In this long-overdue celebration of Black women’s resilience and unheralded strength, the revered, trailblazing White House correspondent reflects on “The Year That Changed Everything”—2020—and African-American women’s unprecedented role in upholding democracy.
“I am keenly aware that everyone and everything has a story,” April D. Ryan acknowledges. “Also, I have always marveled at Black women and how we work to move mountains and are never really thanked or recognized.” In Black Women Will Save the World, she melds these two truths, creating an inspiring and heart-tugging portrait of one of the momentous years in America, 2020—when America elected its first Black woman Vice President—and celebrates the tenacity, power, and impact of Black women across America.
From the beginning of the nation to today, Black women have transformed their pain into progress and have been at the frontlines of the nation’s political, social, and economic struggles. These “Sheroes” as Ryan calls them, include current political leaders such as Maxine Waters, Valerie Jarrett, and Kamala Harris; LaTosha Brown, and other activists. Combining profiles and in-depth interviews with these influential movers and shakers and many more, Ryan explores the challenges Black women endure, and how the lessons they’ve learned can help us shape our own stories. Ryan also chronicles her personal journey from working-class Baltimore to the elite echelons of journalism and speaks out about the hurdles she faced in becoming one of the most well-connected members of the Washington press corps—while raising two daughters as a single mother in the aftermath of a messy divorce.
It is time for everyone to acknowledge Black women’s unrivaled contributions to America. Yet our democracy remains in peril, and their work is far from done. Black Women Will Save the World presents a vital kaleidoscopic look at women of different ages and from diverse backgrounds who devote their lives to making the world a better place—even if that means stepping out of their “place.”
April Ryan’s Black Women Will Save the World is both an anthem and a love letter to Black women. It is a celebration of Black women’s power, tenacity, perseverance, and impact.
As Ryan explains, Black women’s contributions to this country and its democracy have been historically overlooked. For one of the first times, after the 2020 election, the public gave Black women some acknowledgement for saving democracy and preventing another Trump presidential term. Yet, the full scope and history of Black women’s contributions to this country remain largely unacknowledged by the majority.
From abolition to women’s suffrage to Black Lives Matter, Black women often act as the moral compass of our country and are dedicated fighters for the truth and equity. Within Black Women Will Save the World, Ryan discusses how and why Black women lead, what they endure, how they overcome, and what may be next for Black women and America. Ryan also weaves her personal journey as a journalist into the book, specifically her experience as a Black woman in the White House Press Corps. She reflects on being often overlooked or pushed aside, or during the Trump administration denigrated and cast out, because her work and questions are inconvenient for people in power.
While I found this book to be moving and an important proclamation, Ryan’s arguments and statements were frequently repetitive. Furthermore, I always go into a nonfiction book hoping to learn and did not gain much knowledge from reading Black Women Will Save the World. (I should note that I have some education on this and similar topics.) I found that Ryan’s insights were not unfamiliar to me nor particularly deep. Perhaps the lack of nuance can simply be chalked up to her training as a journalist, since it felt indicative of short form writing.
I thought that Ryan’s experience and personal narrative lent credence to her political assertions and provided her the connections to gain first-hand accounts from major political figures. Her strongest points were in relation to Black women’s political engagement and contributions.
I appreciated that Ryan provided action items for readers. As I read the entire book, I was thinking about what I could do, and she both confirmed these thoughts and gave additional steps. However, I think Black women of younger generations may find it problematic that Ryan encourages Black women to keep up the good fight despite its toll – exploitation, unpaid labor, and intergenerational trauma.
I am unclear who comprises Ryan’s intended audience. I think this book will be uplifting to Black female readers (minus the aforementioned issue) and incredibly informative for those who do not realize the value of Black women’s contributions. While I understand the importance of spirituality and religion for Black Americans, if Ryan did intend for the book to target the latter, I think her inclusion of religious statements may be detrimental.
Overall, I enjoyed Black Women Will Save the World but wish it was less repetitive and more nuanced. However, I urge white people, especially those that fear performative allyship, to read this. It is a solid, short introduction to the contributions of Black women to the U.S.
Black Women Will Save the World: An Anthem
Nonfiction – Social Issues
October 18, 2022