There are times when you’re watching TV and someone makes you so proud to be black that you feel a certain kinship. I actually don’t know what “kinship” means, so hold on while I look it up.
OK. It just means a “blood relationship.” That explains why, even though we know that Angela Rye’s job as a CNN political commentator is to appear on television, we still get excited every time we see her on TV. Rye is black America’s cousin. The smart one who went to college and got straight A’s. You know we love seeing our cousin on TV.
The Root 100 honoree pulled a “reverse Kanye” on CNN Monday when, instead of Yeezy’s “Imma let you finish, but ... ,” Rye refused to be interrupted by Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen. Rye, the former executive director and general counsel for the Congressional Black Caucus, was busy pulling out receipts showing that four of the six recent congressional ethics investigations have been against black members of Congress. “Are you going to tell me that black members are more unethical than white members?” Rye asked. “I would tell you no.”
Apparently unaware of the fact that you do not interrupt a black woman when she’s talking, Rosen attempted to interrupt Rye to explain how accusing Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) of sexually harassing two women is totally different from accusing Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) of making inappropriate sexual advances toward four women.
“I am not finished!” Rye reminded Rosen. Rye went on to explain that the Democratic Party’s leadership should be held accountable for throwing its black members under the bus: “I’m not saying these women are wrong. But what I am saying is that the Democratic Party needs to take a hard look in the mirror and treat these situations fairly.”
Rye is basically the cousin we call when we’re engaged in any heated debate. If I were in a barbershop right now arguing about something and said, “Let me call Angela Rye,” everyone would accept her decision as final.
“There is a need to hear our voices,” Rye told The Root in an exclusive interview. “We [black people] aren’t booked on television and news shows. So I feel a responsibility to go hard in the paint whenever I get the opportunity to talk about certain issues.”
In explaining why she is so impassioned every time we see her, Rye revealed that she watches television and listens to radio talk shows the way we all do:
You know how you’re watching a news show and there’s always one person talking out the side of their neck? I know there are a lot of people like me who argue with the television or radio even though we know the people can’t hear us. That’s what I try to do when I’m actually in front of a camera. I want to represent us. I want to make sure our voices are heard exactly like we’d say it if we were there.
Rye credits her ability to pull receipts to growing up in a home with a family who debated politics, culture, social issues and everything under the sun. She would often listen to her father call radio shows and break down any subject for the audience. “He has a much better memory than I do,” she said. “He could recall dates, locations and everything. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I don’t drink enough ginkgo biloba.”
Just like our cousin, downplaying her smarts. I bet she even still remembers how to do long division. Probably algebra, too. Strike that—no one is that smart—but I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew what a binomial equation is. That’s exactly why we chose her to host The Root 100 this year.
But even the dudes waiting to get a low Caesar at Dope Cutz would know not to interrupt her.
Trust me, she’s not finished.
Watch Rye at this year’s The Root 100 gala: