Not long ago, a woman coaching client, who was trying to find a vision for herself for the next stage of her life, explained that she could not come up with any women who were role models to inspire her. She was looking for a public figure. She asked me to name some women—and it took me a long time to name only a few. I have been on the lookout ever since for inspiring women in public life, and I find Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC to be one of them. I have been impressed with Reid for some time in her role as an anchor on MSNBC because of her knowledge, intelligence, and no-nonsense interviewing style. But she really got my attention when I recently watched her regular Saturday morning show, AM Joy, on MSNBC and witnessed how she handled a powerful man who was trying to bully her. Reid, the daughter of immigrant parents from British Guiana and the Democratic Republic of Congo, was interviewing a pastor, who was also African American, about President Trump’s disparaging remarks about Haitian and African immigrants. The pastor, a Trump supporter, refused to acknowledge Trump’s use of vulgar language in reference to these countries, rudely interrupted Reid, and talked over her when she tried to engage him. My jaw dropped when she told him his rudeness was unacceptable and he was wasting her time. He shot back with an insult. She stayed calm, looked into the camera, said “goodbye” to the pastor, and called for an unscheduled break from the interview. When she came back on the air, the pastor was gone. I loved seeing a woman refuse to be bullied. She is a truly inspiring, strong black woman. I was previously unaware of Reid’s background until reading an article in the New York Times by Laura M. Holson. Holson explains that after Reid graduated from Harvard, where she studied documentary filmmaking, she became interested in politics and worked for various news organizations in radio and print, where many of her stories focused on race in America. She investigated voter suppression, the burning of black churches in the South, and a modern-day lynching. She also published a highly acclaimed book in 2015 entitled Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide, and she teaches a class at Syracuse University on race, gender, and the media. Her current show, AM Joy, focuses on race, gender, and culture—and she never takes her eyes off of the investigation into Russian meddling in our elections. Reid has developed a large following on social media with fans who call themselves #reiders. Rachel Maddow, another award-winning MSNBC anchor, takes every opportunity to sing Reid’s praises and provides us with a role model for women supporting women. These women are smart and talented journalists, scholars, and role models, and I highly recommend checking them out. Photo by Phil Roeder (CC BY 2.0)]]>
We all need role models—people who inspire us and provide us with examples of how to live and be. These can be invisible mentors whom we never meet and only read about. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice, is this kind of role model for me. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG) is eighty-two years old and, as Gail Collins of the New York Times reports, she loves her work and, in spite of tremendous public pressure to retire, has no intention of “going anywhere any time soon.” I am not the only one who admires her for a determination to live her life on her own terms rather than succumb to social pressure to conform (and retire). She has developed a huge fan base, particularly among young women, complete with a blog and upcoming book about her entitled The Notorious RBG (a play on the name of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.). Let me count the ways that RBG inspires me:
- She is a pioneer and the first woman to do many of the things she did in her life.
- She lives her life on her own terms.
- She is physically fierce and works out at the gym with a trainer two times a week, along with daily stretches.
- She writes ferocious dissents against conservative decisions and is the leader of the Supreme Court’s dissident liberals.
- She is a survivor of colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, and heart disease.
- She has an overall energy level that is inspiring. For example, she explained to MSNBC’s Irin Carmon in an interview that the reason she dozed off during President Obama’s State of the Union address in January 2015 was that she had been up all night the night before writing an opinion. “My pen was hot,” she said by way of explanation.