...we teach our children to fight for truth, righteousness and justice. But in the very work of raising these children, many of us die slow deaths--not because our children are killing us, even though, in some instances, that is the case, but because the circumstances under which we mother prohibit us from speaking our truth...
In my mental rolodex are countless stories like these, stories of my own and stories of women I know, stories of women I don’t know but have encountered through memoirs and novels. These are the narratives of girls who are born extraordinary. They are the tales of women who have worked hard to become change agents and power brokers in our society—magical women, unicorns, and black girls who rock, every day, but are unable to see their greatness because...
While you may or may not understand poverty or what it means to be black, many of you understand sexual trauma, feeling unworthy, mental health. You also understand what it means to tell someone to kiss your ass after they have written you off. You understand the sense of accomplishment that comes with proving someone wrong.
I am so tired. But I cannot rest. I fell asleep last night after being up for about 36 hours…36 hours of thinking and praying and loving and talking and teaching and holding and guiding and soothing and seeking…I was so tired. I quickly fell into a deep sleep, only to be awakened by a dream. In this dream--there’s so much I can’t remember now--I was giving my son gifts.
I am a PhD candidate. I am also the single mother of six children. That is what inspired Infamous Mothers. I wanted to read stories about women who were disrupting stereotypes and norms. I wanted to read about teen mothers who were revolutionaries, baby mamas who were doctors, formerly-addicted mothers who became counselors. I wanted to read stories about unlikely heroines who not only looked like me but who had experiences like mine. And my existence, along with the existence of many others, proved that wanting these stories was not asking for too much because we have examples of them every day.
Finally, I pulled over and said to her, "Baby, have you heard anything about the news today?" My angel/pixie/fairy/mermaid shook her head no. I said, "I've been thinking about you all day as these horrific stories have played over and over and over and I think that you are old enough to be aware of the world around you. And maybe, baby, if I show you, you will be able to understand better, why I am constantly monitoring you while we are in stores about little behaviors that seem like I am making a big deal for nothing." I went on to say, "Now, I know you have seen scary movies and you are not too affected by them because you know that they really aren't real. But baby, today I have seen some things that are scarier than any movie that I have ever seen. They were more scary because they were REAL."
More Discussion Questions
More Discussion Questions
Additional Discussion Questions
How does the speech Your Privilege Will Not Protect You provide a lens (or lenses) for understand the stories within the book? In other words, how does it give you a framework for understanding the issues, challenges and triumphs the experienced by the women of Infamous Mothers?
In what ways can we link the #MeToo campaign to stories within Infamous Mothers?
What intergenerational connections can be made between the stories told by Tanisha and Carol?
Compare and contrast Infamous Mothers with other books that address domestic violence and sexual trauma. For example, how is it similar to and different from books like Push and The Color Purple?
What does triumph look like for the women in this project?
How do these women make a difference in our society?