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At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White
     

At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White

by April Ryan
 

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In her first book, The Presidency in Black and White, journalist April Ryan examined race in America through her experience as a White House reporter. In this book, she shifts the conversation from the White House to every home in America. At Mama’s Knee looks at race and race relations through the lessons that mothers transmit to their children. As a single

Overview

In her first book, The Presidency in Black and White, journalist April Ryan examined race in America through her experience as a White House reporter. In this book, she shifts the conversation from the White House to every home in America. At Mama’s Knee looks at race and race relations through the lessons that mothers transmit to their children. As a single African American mother in Baltimore, Ryan has struggled with each gut wrenching, race related news story to find the words to convey the right lessons to her daughters. To better understand how mothers transfer to their children wisdom on race and race relations, she reached out to other mothers—prominent political leaders like Hillary Clinton and Valerie Jarrett, celebrities like Cindy Williams, and others like Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother, whose lives have been impacted by prominent race related events. At a time when Americans still struggle to address racial division and prejudice, their stories remind us that attitudes change from one generation to the next and one child at a time.

Features interviews with: Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; John Lewis, congressman; Hillary Clinton, former First Lady, Secretary of State, Presidential candidate; Cindy Williams, actress known for role of Shirley on Laverne & Shirley; Cory Booker, United States senator; Christopher Darden, OJ Simpson prosecutor; Michael Cole, actor best known for role of Pete on The Mod Squad; Valerie Jarrett, presidential advisor; Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy; Iyanla Vansant, author, life coach and television personality; Harry Belafonte, singer, songwriter, actor, and social activist; President Barack Obama; and President Jimmy Carter.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
01/23/2017
Journalist Ryan’s loosely connected series of essays and autobiographical sketches examines what it means for mothers of color to work hard, protect children against a racist world, and find balance among competing responsibilities. In a pivotal passage about the protests over Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, she recalls that in “April 2015, the Baltimore I grew up loving was turned upside down.... I remember driving back from the White House that April evening frantic to get home to my children, Ryan and Grace, not knowing what was going to happen in my community.” Ryan, a member of the White House press corps, lends her voice as an African-American mother to debates about divorce, community, death, and politics. Her journalistic chops are evident in her keen eye for an important topic, and she also shows a willingness to stake out strong and even unpopular opinions, such as in her stringent critique of the reclamation and use of anti-black slurs by African-Americans. However, like many works by short-form journalists, her long-form book has a thematic thread but not a dramatic arc. She too often lets others speak for her via interviews with political aides and community activists while holding more personal matters—her mother’s death, a family shooting, and her own balance of career and motherhood—at arm’s length. (Dec.)
Shelf Awareness - Kerry McHugh
"As a single mother of two young girls, native of Baltimore and veteran White House correspondent, April Ryan (The Presidency in Black and White) has spent much of her adulthood juggling the complex issues of race and race relations in both her personal and professional lives. In her second book, At Mama's Knee: Mothers and Race in Black and White, she draws on that experience. . . to present a new and multifaceted interpretation of the important role that mothers play in both understanding and defining race relations in the United States today.

Ryan uses her journalistic background to great effect in At Mama's Knee, most notably through extensive conversations with others. Interviews with prominent politicians, such as Hillary Clinton and Valerie Jarrett, combine with the stories of mothers who have been thrust into the news cycle, such as Gwen Carr (mother of Eric Garner) and Sybrina Fulton (mother of Trayvon Martin), to fully flesh out Ryan's ideas of race and motherhood. . . At its heart, Ryan's work is an important reminder of the place of mothers in the ongoing conversation about race and racial tensions in U.S. "We must teach our children," she urges, "whether with words or actions, about race in America." The words in At Mama's Knee are an important part of that teaching."

Montel Williams
"In these racially turbulent times, April Ryan’s At Mama's Knee is essential reading. Drawing from her experience as a White House reporter and keen observations of black motherhood in the 21st century, April offers a poignant look at the racial challenges our nation still faces. Mothers are on the front lines of racial revolution. At Mama's Knee teaches us, above all, that mothers in America carry a heavy burden. Their lessons on race and intolerance shape not just the lives of their children, but our communities and nation as a whole."

T. D. Jakes
“In her latest tome, At Mama’s Knee, April Ryan brings a needed and necessary conversation on race to the forefront. That she chooses to tell these precious stories on race through the voice of a mother is worthy of perking our ears to listen. Mothers are the backbone of our society. They set the stage for how we will address the world. And in today’s racially charged climate, there are far too many mothers crying. It’s time that we lean into the wisdom emanating through these poignant expressions of joy and pain.”
Vanessa De Luca
"Ryan's emotionally-rich exploration of the influences race, identity and family have on our life experiences reminds us just how powerful an imprint mothers make on us all."
Bobby Scott
"From her humble beginnings in inner city Baltimore to the heights of serving as a White House correspondent, April Ryan has seen it all. From this unique perspective, she shares her life experience as a black daughter and now as a black mother in today's racially complex world."

Wolf Blitzer
“April Ryan has written a truly amazing book. At Mama's Knee is powerful and personal; insightful and moving; loving and gracious. I learned so much. Anyone who reads At Mama's Knee will emerge smarter and stronger."
Cornell William Brooks
“With passion and precision, April Ryan examines race, gender, and family at the dawn of a post-Obama, and an anything but post-racial America.... Incisive, intelligent and interesting page after page.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442265639
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
12/15/2016
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
9,415
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.60(d)

Meet the Author

April Ryan, a 30-year journalism veteran, has been the White House correspondent for 20 years for American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), covering three US presidents who have called on her by name. She is also the Washington Bureau Chief. Along with responsibilities at the White House, Ryan hosts the daily feature, “The White House Report,” which is broadcast to AURN’s nearly 300 affiliated stations nationwide. She is regularly featured on political news shows and is a frequent speaker around the country. Her first book,The Presidency in Black and White,was published in 2015. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and is theproud mother of two girls.

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