republican Florida Rep. Brian Mast appeared to catch the State Department’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer off guard with a line of questioning about his race during a hearing Tuesday.
Ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer in the history of the State Department, repeatedly answered “I do not know” when Mast asked her what race he is. Mast used his time during a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee for Oversight and Accountability to question why the State Department examines race and ethnicity in hiring processes.
“Can you tell me, am I white?” Mast asked Abercrombie-Winstanley. The ambassador took a long pause before telling Mast she would have to ask Mast to tell her how he characterizes himself.
“That’s exactly right, I would have to tell you not just how I characterize myself but what I am,” Mast said. “But I’m asking, do you know if I’m white?” (RELATED: State Department Offers Counseling To Employees Misgendered In Emails)
“I do not know,” Abercrombie-Winstanley answered. She gave the same answer when Mast proceeded to ask whether he’s half-black, Latino, Asian or Pacific Islander or brown.
In a rather amusing yet illustrative exchange, @RepBrianMast leaves the State Department’s chief diversity officer a bit dumbfounded by asking her if he’s white or not @DailyCaller pic.twitter.com/bn3hHRGLiB
— Dylan Housman (@Dylan_Housman) June 13, 2023
Mast, originally from Michigan, represents a district in south Florida just north of the Miami area. He’s half-Latino, with his maternal grandparents having immigrated to the United States from Mexico.
“It shouldn’t matter that I’m half-Mexican, it shouldn’t matter whether I’m able-bodied, or ambulatory or not ambulatory, that doesn’t have anything to do with what my background is,” Mast continued. Being an effective Foreign Service Officer “has nothing to do with how somebody looks,” he said.
Abercrombie-Winstanley, the daughter of a secretary and attorney with an undergraduate degree from George Washington University and a masters degree from Johns Hopkins, is a career diplomat. She previously served at State Department posts in Iraq, Indonesia, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia before serving as Ambassador to Malta during the Obama administration. She will be departing her current post later this month.