Only about 4 percent of Alaska's population is black but, nonetheless, Governor Palin seems to have managed to develop a bad reputation among them according to Gwendolyn Alexander of the African American Historical Society of Alaska. Via Electronic Village, this seems to be the most pertinent quote: 

While meeting with Black leaders concerning the absence of any African Americans on her staff, Gov. Palin responded that she doesn't have to hire any Blacks and was not intending to hire any.
That seems like a particularly rude attitude to take considering, as Pam Spaulding writes, that Palin hired a director of the State Division of Agriculture based on her "childhood love of cows" and the fact that they went to high school together (The New York Times reports that the latter qualification is something of a theme in Palin's hiring practices). This seems to adhere to an age old double standard regarding hiring, which is that there's no such thing as an unqualified white person when a black person is applying for the same job. 
Many people get jobs because of who they know, and this is certainly true of both Democratic and Republican leadership at all levels of government. But, as Matthew Yglesias notes, the problem is more than racism. When you hire people solely based on personal associations or turn away qualified candidates for arbitrary reasons like race you end up with situations like FEMA's ineptness during Hurricane Katrina or the scandals in our current Department of Justice. Too often, cronyism and prejudice go hand in hand in aiding incompetence. Of course, tokenism is a problem too.

--A. Serwer

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