April Ryan’s face after Spicer’s Hitler comments is every Black person enduring bigotry in the workplace

It’s not easy being the only or one of the few Black people in a predominantly white space. Press correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks and new CNN commentator April Ryan’s experiences in dealing with the foolery of Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, are a prime example of this.

On Tuesday, Spicer stood in front of a room full of press correspondents to discuss recent actions in Syria. In an attempt to justify bombing the country, he was attempting to denigrate Bashar al-Assad but ended up making a complete fool of himself and his station.

Wrapped up in the same speech where he called Hitler’s death camps and gas chambers “Holocaust Centers,” Spicer also said the following,

We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself: ‘Is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with?’

When asked to explain his comments, Spicer only made it worse. He said, “He was not using gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.” Then he noted that Hitler “brought them into the Holocaust centers.”


In that very moment, Ryan – in glasses and white top – can be seen doing a double take, shocked — in silence — then looking around to see if anyone else heard what she heard. You’ll notice Washington Post reporter Ashley Parker, just in front of Ryan, confused, and raising her eyebrows too.

We’re laughing but it isn’t funny

The fact that the White House Press Secretary thinks Hitler “didn’t gas his own people” and that gas chambers were “Holocaust Centers” is actually embarrassing. Having to sit there, in that room, knowing full well that you are more qualified than the person speaking, only makes the situation worse. SNL will have a great time with it but this is an actual problem.

As Black people, especially women, we are frequently placed in these situations.  We frequently have to bite our tongues, attempt to calm our faces, and ignore the repeated offenses of non-Black people who make asinine comments like these. In addition to doing our work and being paid less for it, we have to perform professionalism even when it means witnessing racism, sexism, bigotry, ableism, and the like.

This experience comes after Spicer told Ryan “stop shaking your head” in front of the entire room just last month. And, don’t forget how O’Reilly talked about Auntie Maxine Waters.

But, neither of these women are punks. Ryan went on CNN just yesterday to say that Spicer might be out of a job soon. And Auntie Maxine stays trolling Trump on Twitter. These two women have more visibility and job security than most women so they can take those chances. Others of us? Not so much.

Spicer’s unimportant apology

Spicer later made an apology for his comments on CNN while in conversation with Wolf Blitzer saying,

“I was obviously trying to make a point about the heinous acts that Assad had made against his own people last week using chemical weapons and gas, and frankly I mistakenly used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust, for which frankly there is no comparison. And for that I apologize, it was a mistake to do that.”

Honestly, that doesn’t matter though. The issue wasn’t just his poor word choice. It was the fact that people in the room are forced to bear witness to his aggressively uninformed, deeply white supremacist, and highly problematic word vomit every. single. day.

April Ryan is a shero. She has been covering the White House since Bill Clinton was in office and still has to deal with Spicer’s sad excuse for showing up. She deserves some credit for that.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

2 Responses

  1. Shawna says:

    Was so shocked when I read his comments on CNN yesterday. This video says it all. I was like forget a history class, had this dude ever seen a movie? Even if he slept through history, it’s such a well documented FACT, he shouldn’t be so obviously ignorant about. Goodness! He needs to get fired for this and for everything! I’m starting to think he’s a conspiracy theorist like his boss. Maybe he really believed the Holocaust didn’t happen. Smh!

    Hats off to black women in the workplace everyday, enduring this and much worse….

  2. Absolutely. Spicer is trash. Utter trash. The fact that these women have to sit there and treat him like an equal (or even a superior?!?)? I could never.