Tiffany D. Cross is one of the most powerful and fiercest voices of her generation; a fearless young Black woman who’s never been afraid to see the truth and speak it. SAY IT LOUDER! sets fire to the simplistic narratives about race, media, and politics that are crippling our democracy. It’s the call to action we all need now.
Political analyst Cross debuts with a hard-hitting take on how the underrepresentation of black voices and experiences in the mainstream media has impacted American democracy. Drawing on her own experiences as a TV commentator and founder of the news outlet The Beat DC, Cross calls out the “chattering class” of cable news pundits for refusing to label Donald Trump a racist and giving him “close to $2 billion worth of free media attention” during the 2016 campaign, and for being “painfully out of step” with issues that impact black people, such as police brutality, voter suppression, and the water crisis in Flint, Mich. She details episodes of racial violence in American history, including the “Red Summer” of 1919 and the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” crackdown on civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala., and argues that the media’s failure to “cover state-sanctioned violence against Black people with concern, nuance, and consistency” gave Russian operatives a wedge issue to exploit in 2016. Though the book’s various strands—autobiography, history, political commentary, media criticism—sometimes feel mashed together, Cross writes with eloquent rage and makes a convincing case that “empowering and employing” people of color in the media is essential to preserving democracy. This forceful call for change resonates. Agent: Mel Berger, WME. (July)
In this debut, political analyst and media commentator Cross takes on cable news networks, venture capitalism, a century of Russian attempts to influence American politics, and more as she examines the role of Black voters in US politics. Cross shares her experiences as a young aspiring journalist who is forced to drop out of college owing to financial pressures but is able to win jobs, first at a local radio station and, shortly after, at CNN. She later produced a successful daily email newsletter analyzing recent news and politics, leading to regular appearances on cable news shows. Cross provides numerous examples of U.S. political and cultural systems working as they were designed; upholding whiteness and suppressing those who are not white, such as the media's focus on recent Russian influence on Black voters while downplaying American white supremacy's long role in erasing Black voters and their votes—literally, in some cases. Cross writes with entertaining and personable prose, almost as if readers are listening to her speak. She incorporates history extensively into her text, connecting the past to the present while looking ahead to the future. VERDICT Insightful political and cultural analysis highly recommended for all readers.—Monica Howell, Northwestern Health Sciences Univ. Lib., Bloomington, MN
A compelling exploration of how black voters have the power to shape the country's future.
Journalist and political analyst Cross, a resident fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute on Politics, mounts a convincing argument, warmly endorsed by Michael Eric Dyson, that democracy’s future depends on blacks’ participation in civic life. Democracy, she writes, “dies in whiteness,” notably the dominance of whites as reporters, talk show hosts, and news editors in all media—i.e., those who decide what news is disseminated and how issues are framed. In 2000, beginning as an entry-level journalist at CNN, Cross encountered both lack of diversity and hostility among her colleagues, even when she moved to the station’s D.C. location. Her dissatisfaction led her to create the The Beat DC, “a daily news platform at the intersection of politics, policy, and people of color.” By 2017, recruited back to CNN as an on-air analyst, Cross noticed some changes in diversity staffing—although women of color continue to be underrepresented—but not in the assumptions that shaped coverage. Besides recounting her own experiences in journalism (including makeup and hairstyling nightmares for TV appearances), the author discusses an eruption of violent racism following World War I, recent police brutality (the killings of Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and others), voter suppression (purging voters from rolls, redistricting, requiring felons to pay large fees before they can vote), the Georgia governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, and Kamala Harris’ campaign. Throughout, she highlights prevalent racist rhetoric from the GOP and others. “White supremacy,” she writes, “has always been America’s greatest weakness,” and she contends that Russian election interference targeted “toxic race relations” to convince black voters not to go to the polls. Contending that there is no such thing as “the Black vote,” Cross urges readers to become informed and engaged.
An urgent plea for black involvement in the political process, essential in this election year.