Tag: Named

2 Lesbian Moms of Color Named to All-Women Biden Communications Team

2 Lesbian Moms of Color Named to All-Women Biden Communications

Two—yes, two—lesbian moms of color have been named to Joe Biden’s all-women White House communications team.

Karine Jean-Pierre at BookExpo at the Javits Center in New York City, May 2019. Photo: Rhododendrites. Used under a (CC BY-SA 4.0) license. Pili Tobar speaking at U.S. State Department, July 2016. Image: State Department/public domain.

Karine Jean-Pierre, a veteran political organizer, commentator, and author, who served as senior advisor to President-Elect Joe Biden and chief of staff to Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris during the campaign, will become principal deputy press secretary. She served as regional political director for the White House Office of Political Affairs in the Obama administration and as deputy battleground sates director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, was more recently chief public affairs officer for MoveOn and an NBC and MSNBC political analyst. She is also on the faculty of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

In an interview with Hollywood Life at the end of July, she spoke about her reasons for being part of the Biden campaign, saying, “I felt like this is my job as a mom to step in. I thought about my six year-old and I thought about what kind of planet or world or country are we going to be leaving to her and her peers,” adding, “I’m a Black woman, I’m a gay woman and I’m an immigrant. And Donald Trump, he is someone who hates everything I am.”

Jean-Pierre was born in Martinique to Haitian parents but raised in New York City. In her 2019 book, Moving Forward: A Story of Hope, Hard Work, and the Promise of America, she writes about her unconventional path to political involvement and how and why others, no matter their backgrounds, need to step up and participate today.

Pili Tobar, who served as the communications director for coalitions on the Biden-Harris campaign, will become deputy White House communications director. She previously served as the deputy director for America’s Voice, where she advocated on behalf of immigrants. She has also served as the Hispanic media director for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and held a number of other senior communications positions. Originally from Florida and raised in Guatemala, Tobar is a graduate of the University of Miami. She lives in Washington D.C. with her wife and daughter.

They are not the first LGBTQ people to have White House communications roles. Judd Deere is currently White House deputy press secretary, and Eric Schulz held the same position in the Obama administration, the Washington Blade reminds us. As queer women of color, however, and as queer parents, they break new ground. This is not to say that all queer parents should aspire to such lofty careers. Sometimes, we need to take the job that simply puts food on the table—or to forego outside employment in order to better care for our children. At the same time, I find it inspiring to see that increasingly, queer parents who want to ascend to positions of significant national power can do so.

Other members of the Biden-Harris communications team will be Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director; Jennifer Psaki, White House press secretary; Ashley Etienne, communications director for Vice President Harris; Symone Sanders, senior adviser and chief spokesperson for the vice president; and Elizabeth E. Alexander, communications director for First Lady Jill Biden.


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Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur Fellow

Author and Queer Mom Jacqueline Woodson Named a 2020 MacArthur

Author Jaqueline Woodson yesterday was named one of the winners of this year’s MacArthur “genius grants”—one of at least three queer moms ever to win the accolade.

Jacqueline Woodson - Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Jacqueline Woodson – Photo Credit: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The MacArthur Fellowship, as the grant is officially known, is a “no-strings-attached,” $625,000 grant “for individuals who have shown exceptional creativity in their work and the promise to do more.” The MacArthur Foundation says of Woodson:

Jacqueline Woodson is a writer redefining children’s and young adult literature in works that reflect the complexity and diversity of the world we live in while stretching young readers’ intellectual abilities and capacity for empathy. In nearly thirty publications that span picture books, young adult novels, and poetry, Woodson crafts stories about Black children, teenagers, and families that evoke the hopefulness and power of human connection even as they tackle difficult issues such as the history of slavery and segregation, incarceration, interracial relationships, social class, gender, and sexual identity.

Woodson served as Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2015 to 17 and the National Ambassador for Children’s Literature from 2018 to 19. This past May, she won the Hans Christian Andersen Award, “the highest international distinction given to authors and illustrators of children’s books.” She has also won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world’s largest award for children’s and young adult literature, the Margaret A. Edwards Award “for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature,” and the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (then known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award) for ” a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.” Her 2014 Brown Girl Dreaming won the Coretta Scott King Author Award as well as Newbery and Sibert Honors, and her 2005 Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, won a Caldecott Honor.  (For the entire list of her accolades and books, see her website.)

One of her earlier books, the Coretta Scott King Honor book From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun (1995), is about a Black boy whose single mother starts dating a White woman—although not all of her books include queer parents. When I posted about her last May, I shared some quotes from her about her real life and being part of a two-mom family.

At least two other queer moms, to my knowledge, have won MacArthur Awards. Mary Bonauto, a leading attorney in the fight for marriage equality, won one in 2014, and quantum astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala won one in 2010. That shouldn’t make the rest of us feel bad if we haven’t yet changed the world—sometimes, being a parent is enough in and of itself. Still, I always find it inspiring to know that I have at least one thing in common with these cool folks. I hope they inspire you, too.


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