Donald Trump expected to appoint anti-racism politician Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy

Rick Perry pushed through a number of progressive policies as Governor of Texas

Rick Perry seen during meeting the President-elect at Trump Tower in November

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

After appointing Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State this morning, Donald Trump is expected to name Rick Perry as his new Secretary of Energy - an appointment which may surprise a few people.

Perry, the former Governor of Texas and a fleeting presidential candidate in 2016, may differ little from conventional Republican doctrine in his policies, chiefly the reduction of state-funded healthcare and a vehement opposition to same-sex marriage. In his passionate support for states' rights, he may seem to some an heir to the policies espoused by the leaders of the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

However it seems that Perry's view on racism differs markedly from his approach to homophobia. He has made headlines in the past for speaking out against racism in his party, a stance which some might suggest is diametrically opposed to Trump and his baiting of Mexicans and immigrants.

In a speech made to announce his withdrawal from the presidential campaign, he said: â€œWe can secure the border and reform our immigration system without inflammatory rhetoric, without base appeals that divide us based on race, culture and creed.

"Demeaning people of Hispanic heritage is not just ignorant, it betrays the example of Christ. We can enforce our laws and our borders, and we can love all who live within our borders, without betraying our values.”

Perry has also said that no state should "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” and said that even the Federal Government, whose power he often rails against, has a vital role to play in upholding civil rights.

During his brief presidential campaign, Perry also made great play of the fact that he appointed black people to several top roles in the administration of Texas during his time as governor, including chief of staff and chief justice of the Supreme Court. Gary Bledsoe, head of the Texas branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Perry "had an open mind" and introduced a number of positive policies during his governorship, including a ban on racial profiling and a law to ensure poor defendants were propperly represented in criminal cases.

Critics will suggest that Perry's record on racism is far from universally positive. As a child, he and his family hunted at a ranch called 'Niggerhead.' Although Perry now claims his parents painted over the sign after buying it, this is surely a stick critics will beat him with during his term of office.

Yet for the moment Perry's appointment provides a ray of hope for people who feel Trump is nothing more than an unreconstructed racist and will run his administration along the deepest of colour lines. The President-elect's new inner circle appears heavily conservative in its construction, but at least there might be one progressive voice in amongst it.