Former political news analyst Karine Jean-Pierre, a Haitian-American immigrant, has been named the new White House press secretary, replacing Jen Psaki.
A longtime adviser to President Joe Biden, Jean-Pierre was his deputy assistant and the principal deputy press secretary. With the appointment, she will become the first Black woman and the first openly gay person in the role.
Black America is debating whether her appointment is progress or more Democrat symbolism.
She takes over the office on May 13. Psaki is leaving the Biden administration to take a job as a pundit at MSNBC.
Jean-Pierre, 44, was born in Martinique, Haiti, and is the daughter of Haitian immigrant parents who moved with her to the U.S. when she was 5. She was raised in New York and was initially on a pre-med track at the New York Institute of Technology before switching to public administration at Columbia University, Deadline reported.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Jean-Pierre served as chief of staff for now-Vice President Kamala Harris on the Biden campaign. Before joining Biden’s presidential campaign, she was an MSNBC and NBC political analyst and held roles at MoveOn.org and the American Civil Liberties Union. She also worked in President Barack Obama’s administration as regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs and on both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, The Daily Mail reported.
“She will be the first Black woman and the first openly LGBTQ+ person to serve as the White House Press Secretary. Representation matters and she will give a voice to many, but also make many dream big about what is truly possible,” outgoing press secretary Psaki tweeted.
Jean-Pierre’s appointment has sparked a debate among Black America on Twitter.
American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) co-founder Yvette Carnell @BreakingBrown tweeted that Symone Sanders should have got the job.
Sanders resigned as chief spokeswoman and a senior advisor for Vice President Harris on Dec. 2, 2021, to host a new MSNBC show called “Symone,” premiering on May 7. Sanders served as national press secretary for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders during his 2016 run, and in October 2016 she was hired by CNN to be a Democratic strategist and political commentator. In April 2019, she joined Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign as a senior advisor.
“I’m not a fan of Symone Sanders’ politics, but this should be her historic moment. Instead, she got tossed from Biden to the VP, then ousted. Now a woman w/ one of the thinnest political resumes in American history is ascending to a coveted job,” Carnell tweeted.
However, MSNBC talking head Joy-Ann Reid, a Democrat, tweeted that the appointment was progress for Black people in politics. “The White House makes it official: @K_JeanPierre@KJP46 will take the podium as White House press secretary on May 13th, making history as the first Black woman and first LGBTQ American to hold the post. As bad as things are in America right now, progress relentlessly continues.”
Tariq Nasheed, author of the book “Foundational Black American Race Baiter,” did not see the move as progress for Black America. “This is a NOTHINGBURGER and it means absolutely nothing for #FBA,” Nasheed tweeted.
Jean-Pierre’s appointment also caused an argument on Twitter over whether she is a Black American or not.
“Big congrats to @K_JeanPierre@KJP46 being named the next White House press secretary, becoming the first Black American to hold the position,” tweeted veteran journalist Roland Martin, host of the podcast #RolandMartinUnfiltered.
RoeCity93 called out Martin out in this response: “Dude, You yourself said this woman is Haitian American. When are you going to get your facts right? Oh, And we still waiting on you to come to Louisiana to knock on doors like you said. But, Seems as though your word is like you facts. Non-Existent & made up.”
“Lmao she’s still BLACK…..His tweet literally said the first BLACK AMERICAN to hold that position lmao. Stop reaching. You making us FBA’s look bad dawg,” _YaBoyKD @MusiqIsLyfe2 tweeted in response.
Martin shot back, “Fool. Haitians are BLACK. Damn.”
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Jean-Pierre has stepped in for Psaki at the podium multiple times.
Jean-Pierre and her partner, CNN political reporter Suzanne Malveaux, 55, have a 7-year-old daughter, Soleil. There could be a conflict of interest for CNN.
Malveaux joined CNN in 2002 and met Jean-Pierre in 2012 at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In her 2019 autobiography, “Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America,” Jean-Pierre wrote that struggled with her sexuality, which led to depression and an attempted suicide.
Photo: Joe Biden listens to a patron at a Mexican restaurant, May 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. Karine Jean-Pierre is pictured before a talk at the 92nd Street Y, New York, Oct. 7, 2018. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP). (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)