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

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--as well as those of other mothers and children--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. The sheer number of interviews can be overwhelming at times, and there are points throughout At Mama's Knee when the argument can be lost in cumbersome language. But 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. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

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