An excerpt from April Ryan’s new book, ‘Under Fire: Reporting from the Front Lines of the Trump White House.’ Used with permission.
These past two years have even amazed me as I have come to have a clearer understanding of what it means to stand for something in the middle of a storm. There is one thing I figured out along the way. Standing up for yourself is really not that hard, especially when you put it into context. However, what has happened on the job is a lot easier than other situations in my life. It is nothing compared to losing my mother after trying to “will her to live” in her last six months of life. It is nothing compared to having meaningful family relationships that are so complex that love is all you have. What has happened is nothing compared to growing up Baltimore Strong. It is nothing compared to raising two daughters essentially by myself since their birth into their teens and young womanhood.
Maybe people thought I would be weaker, that I would give in, but that’s not how I was raised. My mother always said “never give up.” In this case, I take her words as “never give in.” When I face adversity, I come back strong. It might slow me down for a minute, I might have to catch my breath, but then I’m back at it and there’s no stopping me. That’s where I am now. I do not have time for people trying to use their words to insult me or getting aggressive so that I won’t have a follow-up question. While I might not feel comfortable being in the news, I’m very comfortable with how I conduct myself on the job.
With all this under my belt, I am still blessed and honored to cover the White House daily and be considered an esteemed veteran at this job. Make no mistake about it, I have the greatest respect for the office of the president and the president himself. My respect for the office runs deep. It is more about those who are in the inner sanctum of the White House who have disdain for me. I understand that people are making the attacks, not the institution of the presidency.
However, I still have faith in this country and the people of this great land. I am the example they want to set for the White House press corps. The administration’s attack is not just on me, but the entire press. This is not a test, but the real thing, a challenge, and we will see if their attack is successful in the November 2018 midterm elections. For me, I plan to stay on the job, continuing to ask about all of America, especially Black America, because unfortunately the community does not get a fair shake. If the neo-Nazis and alt-right are upset, there’s nothing I can do about that. I was there before they even thought of a man like Donald Trump for president. Who are we as a people if we can’t allow for a difference of views and opinions without being in danger of physical harm, especially if I do not look like you or speak like you? Individual differences and opposing thought is what has made this country great. Yes, I said it. This country is great and has always been, but do we have blemishes, flaws, and warts? Oh, yes. Do we deal with them? Yes!
I report daily in protest — my job, which I have always enjoyed, is now my form of protest, my marching, and even my “taking a knee” for other journalists of all races and genders. The protest is in the form of coming to work daily, asking questions, being professional, and not giving in to the taunts and sneers from the White House and other likeminded Trump minions. My protest is in your face, showing I am not dissuaded by the name-calling or minor juvenile attempts to hurt me. I am not thrown by attempts to offer career-ending lies about me. I have receipts to prove otherwise.
Previously, I never viewed my reporting as a form of protest but as something I was trained to do and continue to do until I choose to leave. It is my right to report and ask questions. But now this reporting has taken on a new meaning. My protest is active and goes against those who offer racist remarks as I continue to ask the same questions I have asked since day one. My protest is not silent. It puts that glaring spotlight on issues that would normally be swept under the rug. My protest is meant to offer truth and unbiased questioning. People always ask how I do it, how I go back.
It’s simple. My truth is difficult, it’s not easy, but it is empowering for me. I hope it is for you as well.