For Colored Girls Who Consider Journalism When Twitter Is Not Enough is the title of the first chapter in Tiffany D. Cross’ book entitled Say It Louder: Black Voters, White Narratives and Saving Our Democracy. Tiffany D. Cross is an on-air political analyst with decades of experience in cable news, working for media giants like CNN and BET, as well as creating her own daily newsletter, The Beat DC. But despite the longevity of her career, Cross is careful to convey the challenges of breaking into and remaining in an industry peopled in large part by individuals unlike her in identity and interest. In the book, Cross discusses how black women have suffered the brunt of race and gender inequality and illustrates this through the context of the news media industry, both as creators and consumers. Tiffany gives examples of racial incidents that she suffered as a young recruit paying her dues in various media houses but also shares examples of other black women who have been squeezed out of jobs or relegated to non-prime time slots in favor of their white counterparts. She also describes the demographic composition of influential positions in the media, which favors white males in its leadership, and that reflects those choices filtering down to content and spin. She writes,
“But if, as the Washington Post declares, democracy dies in darkness, it also dies in whiteness. If a free press is to be the guardian of this representative government, then newsrooms should be representative of the country. And they still, blatantly, are not.”
In later chapters, the narrative shifts focus from what happens in newsrooms to the effect on the country’s politics. Cross writes,
Newsrooms are filled with people who, intentionally or not, prioritize issues impacting white people… No one reported on the human experience of Black people. The Black experience was not unpacked with the same narrative afforded to white people.
From listing cases where Black people have suffered as victims of police brutality, to offering details on how 75,000 Black voters were not counted in a swing-state during the 2016 elections, and the propensity of the major news channels to either fail to report or to spin a story to obfuscate the focus, Cross outlines just how destructive these tendencies are to the Black experience.
Over 237 pages, Cross shows how racial inequality and lack of representation propagates through our democracy – what stories gets reported in the media and how community members are portrayed, inform the decisions that voters make to elect lawmakers and ratify policies that will influence every aspect of the administration. Despite being a major contributor to the demographic composition, media continues to represent the Black public as minority and thereby weakens the influence of their vote. Author Tiffany Cross, in sharing her experiences, tells her own story, in language that is at once engaging and intelligent, stimulating but sisterly, with puns and phrases that allude to pop culture but that also demonstrates the range of her talking points where she can just as easily invoke a literary reference as she could say a line made popular by a reality TV star. What Ms. Cross has to say is important, and how she says it will make it easier to listen, even if the truths she shares are hard to hear.
Read this book before you make another comment about something you saw on the news; sometimes there is more to believe than just what you see.
- Title: Say It Louder
- Author: Tiffany D. Cross
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 237
- Publication Date: July, 2020
- Publisher: Amistad / Harper Collins
A breakout media and political analyst delivers a sweeping snapshot of American Democracy and the role that African Americans have played in its shaping while offering concrete information to help harness the electoral power of the country’s rising majority and exposing political forces aligned to subvert and suppress Black voters.
Black voters were critical to the Democrats’ 2018 blue wave. In fact, 90 percent of Black voters supported Democratic House candidates, compared to just 53 percent of all voters. Despite media narratives, this was not a fluke. Throughout U.S. history, Black people have played a crucial role in the shaping of the American experiment. Yet still, this powerful voting bloc is often dismissed as some “amorphous” deviation, argues Tiffany Cross.
Say It Louder! is her explosive examination of how America’s composition was designed to exclude Black voters, but paradoxically would likely cease to exist without them. With multiple tentacles stretching into the cable news echo chamber, campaign leadership, and Black voter data, Cross creates a wrinkle in time with a reflective look at the timeless efforts endlessly attempting to deny people of color the right to vote—a basic tenet of American democracy.
And yet as the demographics of the country are changing, so too is the electoral power construct—by evolution and by force, Cross declares. Grounded in the most-up-to-date research, Say It Louder! is a vital tool for a wide swath of constituencies.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of Say It Louder from Harper Collins Publishers and TLC Book Tours in order to complete this review. I was not otherwise compensated and the above represents my honest and unbiased opinion of the book.