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The Mamas Reader’s Guide

By Helena Andrews-Dyer

The Mamas by Helena Andrews-Dyer

READERS GUIDE

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. What insight did The Mamas give you into your own mom groups?

2. Author Helena Andrews-Dyer aims to “tell it” (“as my Grandmommy would say”). What truths does she tell? What surprised you? What affirmed what you knew?

3. What effects do you think social media has on mommy groups? Benefits? Drawbacks?

4. Expectations and examples can put a lot of pressure on both Black mothers and white mothers. But the balance isn’t even. Andrews-Dyer says, “I had to be twice as good at something we all suck at.” What do you think she means?

5. Can you cite some examples from the book or your own experience where you see how Black motherhood has been exploited, erased, vilified, and denied?

6. Andrews-Dyer talks about judgment—both feeling judged by other mothers and her own judgment of them. Why do judgment, guilt, and shame seem to be such universal hallmarks of motherhood?

7. Discuss the writing. Andrews-Dyer is deft at wrapping up deep truths in hilarious prose. Is there something that sticks with you after reading?

8. Andrews-Dyer ponders what it means to be authentic, her own authenticity, and how to incorporate that into her connections, even asking “How do we define our own me-ness?” What is your answer to that question?

9. Andrews-Dyer talks about wanting to avoid the tropes of the Angry Black Mom or the Overreacting Black Mom, but notes the hypervigilance that Black moms face, often due to the “adultification” of Black children. Talk about the expectations and biases Black children come up against, and the worries that come with them.

10. The Mamas offers a thorough history of the reasons for Black women’s mistrust of white women—and why that continues through today. After reading, do you think Black moms and white moms can become real friends, not just mom friends?

11. What did you learn from The Mamas about how and where children—non-Black children in particular— learn racist behavior or bias? Is it simply “at home?” What other sources influence children?

12. How do you think reading The Mamas will affect your parenting going forward? What will stay with you?

 
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