After spending more than 20 years as a political journalist, Ohio-born and Atlanta raised Tiffany D. Cross will now conquer the publishing world with her debut book Say It Louder. Cross, the co-founder and former managing editor of The Beat DC, has gained a large following over the years since appearing on various cable news shows as a commentator, which has undoubtedly set the stage for her guest-hosting debut on AM Joy this weekend.
Cross, a Resident Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics (Spring 2020), recently sat down to discuss her new book with ESSENCE and the upcoming election.
ESSENCE: What are you covering in your book?
*Tiffany D. Cross: It’s about police brutality and unrest, the feminism movement, silencing Black women, the Kamala Harris campaign and the presidential election. And remember, I wrote this pre-George Floyd, pre-Ahmaud Arbery. I was writing this a year and a half ago. So it just so happened that the release of my book and the news cycle were running parallel, surprisingly, sadly and fortunately. Sadly because it’s awful that we’re here, but fortunate because this book was a love letter to Black people as the superheroes we are and have always been in this country.
ESSENCE: You just mentioned Kamala Harris, do you think she got the support she needed from the Black community?
Cross: I can’t say. I think Black voters have to decide for themselves who speaks to them. I don’t think Black people are obligated to support any candidate. And I think it’s a candidate’s responsibility to make their case to the community. And we’re not a homogenous group. People can make that choice for themselves. What I will say is that because the media controls so much of what the masses know and understand about politics, I don’t think the coverage on the Harris campaign was always fair. And I think that comes from the infrastructure of the business, the way it’s set up, but also from people not understanding the plight of Black women.
I write about in the book there was a Washington Post reporter who was covering an event where AKAs were in attendance. And of course, they Skee-wee’d when she came out, and the reporter had no idea. He’s like, I didn’t expect to hear shrieking here. And people had to explain to her what was happening.
It highlighted how we have to understand everything about white America, but they don’t have to understand our world. And it’s excused and tolerated and it’s fine because in their eyes, we’re the other. And we don’t have that luxury. And so I think a lot of that impacted Senator Harris’s campaign when the media elevated her initially and the obligatory comparisons to Obama after her campaign launch. And then after that, it was hit piece after hit piece. And so you have a white-run media that’s creating this narrative that is influencing a predominantly white male donor class when it comes to investing in these campaigns. And that’s not to say that she didn’t run a flawed campaign, because I believe there were some areas where she fell short. But that makes her no different from the 44 white men who have gotten to be president.
ESSENCE: And now the talk is Biden picking a woman of color for his VP pick. Who do you think he should pick?
Cross: Well, I obviously can’t endorse a VP pick, but I do think it should be a Black woman. I don’t know if you know, but I penned an op-ed for The Post with a group of other Black women in media. So it was me, Brittany Packnett, Angela Rye, Sunny Hostin, Amanda Seales and Alicia Garza. And our point in that op-ed was, help us help you. We are trying to usher you over this finish line. And when Black women organize, we don’t just organize ourselves. We organize the community. And the truth of the matter is that Joe Biden is not an exciting candidate. So he alone does not excite the base who he needs to motivate. And I think it’s a misunderstanding at times from people in his campaign who assume because he was Obama’s second in command that it guarantees him the Black vote. And even considering everything happening right now, even considering trying to unseat a white supremacist, I would leave nothing to chance because Black voters who resurrected this campaign are facing an unholy trinity of things that will suppress their vote come November.
ESSENCE: So one thing you’re venturing into soon, is guest hosting AM Joy this weekend. How did that come about?
Cross: So I appear regularly on AM Joy and I’m very connected with her audience and they’re very connected with me. I appear on the network frequently. I feel like the “Reiders,” [Joy Reid’s] audience, they’re like family to me. I’m in constant contact with them on Twitter, DM. They email my website. And she has built an incredible platform of over a million viewers who tune in for content that they are not getting anywhere else. And so because I have a journalism background and a campaign background just like Joy and she works really hard, it was a perfect time for me to step in and bring some of what I brought to my news platform, in terms of highlighting the intersection of politics, policy and people of color. And I’m very excited about the opportunity.
ESSENCE: Do you think this is something that could turn into a full-time spot?
Cross: Joy and I both have a political journalism background so I really appreciate what she has done with the show. She has built an amazing base of loyal viewers and I am fortunate enough to have connected with those viewers over the past couple of years. Joy will leave big shoes to fill for sure and I hope whomever the executives tap to take over has a strong connection with the audience, a passion for journalism, and a commitment to highlighting issues that impact communities of color.
ESSENCE: What is the biggest takeaway you want readers to have from your book?
Cross: Well, I think just recognizing the power and influence that both Black voters and the media have and the latter has, at times, aided in the suppression of the former. And so I would challenge people. While it was a love letter to Black people, I didn’t write it exclusively for Black people. I hope everyone will read it at this time when there’s a lot of curiosity about the Black American experience. And I would challenge people to name a time in this country that Black people have not disproportionately upheld this democracy. Name a war Black people didn’t fight in. Name any part of the economy that Black people didn’t contribute to, the wealth we created for this country, and have never benefit from.
Tiffany D. Cross’s book Say It Louder will be released on July 6, 2020.
*The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.