My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

by Resmaa Menakem
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

by Resmaa Menakem


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The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. In this groundbreaking work, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of body-centered psychology. He argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn't just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans--our police.

My Grandmother's Hands is a call to action for all of us to recognize that racism is not about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide.

  • Paves the way for a new, body-centered understanding of white supremacy--how it is literally in our blood and our nervous system.

  • Offers a step-by-step solution--a healing process--in addition to incisive social commentary.

  • Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW, is a therapist with decades of experience currently in private practice in Minneapolis, MN, specializing in trauma, body-centered psychotherapy, and violence prevention. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil as an expert on conflict and violence. Menakem has studied with bestselling authors Dr. David Schnarch (Passionate Marriage) and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score). He also trained at Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute.

    Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781942094470
    Publisher: Central Recovery Press, LLC
    Publication date: 09/19/2017
    Pages: 300
    Sales rank: 566
    Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
    Age Range: 18 Years

    About the Author

    Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP, has appeared on both The Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil as an expert on conflict and violence. He has served as director of counseling services for the Tubman Family Alliance; as behavioral health director for African American Family Services in Minneapolis; as a domestic violence counselor for Wilder Foundation; as a certified Military and Family Life Consultant for the U.S. Armed Forces; as a trauma consultant for the Minneapolis Public Schools; and as a Cultural Somatics consultant for the Minneapolis Police Department. As a Community Care Counselor, he managed the wellness and counseling services for civilians on fifty-three US military bases in Afghanistan. Resmaa studied and trained at Peter Levine's Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute, as well as with Dr. David Schnarch (author of the bestselling Passionate Marriage) and Bessel van der Kolk, MD (author of the bestselling The Body Keeps the Score). He currently teaches workshops on Cultural Somatics for audiences of African Americans, European Americans, and police officers. He is also a therapist in private practice.

    Table of Contents

    Do Not Cross This Line ix

    Watch Your Body xiii

    Acknowledging Our Ancestors xv

    Our Bodies, Our Country xvii

    Part I Unarmed and Dismembered

    Chapter 1 Your Body and Blood 3

    Chapter 2 Black, White, Blue, and You 27

    Chapter 3 Body to Body, Generation to Generation 37

    Chapter 4 European Trauma and the Invention of Whiteness 57

    Chapter 5 Assaulting the Black Heart 67

    Chapter 6 Violating the Black Body 87

    Chapter 7 The False Fragility of the White Body 97

    Chapter 8 White-Body Supremacy and the Police Body 111

    Chapter 9 Changing the World Begins with Your Body 129

    Part II Remembering Ourselves

    Chapter 10 Your Soul Nerve 137

    Chapter 11 Settling and Safeguarding Your Body 151

    Chapter 12 The Wisdom of Clean Pain 165

    Chapter 13 Reaching Out to Other Bodies 177

    Chapter 14 Harmonizing with Other Bodies 181

    Chapter 15 Mending the Black Heart and Body 187

    Chapter 16 Mending the White Heart and Body 199

    Chapter 17 Mending the Police Heart and Body 215

    Part III Mending Our Collective Body

    Chapter 18 Body-Centered Activism 237

    Chapter 19 Creating Culture 245

    Chapter 20 Cultural Healing for African Americans 253

    Chapter 21 Whiteness without Supremacy 261

    Chapter 22 Reshaping Police Culture 275

    Chapter 23 Healing Is in Our Hands 287

    Chapter 24 The Reckoning 293

    Afterword 299

    Five Opportunities for Healing and Making Room for Growth 305

    Acknowledging My Contemporaries 307

    What People are Saying About This

    From the Publisher

    “A fascinating, must-read, groundbreaking book that offers a novel approach to healing America’s long-standing racial trauma.”—Joseph L. White, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Psychiatry at UC Irvine, author of The Psychology of Blacks, Black Man Emerging, Black Fathers , and Building Multicultural Competency: Development, Training, and Practice

    “Resmaa Menakem cuts to the heart of America’s racial crisis with the precision of a surgeon in ways few have before. Addressing the intergenerational trauma of white supremacy and its effects on all of us—understanding it as a true soul wound—is the first order of business if we hope to pull out of the current morass. As this amazing work shows us, policies alone will not do it, and bold social action, though vital to achieving justice, will require those engaged in it to also take action on the injury, deep and personal, from which we all suffer.”—Tim Wise, bestselling author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son and Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority

    “Forget diversity. Forget teaching tolerance. Forget white guilt. With clarity and insight, Resmaa offers a profoundly different approach to healing racism in America.”—John Friel, PhD and Linda Friel, MA, directors of ClearLife Clinic and New York Times bestselling co-authors of nine books, including Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families

    “As a career peace officer I entered this noble profession to serve my community, but I had never received any instruction in the police academy or been issued a piece of equipment that prepared me to recognize or examine community trauma . . . or my own. My Grandmother's Hands gave me a profound and compelling historical map tracing law enforcement’s role as sometimes unknowing contributors to community trauma. The book gives peace officers tools that can help in the healing of their communities and emphasizes self-care so that the men and women entrusted to be guardians and protectors of our communities are taken care of as well.”
    —Medaria Arradondo, Assistant Chief, Minneapolis Police Department

    “Offers a well needed paradigm shift on how we think, dream, and strategize against white supremacy in our bodies, cultures, and institutions. A must-have for anyone interested in advancing Racial Justice and healing.”—Chaka A. Mkali, Director of organizing and community building at Hope Community and Hip Hop artist I Self Devine

    “Resmaa’s book is an intimate and direct look at the way the Black-white dynamic is held, not only in institutions such as policing, but also in the bodies of all of those involved. Building on Dr. DeGruy’s work in Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome , Resmaa looks at how history is held and replayed by the body’s survival responses, specifically focusing on the experience of Blackness and trauma, the history and experience of whiteness and the white body, and the creation of and experience of the police force and the body of the police. In addition to providing theory and analysis, this book also offers concrete practices that are part of the work of shifting the violence of [the] original wound.”—Susan Raffo, shared owner of Integral Somatic Therapy, bodyworker, writer, and community organizer, The People’s Movement Center

    My Grandmother's Hands is full of wisdom and understanding. In it, Resmaa Menakem offers a new way to understand racism and, more importantly, to heal it. This book lays out a path to freedom and peace, first for individual readers, then for our culture as a whole. A must-read for everyone who cares about our country.” —Nancy Van Dyken, LP, LICSW, author of Everyday Narcissism

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