Dear Culture

Onward and Upward: Reflecting on 2021

Episode 96

Read the full transcript here. 

Dear Culture, We Made It! A brand new year is just ahead and this week on the Dear Culture Podcast our hosts, theGrio Managing Editor of Politics and Washington Correspondent Gerren Keith Gaynor and theGrio Social Media Director Shana Pinnock, reflect on all the ups and downs that shaped and shook the culture in 2021 and look ahead to 2022.

For Gaynor, who moved to Washington D.C. mid-year to cover theGrio’s politics beat, 2021 was all about stepping into himself fully and getting even more clarity about the kind of life and career he hopes to create for himself. Moving away from his hometown of New York City meant working alongside one the country’s most respected political correspondents and theGrio’s Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, April Ryan.

April Ryan
April Ryan speaks onstage at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on June 30, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2017 ESSENCE Festival )

“I’ve learned so much from April as a journalist, and I can now call her not just a mentor, but a friend in leading the politics team here in the D.C. bureau. I got to go to the White House and now I’m a member of the White House Correspondents Association, and I just feel like everything on the career end has been upgraded,” said Gaynor.

“For me, it means a lot because being a Black queer boy growing up in Brooklyn, I didn’t really dream a lot. I didn’t have big dreams. I think it had a lot to do with just not loving myself. 2021 was the year I just allowed myself to just be and not care as much about what people think of me and not be so hard on myself and more importantly, I believe in myself and I bet on myself, and now I’m reaping the benefits of betting on myself.” 

Turns out Gaynor wasn’t the only Dear Culture host experience growth and movement this year. This year our podcast family tuned in as Pinnock documented her journey of moving back to her beloved Atlanta, supporting her family through health scares and celebrated in her joy as she shared about her new love. 

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta skyline sits beyond Turner Field before the start of the New York Mets versus Atlanta Braves during the Braves home season opening game at Turner Field April 6, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

“I am so grateful to actually know that love and a nontoxic love exists and that one that is, you know, constant work but it doesn’t feel like work because we are consistently making sure that we’re working for one another,” said Pinnock. “You know, who knows if this will go the distance? Who knows if this is my, you know, future husband or anything like that, we’ll see, but I am incredibly grateful like it is.”

Also keeping Pinnock and Gaynor busy this year were the headlines that left our homepage and social media timelines in shambles. The hosts reflected on theGrio exclusives including Gaynor’s sit down with Rep. Maxine Waters and the never-ending culture defining moments we couldn’t stop talking about like DaBaby’s foolishness at Rolling Loud, The Gorilla Glue Girl saga and Nicki Minaj’s vaccine comments supported by a now infamous tale about her cousin’s friend in Trinidad. 

Hard to believe that all happened in just months, but it did, and the Dear Culture podcast was there to witness, recap and make sense of all things Black culture. We’ll keep doing the same in 2022 and beyond and we look forward to meeting you there. 

Happy New Year’s Fam! 

Tune in the Dear Culture Podcast to hear our full 2021 recap and to revisit some our favorite moments from this year’s show. 

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