In the age of the Gaslight Gatekeeper Girl Boss, there are many negative beliefs about women in the workplace: Women are too cowardly. Women are always in competition with each other. These ideas have become authoritative for women of color—but especially for black women.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid The ReidOut and Tiffany Cross from The cross connection, plan to dispel these misunderstandings by not necessarily granting a seat at the table, but by allowing outsiders a chance to overhear the conversation. Sunday, June 19: MSNBC is releasing the first part of a much-needed new special, The culture is. As host and executive producers, Reid and Cross will moderate a conversation between Cross and Reid has assembled a notable group of women including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, #MeToo movement creator Tarana Burke, Project 1619 creator Nikole Hannah-Jones , and Robin Thede. among other. Former ESPN sports reporter Maria Taylor was also on the guest list. There she will speak for the first time about leaving the network after a leaked recording by a white colleague suggested that race was a driving factor in selection for high-profile broadcast jobs.
The hour-long event will be held at Minton’s Playhouse in Harlem’s historic Cecil Hotel and will be prepared by renowned Harlem chef Melba Wilson. Reid’s exclusive interview with Vice President Kamala Harris in Mississippi will be included.
The culture is emerged from a girls’ trip to Cabo in 2021 that included a star-studded sister circle to die for The viewSunny Hostin, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, political strategist Brittany Packnett Cunningham, organizer LaTosha Brown and journalist Jemele Hill to name a few. The trip should only serve as a fresh start from the pandemic and celebrate the end of the Trump era. But photos capturing the getaway went viral.
“Many women asked, ‘What conference is this? Which organization? But it was just our girl group.” Cross told ESSENCE. “And we thought, how can we expand on some of the conversations we had on the trip? And how can we extend this very warm, nurturing environment of sisterhood to some of our fellow sisters across the country?”
The two tossed around ideas about a documentary, a special, or even a multi-platform initiative. Ultimately, Reid came up with the concept of simply recreating the vibes the women felt on the trip by throwing a dinner party. “Because there are stories told at dinner,” Reid told ESSENCE.
So how does an intimate luxury black journey become a four-part roundtable series for Black, Indigenous, Latino and Asian women? It’s simple: “None of us is free until we are all free,” as Fannie Lou Hamer said. Or, as Cross puts it, she took a Fred Hampton approach. “There is strength in solidarity,” Cross said. “We must reach out to other communities because together we are the global majority and the rising majority here in America.”
By expanding the series as a roundtable for diverse groups of women of color, the platform gives guests the opportunity to speak openly in a safe space. “It was important to me that each community of color had the same conversation. As Americans, we should all have a certain intellectual curiosity about our countrymen.”
In the thought-provoking dialogue, Reid and Cross will facilitate an honest and lively conversation about what it means to be a black woman in America. Only Black women know the camaraderie among themselves. Often black women are pitted against each other due to the understanding that there is only room for one black woman at a time. For both women it was just the opposite. For Reid, in her experience, black women are always in the spotlight. She cites her friendship with journalist Tamron Hall as evidence.
“Tamron Hall kicked down doors for me,” Reid tells ESSENCE. “When we started out as these two black women — dark-skinned black women with short hair — she could have been like, ‘Oh, she’s a duplicate. Let me go.” No! She said, ‘Come in, occupy this space, be in this space.’”
Reid pays the same support whenever she can. She said she was most proud of the other black people she brought with her. “As soon as that door is open, I’ll break it down and drag as many black people as possible after me. Because I think that we are so successful. True group success is real success.”
Cross shared that her friendship with Reid is evidence of those actions. Cross called Reid her biggest supporter for joining MSNBC, stating that if it wasn’t Reid, she wouldn’t have her show.
Cross also cited her friendship with journalist Angela Rye as a reference for black women supporting black women. Nothing is good enough for Cross in Rye’s eyes. “I tell her Angela, ‘You’re going to pay me $100 million,’ she’s going to say, ‘What? They should pay you $200 million.’”
It took a lot of back and forth for the two executive producers to land on the title. The culture is. The notion of preserving and claiming “culture” has grown in recent years, particularly as Black American culture and its influence—whether recognized or not—has taken over the role of mainstream American identity.
“I said ‘The culture is black women’ because we’re the mother. We create. We are the engine,” said Cross. “The magic that happens when black women gather — the same is true of other communities.”
Culture as a form of capital and definition of American identity is nothing new. Reid attributes much of the fighting within the country to culture. “It’s not about politics, it’s about culture. And the point is that the future of culture – America’s culture – was largely shaped by non-Europeans. That numerically the future of the population does not know.”
Different ethnic groups are changing the dynamics of what America is and what it looks like. In 2020, Latinos surpassed the black community with the largest number of eligible voters at 32 million. The fastest growing demographic in this country are Asian Americans. In 20 years, the Asian population in the US grew 81 percent, from about 10.5 million to a record 18.9 million, Pew Research reported. And contrary to popular belief, the indigenous community is growing. By 2050, the indigenous population is expected to increase by more than 3 million.
“We both agreed that the show doesn’t have to be about politics,” Reid said. “It had to be about culture, and the future of culture is black women; is Latina; is indigenous women; and is asian women. It’s easy.”
The culture is: Latinathe second part of the series that will debut later this summer on the same network, hosted by Justina Machado, star of Netflix One day at a time. Katie Phang, host of MSNBC The Katie Phang Show, host of The Culture Is: AAPI Women. Former Miss Alaska USA and Miss USA finalist and host of The culture stories Series will host Alyssa London The culture is: Indigenous women.