The White House Press Secretary is the face of the administration they represent...in more ways than one. Whoever fills this crucial role provides the official response to a multitude of questions, concerns, outrages, and challenges. And that person’s attitudes and actions shape the way we perceive the White House and the President’s basic relationship to the press corps, the American public, and the historical record.
In recent years, some real doozies – and don’t-sees – have filled the post. The estimable Jen Psaki brought much needed coherence and sanity to the role. And the new Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is an even more welcome change in governmental circles. Representation matters, so as the first black person and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to hold the job, Ms. Jean-Pierre’s appointment is already something for the history books. Born in Martinique, Jean-Pierre was raised in Queens, New York and currently lives in Washington, D.C. with her partner, Suzanne Malveaux of CBS News, and their daughter Soleil.
May 16, 2022 was her first day as Press Secretary. Before she got down to dealing with the issues at hand, she took a moment to acknowledge this momentous achievement. As quoted by Insider, Ms. Jean-Pierre said:
“I am obviously acutely aware that my presence
at this podium represents a few firsts. I am a
Black, gay, immigrant woman, the first of all
three of those to hold this position. If it were
not for generations of barrier-breaking people
before me, I would not be here. But I benefit
from their sacrifices. I have learned from their
excellence, and I am forever grateful to them.”
Ms. Jean-Pierre brings some mighty impressive credentials to her latest role in the Biden administration. She served as Psaki’s Deputy Press Secretary and as Chief of Staff for current Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2020 bid for the White House. She’s been a spokesperson and Senior Advisor for MoveOn.org and a commentator for NBC News and MSNBC. Add to that, she played a role in Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.
In a political scene which fosters and harbors a thousand different kinds of hatred, here’s a woman who embodies inclusion, diversity, and the richness of American life.Interested in learning more about the fascinating Ms. Jean-Pierre? Check out her inspirational 2019 memoir Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of Americahere.
Honor Molloy is a novelist and award-winning dramatist who’s working on unknown22 – a play about a young woman who's been drifting in the currents of the East River for 150 years.