Tuesday, August 4, 2015

More on the Mayor's Message Manager

Desiree Peterkin Bell, Mayor Nutter's 33-year old communications director, is featured in a new book about the changing nature of race relations in America.

More on the Mayor's Message Manager

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My regular column today features Mayor Nutter's 33-year-old director of communications, Desiree Peterkin Bell.

She's an interesting, low-profile Nutter aide whose resume includes four years working for Mayor Bloomberg in New York and four more working for Mayor Cory Booker in Newark.

Struck me as an impressive resume for one so young. I'm not alone in this thought.

Peterkin Bell is also featured in a new book, "The End of Anger," by Ellis Cose (HarperCollins, 2011) that examines the nature of race in America in the post-Obama age.

The book interviews her as a graduate of A Better Chance, a long-time national program that offers excellence in education to young (6th grade through 12th grade) people of color.

A Brooklyn native, she attended Strath Haven High School in Wallingford, Delaware County, then Swarthmore, then got a master's at Baruch College.

The Cose book highlights her educational, athletic (she was a multiple All-American in track and field at Swarthmore) and professional accomplishments and refers to her as "typical of the new breed of young blacks."

She's quoted in the book as follows: "This whole idea of the post-racial, I really don't subscribe to that at all. I don't believe that things have become so sanitized and homogenized that you really can't tell the difference between certain issues, certain candidates, and certain people."

But, writes Cose, she also sees limitless opportunity for herself and her peers.

"We're always testing the boundaries. . . we don't subscribe to the glass ceiling theory. . . you no longer think, `I'm not even going to try because I can't reach there'. . . you just say, `What makes sense? Let's try it. If that doesn't work, OK, let's try another angle'. . . We don't subscribe [to the idea] here's a limit, a box, that. . . because I'm a 32-year-old African-American, Panamanian woman, these are the things I can only do.

"I'm not an idiot. So I know that there are things that exist out there. Racism exists. Sexism exists. . . I do believe that. But I'm not going to settle for those isms. I'm not going to let those people and those issues define my trajectory."

I wrote about her today in the column, and I mention her mention in the Cose book because I doubt we've heard the last of her.

Daily News Political Columnist
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About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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