Black Commentators: Obama’s Press Office is Too White

Feb 11, 2009 1:32pm

There’s a factually inaccurate meme developing out there amongst some African-American commentators.

In Richard Prince’s Maynard Institute column, the commentator says: "There are no African Americans assigned so far to President Obama’s press office."

Um … yes there are.

There’s deputy press secretary Bill Burton, for one.

Plus director of African American media Corey Ealons.

More widely, on the communications staff writ large, there’s director of message events Daniella Gibbs Leger, who is African-American. And on the regional communications desk, there’s Gannett Tseggai.

CNN’s Roland Martin writes that "it’s quite telling to see the lack of diversity in the White House’s press office. I got an e-mail Tuesday listing all of the various press folks and contact information, and hardly any African-Americans or Hispanics were listed. Granted, the deputy press secretary is African-American and the director of broadcast media is Hispanic. That’s not sufficient."

Right, well, how about if in addition to director of broadcast media Dag Vega, referenced above, one were to add the other African Americans? Or the other Hispanics — such as deputy director of message events Joelle Terry, director of Hispanic media Luis Miranda, deputy director of research Margaret Olmos, or researcher David Gomez?

And what about Asian-Americans? Do they not count? There’s special assistant to the press secretary Marissa Hopkins, press assistant Priya Singh, deputy director of communications Jason Djang, and director of specialty media Shin Inouye?

I realize I’m Caucasian, and thus it’s sensitive for me to even address this, but let’s just say this meme has been noticed by those on the White House press and communications staff who aren’t white, and who think this charge is not just inaccurate, it’s insulting.

– jpt

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