2015 Honoree

Joy-Ann Reid

MSNBC correspondent, political commentator, tv host

…“The best way for women to regain and maintain control over our bodies is to demand it, and to do so by voting in politicians who affirm our rights and liberties, and vigorously voting out those who do not. Full stop.”…

Who inspires you the most?

My family – my husband and my three kids are the people who inspire me the most. They are my greatest inspiration, and are the funniest, most creative, smartest and coolest group of people I know.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty [depending on age] years ago?

I wish that 20 years ago I’d know how much a brownstone would be worth in Brooklyn. I’d have bought one (or two!) As far as what I wish I’d known about myself, it’s that I can’t do everything by myself. It’s OK to ask for help.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough _______.

You can never have enough love and compassion, flowing in or flowing out to others.

What City best describes your personality?

The city that best describes me is London: it’s eclectic and modern, yet old fashioned, with a reverence for history. It’s upscale and casual at the same time, and it’s thoroughly, brilliantly haunted by a myriad of fascinating ghosts.

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

What gets me through the toughest days? My family and friends. They’re also what I’m most grateful for.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

When it comes to women’s issues, I care most about three things: women’s personal liberty and the ability to control our own bodies and reproduction; equal access to education for girls, and the right of women to reach their potential without discrimination. These things boil down to a single idea: equality. As someone who works in the media, I can attest that women are still not covered fairly. Issues of appearance, dress and hair still seep into the coverage, and strong women face the subtle bigotry and malign of being depicted as somehow sinister, unfeminine or subversive. This is particularly true for women of color, and it doesn’t help that there aren’t nearly enough of us deciding how that coverage will be done.

Although there is supposed to be a separation between Church & State, religion still seems to govern many political decisions regarding women – abortions, birth control, etc. –usually from men. What is the best approach to shift power over women’s bodies to women?

The best way for women to regain and maintain control over our bodies is to demand it, and to do so by voting in politicians who affirm our rights and liberties, and vigorously voting out those who do not. Full stop.

What is your best read? Favorite character you would most like to be?

I love Toni Morrison; her mastery of words, and her gorgeous use of them to paint vivid mental pictures of the scenes and characters in her work. She’s my favorite fiction writer ever, and was among my inspirations as a young girl who wanted to write for a living. However the fictional character I would most like to be is not from one of Morrison’s books: it’s Black Widow from the Marvel universe. Because, well, she’s just badass and I need to be able to kick like that.

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men? Are sexist jokes problematic, and how do you feel about people’s view that women should just “lighten up” about them?

I think what it will take for women to be viewed as equal to men will be a generation of boys who are raised by women who insist that they understand that basic truth. We’re getting there, and Millennials are headed in the right direction on that score. Regarding sexist jokes, I think they’re fine in a comedy routine; not at all acceptable in the workplace or other public/professional spaces. Just don’t even try it, gentlemen.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

My best decision, over the course of my adult life, was to take chances. It’s never served me poorly. My worst decision? That’s a tough one, but I’m pretty sure it’s financial.

Within the past few years, social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

Women should not be shy about using social media to promote their brand. Go for it. Tell the world who you are and what you’re capable of. Just make sure that what you’re pitching is what you’re actually prepared to deliver. I can’t even hate on selfies if they serve the purpose of building your brand. Just don’t take them at solemn places where you should be gazing at what’s around you, not at the reflection in your cell phone.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie.

Show up and make the ask; you just might be pleasantly surprised, and if you’re not, show up again tomorrow.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

If I was a superhero, my superpower would be the ability to divide myself into multiple me’s, so that I could be in more than one place at a time. I’d get so much more done!

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