Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism


By beginning a conversation that encourages self-examination and compassion, Combined Destinies invites readers to look at how white Americans have been hurt by the very ideology that their ancestors created. Editors Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell, both experienced psychotherapists skilled at facilitating dialogue about racial issues, are cognizant of the challenges that even the thought of such conversations often presents. Their book is based on the premise that for positive and lasting change to ...
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By beginning a conversation that encourages self-examination and compassion, Combined Destinies invites readers to look at how white Americans have been hurt by the very ideology that their ancestors created. Editors Ann Todd Jealous and Caroline T. Haskell, both experienced psychotherapists skilled at facilitating dialogue about racial issues, are cognizant of the challenges that even the thought of such conversations often presents. Their book is based on the premise that for positive and lasting change to occur, hearts as well as minds must be opened.

This courageous anthology posits that unearned privilege has damaged the psyche of white people as well as their capacity to understand racism. Drawing on the intimate stories of diverse contributors, Combined Destinies is organized thematically, with individual chapters focusing on topics such as guilt, shame, silence, and resistance. The book includes an extensive reader’s guide, posing questions for discussion pertaining to each chapter and offering readers a chance to explore their own experiences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I picked cotton alongside blacks in the 1940s. It was our cotton and their sweat. We had a combined destiny that troubled me—mine to law school and theirs to grinding poverty. Racism pained me despite my white privilege. Combined Destinies puts that frustration into better focus. What a perceptive, well-written, and timely narrative."—Morris Dees, founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

"With the stories in Combined Destinies, Ann Jealous and Caroline Haskell take us another step forward toward understanding the legacy of racism’s impact on all children."—Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children’s Defense Fund

"Ann Jealous and Caroline Haskell have assembled a groundbreaking collection of stories by white Americans who recognize the pain and sorrow that racism has created in their lives. Everyone in society is hurt by racism, not just those who are its targets. What better way to teach this profound truth than to allow white people to share their epiphanies?"—Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University, and author of America behind the Color Line: Dialogues with African Americans

"This is a powerful collection that challenges us all to think about the role of race in our lives and our communities—and helps us do that. Each story takes you inside one person’s experience, and collectively they make you reflect on your own experience and beliefs. This book highlights just how important these continuing conversations around race are—for every person, of every race, of every background."—Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

"Our discourse is replete with false dichotomies: environmentalism vs. prosperity, rich vs. poor, and white vs. black. While some special interests thrive on conflict, Americans don’t—we suffer. The first step toward healing is to realize that we’re all in this together. Combined Destinies puts this in perspective like no other book. Read it and let one more false dichotomy dissolve into a deeper understanding of the way forward."—Van Jones, former special advisor to the Obama White House and author of Rebuild the Dream

"Covering multiple generations in the span of half a century of memories, Combined Destinies is an invaluable contribution to the oral history of the impact of racism on all Americans."—Derek Douglas, vice president for civic engagement, University of Chicago

"The raw and honest stories in Combined Destinies are both heartbreaking and heartwarming—devastating in their scope and specificity, but uplifting in demonstrating how people have overcome not only their own prejudices but also those of friends and family. There is much work yet to be done, and this book is a great start."—Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation and author of The Change I Believe In: Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama

"The stories in this collection are filled with compassion, honesty, and integrity. They challenge each reader to take a personal, intimate, and honest journey into his or her own past, thereby revising our understanding of the country’s past as well. This is a must read for anyone who cares about social justice and healing racism."—Cherie R. Brown, founder and executive director, National Coalition Building Institute

"To confront racism, to commit oneself to challenging the systemic racist conditioning to which we are all subject in the United States, is a life’s work. This book provides a rare vision for engaging in that lifetime of work with ourselves, each other, community, and society. Wherever you are on your journey in confronting racism, you will find this book to be a gift of love."—Rea Carey, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"While this is a book about the power of racism on the lives of whites, it is also about the influence racism has on those whose lives are touched by and intersect with whites—it is about the impact of white grief on all of us. This book moved me to tears and left me feeling confident that when we create space for soulrevealing storytelling, we also create windows of opportunity to transform lives and reclaim souls from the damaging impacts of oppression."—Larry D. Roper, professor of ethnic studies and vice provost for student affairs, Oregon State University

"For all of us on the road to social change, we must first learn to walk on the bridge to a multicultural America. Combined Destinies is part of that path, excavating our pasts through personal accounts but also pointing forward."—Larry Cohen, president, Communication Workers of America

"A must read for everyone searching for self-understanding, inspiration, and hope, this powerful book breaks our hesitant silence to talk about race. The gift that is this book invites truth telling, reflection, and learning with compassion and empathy."—Karen V. Hansen, professor of sociology and women’s and gender studies, Brandeis University

"I am a Haitian American black male married to a Caucasian American woman, and we have two children. This book’s courageous and personal testimonials present powerful evidence that all of humanity, regardless of race or ethnicity, is victimized by racism. More important, the book demonstrates that many individuals have pursued a path that leads to a place of honesty, sharing, acceptance, and understanding."—Patrick Gaston, president of the Western Union Foundation, former president of Gastal Networks LLC, and past president of the Verizon Foundation

"With grace, passion, and authenticity, Combined Destinies reveals the long-hidden story of how racism harms whites too. These stories, full of grief but also inspiration, show us how to heal the wounds that racism has caused."—James Forman Jr., clinical professor of law, Yale Law School

"Elegantly interweaves the stories of contributors with the editors’ commentary, which provides perceptive and wise context."—Patrice Vecchione, author, Writing and the Spiritual Life: Finding Your Voice by Looking Within

"Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism provides a helpful tool to engage white educators with racism at an affective level."—Christine E. Sleeter, Equity & Excellence in Education

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781612346953
  • Publisher: Potomac Books
  • Publication date: 9/28/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 854,087
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

ANN TODD JEALOUS is a former marriage and family therapist with a long history of supporting civil rights. CAROLINE T. HASKELL is a licensed clinical social worker and founding director of Health and Wellness Services at California State University–Monterey Bay and the campus affiliate director for the National Coalition Building Institute in Washington DC.
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