Diversity in adversity: Accomplished new White House press secretary is Black and LGBTQ+

WASHINGTON: The Press Secretary to the US President typically dispenses news from the White House lectern, but Biden’s new aide is making news. Karine Jean-Pierre, a former chief of staff to Kamala Harris, who was promoted to the post on Thursday, will be the first Black and openly lesbian person to serve as White House press secretary in what is arguably the most diverse administration in US history.
“She will be the first black woman, the first out LGBTQ+ person to serve in this role, which is amazing because representation matters and she will give a voice to so many,” the outgoing press secretary Jen Psaki said while warmly introducing Jean-Pierre to the White House press corps, calling her “my partner in truth.”
Psaki is slated to join MSNBC in a revolving door syndrome that oftens sees press secs become TV talking heads and vice-versa. Jean-Pierre was previously a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC and also a former lecturer in international and public affairs at Columbia University.
Jean-Pierre’s partner is CNN political correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, a connection that agitated the right wing news media because of the purported “conflict of interest,” with one outlet headlining its story “CNN in bed with Biden.” By that token, Fox News has long been in bed with Trump Republicans.
Born to Haitian parents, Jean-Pierre had a tough upbringing in New York City where her father was a taxi-drive and her mother was a health care worker. After graduation she worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 and later transitioned into the Obama White House, becoming one of the first openly gay staffers in an America that became increasingly diverse and accepting of different sexual orientation.
“What’s been wonderful is that I was not the only; I was one of many. President Obama didn’t hire LGBT staffers, he hired experienced individuals who happen to be LGBT. Serving and working for President Obama where you can be openly gay has been an amazing honor. It felt incredible to be a part of an administration that prioritizes LGBT issues,” she said in one interview.
The Biden administration has taken the diversity to a whole other level, appointing scores of openly LGBTQ professionals to full-time and advisory positions in the executive branch. They include Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly a gay cabinet member, and Dr Rachel Levine, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services, who is the first openly transgender person in a Senate-confirmed post.
The White House Press Secretary has taken on a increasingly prominent role in the TV and social media era from the “Early” days when the exclusively media office was conceived. Journalist Stephen Early became the first formally designated White House press secretary charged only with press responsibilities during the Franklin Roosevelt presidency. Among his tasks: keep photographers at a distance hide the severity of FDR’s polio, a tradition that continues to this day with most press secretaries striving to mask the disabilities of the administration.