The Mamas: What I Learned About Kids, Class, and Race from Moms Not Like Me
Can white moms and Black moms ever truly be friends? Not just mom friends, but like really real friends? And does it matter?
“Utterly addictive . . . Through her sharp wit and dynamic anecdotal storytelling, Helena Andrews-Dyer shines a light on the cultural differences that separate Black and white mothers.”—Tia Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June
Helena Andrews-Dyer lives in a “hot” Washington, D.C., neighborhood, which means picturesque row houses and plenty of gentrification. After having her first child, she joined the local mom group—“the Mamas”—and quickly realized that being one of the only Black mothers in the mix was a mixed bag. The racial, cultural, and socioeconomic differences were made clear almost immediately. But spending time in what she calls “the Polly Pocket world of postracial parenting” was a welcome reprieve. Then George Floyd happened. A man was murdered, a man who called out for his mama. And suddenly, the Mamas hit different. Though they were alike in some ways—they want their kids to be safe; they think their husbands are lazy; they work too much and feel guilty about it—Andrews-Dyer realized she had an entirely different set of problems that her neighborhood mom friends could never truly understand.
In The Mamas, Andrews-Dyer chronicles the particular challenges she faces in a group where systemic racism can be solved with an Excel spreadsheet and where she, a Black, professional, Ivy League–educated mom, is overcompensating with every move. Andrews-Dyer grapples with her own inner tensions, like “Why do I never leave the house with the baby and without my wedding ring?” and “Why did every name we considered for our kids have to pass the résumé test?” Throw in a global pandemic and a nationwide movement for social justice, and Andrews-Dyer ultimately tries to find out if moms from different backgrounds can truly understand one another.
With sharp wit and refreshing honesty, The Mamas explores the contradictions and community of motherhood—white and Black and everything—against the backdrop of the rapidly changing world.
Praise for The Mamas: What I Learned About Kids, Class, and Race from Moms Not Like Me
“Fans of Andrews-Dyer . . . expect blunt observations and crisp opinions, and The Mamas does not disappoint. In prose full of quips and asides, the reader rides shotgun as Andrews-Dyer careens toward and makes her getaway from the moms she both needs and at times despises.”—The Washington Post
“Andrews-Dyer works sociological findings into her witty, profanity-laced account, broadening our appreciation of how early, perhaps even inevitably, Black children experience discrimination.”—The Boston Globe
“As a Black mama experienced in the ways of white mom groups, I felt so seen by The Mamas. I highlighted whole paragraphs, I punched the air, and I may have shouted ‘Preach!’ more than a few times. Through her sharp wit and dynamic anecdotal storytelling, Helena Andrews-Dyer shines a light on the cultural differences that separate Black and white mothers—challenges that are often invisible to non-Black moms—and this central tension makes for an utterly addictive read. Brava!”—Tia Williams, New York Times bestselling author of Seven Days in June
“Helena Andrews-Dyer is one of our generation’s sharpest voices. The Mamas captures the unique anxieties of Black motherhood with humor and sensitivity, expertly tapping into the alternating feelings of inadequacy and superior competency that define just how we mother.”—Jamilah Lemieux, co-host of the Mom and Dad Are Fighting podcast
“I devoured The Mamas, laughing and shouting with recognition the whole way through. Navigating the high anxiety of Black motherhood at the intersections of class, race, and social media should come with a manual, and Andrews-Dyer has generously given us that: a smart, hilarious, irresistible read that’s memoir, social science, history, and your most honest group chat all in one.”—Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
“[A] candid take on race, class, and motherhood. . . . [Andrews-Dyer] mixes in some sharp reporting on topics including the importance of talking to kids about race. This frank portrait of motherhood hits all the marks.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Andrews-Dyer examines modern motherhood and the contours of community with sharp and honest commentary.”—Arlington Magazine