BIPOC Voices, History & Now

White House news: who is Karine Jean-Pierre?

She’s actually a really big deal.

words by: Natasha Marsh
Jul 24, 2022

Early quarantine, I experimented with a lot of protective styles, switching from box braids, bantu knots, fulani braids, and extensions. There was one day that stood out to me. I was heading to Target with my sister and when we both exited the car, my hair in bantu knots and her hair in two-strand twists, we saw a small Black girl staring at us. It didn’t take long for her to run up to us and excitedly exclaim that her hair was just like ours.


The young child was probably six-years-old, and similar to how we felt growing up in our majority white town, had rarely seen women of color or hair like hers. This moment of representation mattered to us and certainly meant something to the small girl. It proved to her that her hair wasn’t an isolated situation and that she could grow up and continue to wear it how she chooses. It was a moment of empowerment, similar to what many people of color felt with the news of Karine Jean-Pierre.


Karine Jean-Pierre, a dope political figure who previously held the title of Principal Deputy Press Secretary, is officially the White House Press Secretary, taking over for Jen Psaki, according to President Joe Biden. “Karine not only brings the experience, talent and integrity needed for this difficult job, but she will continue to lead the way in communicating about the work of the Biden-Harris Administration on behalf of the American people,” Biden stated when announcing the news. “Jill and I have known and respected Karine a long time and she will be a strong voice speaking for me and this Administration.”


Why does this moment remind me of the hair story? Because, Jean-Pierre is the first Black person and the first openly gay person to hold the job of Press Secretary, dating back to 1929. That’s 93 years of non-Black and non-LGBTQ+ White House Press Secretaries. “This is a historic moment, and it’s not lost on me,” Jean-Pierre shared with NPR in a press briefing.


“I understand how important it is for so many people out there, so many different communities, that I stand on their shoulders and I have been throughout my career.” And when she addressed all the Black children out there, she said this powerful statement: “Follow your passion, follow what you believe in and just keep that focus.”


This moment is huge in every way. Congratulations, Karine Jean-Pierre.


In related news of Black excellence, read about Jessica Watkins, the first Black woman on an International Space Station crew.


Photo via Doug Mills/The New York Times