Angela Rye discusses the representation of Black women in the media

This episode of Verizon's Next 20 Series examines the triumphs and setbacks experienced by Black women in the workplace and society.

Video Transcript

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: There was actually an article in "The Root" and the headline was, you know, Stacey Abrams is not your superhero or mule or god, right? And it's like, yeah. Do you think-- why do you think that's important to impress upon people?

ANGELA RYE: Well, a couple of things. One is Stacey herself will say she doesn't work in isolation. Stacey herself will talk about the number of Black women, Black people, and allies who galvanized right along with her to ensure that Georgians knew the power of their vote. And she's been working on it for more than a decade.

So I've got to believe also that part of what Stacey has experienced is this frustration. Like, now you all see it? Like, it cost me the governorship.

And I think the other part of it is to humanize her because so often Black people are put in roles where we're either superhuman or we're subhuman, but it's never, like, just that even-keeled humanity that you see in everyone else. So she's not allowed to have flaws. You know, people want to talk about hair textures and appearance and all of these-- whether or not she's married and all of these other things.

And it's like she's done a tremendous amount of work and built a tremendous number of coalitions. And instead of us applauding that along the way, it took something that was almost miraculous for people to understand the power of who she is and what she represents. I feel like that's a whole book or a think piece, but there's so much there that's not only worth discussing but it's worth holding the country accountable for.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: Kamala is another figure who people like to call a deity, like to call her a god. And then on the flip side, it's the complete opposite. It's much worse. For you, what are you looking for in terms of how the media treats Kamala during her vice presidency?

ANGELA RYE: That they would realize that the vice presidency is more than just Joe Biden's right hand. There's a lot of stories out now-- there are a lot of stories out now that are always talking about and Kamala's standing right by Joe, you know, as if it's a stand by her man kind of a narrative instead of, you know, what did she do to help to ensure that executive order had the support that it needed in community? It's not talking about the critical role that she's playing in the Senate being the tie-breaking vote every time there is an issue that comes down to the wire like that.

The fact that Kamala not only has a robust legislative career but it is an incredible attorney with a mind of a strategist and a brilliant political organizer that Joe Biden needs to rely upon because some of the ways that he's worked historically are a little dated in model.

There was a time, right, in the Senate where the left and the right did work more closely together. That hasn't been Kamala's testimony, not since she's been there, right? She came in the year of Trump in 2016 where things couldn't be more divisive. So his political skill and ability to maneuver has to be informed by that newer way that the Senate moves.

So again, I think that she's more than just his right hand. She's someone who has and will continue to grow a robust portfolio in this administration. She has a very capable staff, all of whom have a tremendous amount of experience-- most of whom have a tremendous amount of experience and I think will help her succeed not just in these first four years but who knows what's to come in the next four.

BRITTANY JONES-COOPER: What has your experience been? Do you feel like you have hit unnecessary roadblocks because of your race?

ANGELA RYE: Oh yeah. And it's so funny because we talk-- when you think about Black women, the intersection of what it means to be a Black woman. There were years where I was like I've experienced racism more than I've experienced sexism. And then when I got older and a little more mature I'm like, I actually don't know that I can make that distinction. I don't really know that to be the case.

And what I can say now is that, you know, in most of the rooms where I sit at consultant tables, I'm still the youngest on firm. I'm 41. That's not young. And I am the only woman in many instances and definitely the only Black person-- definitely. There are times where, you know, there are other consultants who will hire Black people on their team, but they're not a Black-owned firm.

And the thing that I've stretched them to do in every instance is I don't have to be the only Black firm. I did not come through a door to close it behind me. I don't need to be the only woman on firm. You know, I don't need to be the only person of color at the table. Here are some recommendations. And if those recommendations or my desire to expand that table results in me not being there but two other people come, that's what was supposed to happen. I believe that my role in life is to make things easier for those who will come alongside me or come up behind me.