Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 19: MSNBC presents the first part of an exciting new special, Culture is. Oprah Daily has an exclusive clip from the inaugural episode, titled The culture is: black womenwhich features a conversation between black women hosted by MSNBC hosts Tiffany Cross, The cross connection, and Joy Reid, of The ReidOutwho both produced the special, as well as an interview between Reid and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Cross and Reid take us behind the scenes of this new project, which has its roots in deep friendships and the sense of community that comes from sharing a meal together. In 2021, Cross, Reid and a host of other successful black women, including Sunny Hostin and Alicia Garza, were taking a girls’ trip together. This group of women came together because we had formed, over a text thread, a bond to get through the pandemic and the end of the Trump era, Reid says. We were just there to support each other. But they all quickly became true friends who vacationed together. It was our time to relax, decompress and have very raw, real, comfortable and authentic conversations with each other, Cross says.
We had these moments to celebrate each of these women. Joy Reid
After their return, the women reunited post instagram photos of the trip at the same time, prompting an avalanche of positive comments. Everyone thought the trip was part of an organized gathering and wanted to participate. We thought we should expand that conversation and that table to other people, says Cross.
Some of the best parts of this trip were our dinners, where we just sat around and listened to each other’s stories, Reid says. I thought if we were going to have an event about brotherhood, why not try to recreate that magic of being around a table together? Everyone involved in the creative process agreed. This is where women share their experiences, says Cross. We come together over food, and it’s part of our fellowship.
From there, Cross and Reid took the idea to MSNBC. Rashida Jones, the first black woman to serve as president of MSNBC, loved the concept of the projects. They were then tasked with determining who should be part of those conversations. I’m happy to say we had an embarrassment of riches, reveals Cross. They wanted a wide range of women from a variety of industries: entertainment, sports, military, journalism, etc. There is such rich diversity within our own communities. Black women are not a monolith; weren’t homogeneous in our way of thinking, says Cross. Reid agrees: It’s impossible to have a conversation about the lived experiences of black women without having such a wide range of voices.
This perimeter is certainly represented. Cross and Reid have compiled a roster of notable women, including Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, Tarana Burke, Nikole Hannah-Jones, and Robin Thede, among others. They talked about the delicious food prepared by chef Melba Wilson at Minton’s Playhouse, a historic Harlem speakeasy that Reid chose because she’s a bit obsessed with the flapper era.
Former ESPN sports commentator Maria Taylor was also in attendance and spoke for the first time about her departure from the network. Taylor left ESPN in 2021 after a white colleague publicly suggested that Taylor was promoted solely because she was black. What happened is emblematic of what happens to so many black women in these corporate spaces, Reid says. We all face those moments of insensitivity and slights to your presence and qualifications that are based solely on how, unfortunately, much of our culture thinks of black people and black women. Watch Taylor tell the story in our exclusive clip above.
Despite the coverage of these more serious topics, the conversation was not lacking in joy and laughter. Seeing people’s interactions, just having fun and having fun, was my favorite thing, says Reid. This included the hilarity between Thede, creator of HBO Maxs A dark lady sketch showand NBC star Ryan Michelle Bathe The end gamewhile celebrating the achievements of Hannah Jones Project 1619. We had these moments to celebrate each of these women and their accomplishments and to just lift them up, says Reid.
Black women are not a monolith; were not homogeneous in our thinking. Tiffany Cross
This extends to what Cross and Reid hope audiences will remember watching. The culture is: black women. We want the women watching to feel uplifted, Reid says. There is a story at this table for every woman. Cross and Reid are excited to see what their counterparts do for the following specials, each of which will focus on a different group of women of color. Justina Machado will host the next episode, The culture is: Latin women, airing this summer. After that, MSNBC’s Katie Phang will moderate Culture is: AAPI Womenand NBC News Alyssa London will host The culture is: Indigenous womenboth of which will air later in the summer of 2022.
The country’s growing majority is left out of the conversation, Cross says. that’s why Culture is is an important and necessary project: it highlights the often marginalized experiences of these women. It’s letting them speak to themselves and for themselves, but also to America as a whole.
Knowing that they speak to the country is also not a role that Cross and Reid take lightly. It’s just an honor, a privilege and really a responsibility that we took very seriously, says Cross. It was divine how we were all able to come together, it was just a perfect table.
The culture is: black women airs Sunday, June 19 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC. It will also be available to stream on Peacock.
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