top of page

"At Mama's Knee: Mother's and Race in Black and White" by April Ryan

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

AUTHOR: April Ryan

PUBLISHED DATE: December 15, 2016

ISBN: 9781442265639

PAGES: 180

If you've been paying any attention at all to the news - you have heard of April Ryan. She is a White House correspondent on the front lines of an unprecedented presidential administration. She has been on the receiving end of highly controversial encounters from...

Sean Spicer:

Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Omarosa Manigault:

The Donald:

In each encounter Ryan has handled herself with professionalism, poise, and grace. I follow her on Twitter where she'd tweeted about a book she'd written. When I saw it available on my library Hoopla, it was a no-brainer that I had to read it.

Ryan describes her humble roots growing up in Baltimore, her loving mother - now deceased, who gave her a solid foundation, her supportive family who helped her as a single mother raising two daughters, issues she feels is contributing to poor conditions in the African American community and the need for more discipline in African American youth, and the use of the "N-Word".

Though I didn't agree with everything Ryan had to say, I did find this book to be inspiring, thoughtful, and a worthwhile read. I agree with Ryan that both black and white people need to cancel the use of the word nigger. Ryan references Obama's last White House Correspondent's dinner where Larry Wilmore calls President Obama the derogatory term. Check out a discussion with Reverend Al Sharpton and Larry Wilmore here:

There is still a great deal of racial trauma that black people have experienced and are experiencing. While I'm not a proponent of censorship - I think we can agree that this is a destructive and divisive word, and to use it as the final word to permanently mark our first African American president at his final White House Correspondents dinner is in incredibly poor taste. I don't find any humor in it, and neither did most African Americans in attendance of the dinner.

Ryan also discusses the Baltimore "Mom of the Year" who beat her son on camera during the riots:

Now...a lot of people think beating their kids, and yelling profanity at their kids will deter them from a life of crime. I wholeheartedly disagree. All my life I have heard people say that if you don't beat your kids, they'll grow up to be criminals. The only thing, is that I have never seen this to be true. There are libraries full of books that coach parents against beating their kids. These same books encourage reading to your kids, spending quality time with your kids, and building a positive relationship with your kids will do more to build your child into a confident well adjusted adult - but when it comes to black kids, it always seems that beating and cussing your kids out is the only thing that will save them from the police baton. The saddest part of this, is that if you probably go to the jail, most of the criminals probably have received some sort of corporal punishment from their caregivers- all the way from mild spankings to outright abuse. Check out these articles which suggests that spankings have long term negative effects on everything from criminality to depression and anxiety in adults. Beatings may produce short term results and lasting obedience, but are damaging the spirit of the child in the long run. Why do we save nurturing parental instruction for white kids, and keep saying black kids need to be beaten?

I could go on...but why? You have the same access to Google that I do.... But...let's just keep pretending that beating the hell out of your kids and cussing them out doesn't send the message that responding to circumstances you don't like with violence is okay. This seems to be a perfect example of " like mother, like son"...if you ask me. Let's also not pretend that the media loves to see black women behaving violently...check out Love and Hip Hop, Housewives of Atlanta, Basketball Wives, Girls Trip... - it is big business for black women to get sassy, loud, and throw fists.

All in all, I really thought this was a good book tackling issues and leaving door open for much needed discussions.

Recommendation: Read it! There are so many timely topics here from a living national treasure.

Audience: Millennials and up

*I borrowed the audiobook from my library Hoopla account

15 views0 comments
bottom of page