News Americas, FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, Fri. May 13, 2022: Once news broke that Karine Jean-Pierre would replace Jen Psaki as the next White House press secretary, the mainstream media immediately went to work, describing Jean-Pierre as making history as simply the next “black and openly gay” person.
As it was during the nomination and the election of Kamala Harris, Jean-Pierre’s Caribbean ancestry as well as the fact that she was an immigrant and a Haitian America, was completely ignored. Somehow her sexuality managed to trump that fact.
I’m still looking for an article, including in the New York Times, the Guardian, NPR, Reuters, CNBC or anyone outside of News Americas and the Haitian Times, that reported the facts – that Jean-Pierre is not simply black and gay, but Caribbean, immigrant and Haitian American
Unlike Harris, Jean-Pierre was not born to a Caribbean immigrant parent in the US but born in the Caribbean. Specifically, she was born in the French Caribbean territory of Martinique to Haitian immigrant parents.
That makes her an immigrant from the Caribbean as well as a Haitian American, since her parents later choose to leave Martinique and migrate to the US. But if you look in any mainstream news report, you will find no such details. It’s almost as if they feel it is way too much detail to include or that those details matter not.
In the post George Floyd era, I find it simultaneously hypocritical and also ironic, that these are the same news media that love to put themselves on a pedestal as the bastion of truth and facts. Yet they feel the need to simply slap on the ‘black’ label or ‘gay’ label and its punto finale.
The reality is that Blacks in America are not monolithic, and Karine Jean-Pierre is the living, breathing embodiment of that fact.
Unlike Harris, Jean-Pierre has made no small bones of her heritage and the immigrant struggles she and her parents endured as newcomers and outsiders in an American society that has consistently exhibited xenophobia and racism to immigrants, especially black immigrants.
In her book, ‘Moving Forward,’ Jean-Pierre shares her story of growing up in a Haitian American community in Queens, NY and later exploring her Haitian roots through a documentary.
“That immigrant upbringing, growing up in New York, it shaped everything and anything that I’m about, right, who — the person that I sit here — that sits before you, my hard work, my perseverance, the way I meet, see people and talk to people,” she told PBS’ Judy Woodroof in November 2019. “It has made me who I am, the type of mother that I have become, partner that I have become. My parents, Haitian immigrants, it’s like the immigrant experience.”
She also shared what it meant growing up in an immigrant family: “Being the oldest of three siblings, I had to take care of my siblings while my parents were working six, seven days a week. I had to feed them. And I’m 8 years older than my sister, 10 years older than my brother, so I was pretty young when they were toddlers, and make sure their food was cooked, make sure diapers were changed, because they had to provide for the family.”
Jean-Pierre’s story is a truly immigrant story. It is a black, Caribbean immigrant story that many of us can relate to. She has overcome struggle, sacrifice, racism and anxiety to ascend to now being the face of the President of the United States and the White House daily. That is no small feat but the only description she gets is “black and gay.”
The mainstream media has missed another major opportunity to truly celebrate this Black, Caribbean immigrant woman’s story in an era where immigration and immigrants, especially black immigrants from Haiti, are looked down upon, seen as less than and told “go back where you come from.”
But in their eyes, I guess being described simply as “black” is good enough. Screw the immigrant, Caribbean and Haitian, part. Who cares?
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com – The Black Immigrant Daily News.