In an interview with the black website TheRoot, incoming MSNBC host Joy Reid repeated the usual network mantra that “Everyone at MSNBC has a different, unique perspective," and she hopes her new 2pm Eastern show will be a “table-setter for prime time.” Translation: whatever "War on Women" or Bridgegate segment I’m doing at 2 will be repeated at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.....by one "unique perspective" after another.
Reid claimed to lament a political climate that she says has "just become really nasty" and made civilized disagreements few and far between. It's thanks in part to what she calls a "very virulent strain that is sort of in the underbelly of society." It’s racism, or the right wing’s horrid tendency to counter-accuse MSNBC of racism, like the accusation is a weapon:
Related to that underbelly is another pet peeve of the soon-to-be-host: "There's this new thing where people on the right revel in calling anyone black racist who mentions race. It's like a weapon that they've attempted to take away from black people, and they call black people racist all the time for things that definitionally don't even make sense."
"It's hard not to view things as a black person. For African Americans, your racial identity is something that affects the way your life is lived out," she explains. "The Democrats used to be the Republicans, and if they were to go back, I wouldn't be there with them. The Democratic Party in this iteration is more welcoming ideologically to me, but these parties change."
A first-generation American with a father from the Congo and mother from Guyana, Reid says she was raised in a family that was not only hyper-engaged politically ("My mom taught us the importance of voting every time, from city council to the dog catcher,” she recalls), but also tended to see America from an outsider's perspective. "My mother's critique was very much an immigrant critique of the country—she viewed America in sort of an idyllic way, and then didn't find it to be that way," she says. Along with that critical take on politics and culture, she says her mom bestowed upon her something even more valuable for a pundit-in-the-making: plenty of encouragement to express herself. And that, she did.
Jenee Desmond-Harris at The Root never mentioned Reid's experience in communicating for the Obama 2008 campaign in Florida, but did cite her as a great authority on the Trayvon Martin case:
Today's MSNBC viewers will remember her as an authoritative voice on the death of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman, weaving legal updates with analysis of psychological impact through the trial and immediately after the controversial verdict. But this subject matter wasn't new territory for Reid. As long ago as 2009, she challenged readers of her Salon column to an "Open Dialogue on Race," asking them to debate her hypothesis that "white men on the right are feeling marginalized in the age of Obama."
More recently, in her "What we learned in 2013" roundup for the Miami Herald, she wrote, "We also discovered that the great unresolved conundrum of American history—that of race—remains toxic and potent in American life" and scoffed at what she called "the enforcers of American perfectionism, who demand that the veil never be lifted on our nation's racial divide."