"A timely and thoughtful discussion about the intersection of gender and White privilege." -Kirkus Reviews
Selected by the editors of Kirkus Reviews as one of the featured Indie titles in their 11/15/20 magazine issue, a recognition extended to less than 10% of their reviewed new works.
Using the lens of inherited trauma and family history, Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor offers a hopeful, humanizing path for dismantling whiteness.
For over two decades, family constellations facilitator and therapist Lisa Iversen has been working with groups, including descendants of ancestors who have perpetrated harm or been victimized in circumstances of injustice. In this collection of essays, she brings together twelve white women who explore the role of whiteness in collective movements of immigration, colonialism, slavery, and war. Through genealogical research, family documents, and deep reflection, these writers from the US, Canada, and the UK disentangle themes of innocence, grief, race, privilege, and belonging in their families and ancestries.
Each essayist shares moving stories and anecdotes from their life, adding historical and cultural context to current conversations about white women's role in creating and sustaining whiteness.
"This collection of 12 personal essays represents brave explorations of their relationships to whiteness via different aspects of their histories and heritages. The essays provide a fascinating look at whiteness through the lenses of American racism and Jewish Americans; the Swiss and Nazi collaborations; displacement by war; relationship to unceded tribal Native lands; and German ethnicity and reparations. This book is a good reminder for Americans that whiteness may be expressed differently depending on the country and culture, but has always been associated with privilege and oppression." -Patricia L. Dawson, MD, PhD, FACS, Medical Director, Office of Healthcare Equity, UW Medicine
Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor will appeal to those ready to engage with the difficult truths of history, those interested in healing collective historic trauma and dismantling racism, therapists and family counselors, and all concerned about the fate of democratic nations sourced in whiteness. Each essay includes sources and resources for more information.
Essays by Sonya Lea, Karin Konstantynowicz, Anne Hayden, Summer Starr, Kate Regan, June BlueSpruce, Sabine Olsen, Carole Harmon, Christina Greené, Sharon Halfnight, Una Suseli O'Connell, Pam Emerson. Edited and Foreword by Lisa Iversen.
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About the Author
Una graduated with a degree in French from the University of Reading. She then spent a year as an intern with an educational psychologist in New York. Later she trained as a teacher of English and taught in the UK and Switzerland in traditional and alternative schools. She was Head of English at a technical high school and a Year 6 teacher at a Rudolf Steiner school. She also worked for the Bernese Teachers' Association, offering advanced language skills to Swiss teachers of English.
In 2000, she returned to the UK as the CEO and later the Principal of an English language school in Kent.
In 2001/02, Una trained in Systemic Family Constellations at the Hellinger Institute in New York.
In 2007, she began working for a London based charity, supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Una worked in primary and secondary schools, facilitating group work in the classroom and managing issues around belonging and inclusion, family and culture. She worked closely with children and their families and was actively involved in social care issues, including child protection.
Una provided training courses for teachers and team leaders and was invited to present her work at The National College for School Leadership conference.
Una now works independently, providing workshops and trainings for educators, school therapists and social workers on the subject of 'Family Conflict, Family Loyalty - navigating the path between the two'.
Una has two daughters. She is married and lives in North Hertfordshire.
Sonya Lea writes on memory and identity. Her memoir, Wondering Who You Are, (Tin House) about what happened after her husband lost the memory of their life, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Wondering has won awards and garnered praise in a number of publications including Oprah Magazine, People, and the BBC, who named it a "top ten book." Her essays have appeared in Salon, The Southern Review, Brevity, Guernica, Ms. Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Prentice Hall College Reader, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Butter, and more.
Lea has worked as a house cleaner, a cook, an editor, and for museums and science centers. She creates retreats and teaches writing in North America. She teaches at Hugo House in Seattle, online at Lidia Yuknavitch's Corporeal Writing, and she developed a pilot project to teach writing to women veterans through the Red Badge Project. She speaks at conferences, universities and festivals, including the Cork Writer's Festival (Ireland) and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
BITCHCONOCLAST is a mother-daughter podcast on sex, feminism and power that Lea created with performance artist/filmmaker Dylan Bandy.
Lea's short film, EVERY BEAUTIFUL THING, won two awards for direction and several awards for score. Her cast, crew and donors were seventy percent women. She is an Academy Award Nicholl Fellowship Finalist in screenwriting.
Originally from Kentucky, she lives in Seattle and the Canadian Rockies.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Lisa Iversen
Contextualizes the anthology in over twenty years of professional practice in family constellations facilitation and therapy, working with descendants of those who have perpetrated harm or been victimized by injustice.
Bloodlines: A Legal Lynching and a Family's Reckoning by Sonya Lea
Tells the story of the last public lynching in Kentucky and the author's ancestors' role in that event -- unpacks the implications for her, as a white Southern woman, in the oppression of Black men.
Roots, Borders, and Belonging by Karin Konstantynowicz
Explores the author's personal identity and struggle to feel belonging as the daughter of WWII refugees living in Canada, navigating both the pain of otherness and the invisibility of whiteness.
In The Shadow of Mt. Evans: Living in a Lineage of Genocide, White Privilege, and Intergenerational Healing by Anne Hayden
Explores Colorado Governor John Evans' role in the infamous 1864 Sand Creek Massacre of Arapahoe and Cheyenne people -- traces the author's path of healing her family's legacy of inherited shame.
Whiteness in Colonial America: My Family's Legacy by Summer Starr
Traces the author's family to seventeenth century Puritan colonizers in Massachusetts and Virginia and confronts the blind spots in her understanding of U.S. history that her whiteness has allowed her to uphold.
Not So Nice: Confessions of an "Innocent" White Woman by Kate Regan, PhD
Disentangles niceness, goodness, and innocence on a 'journey of the soul into white identity' during her decades-long exploration of her mentor's question, 'what impact did gender and race have on your experience of life?'
Warning: Whiteness May Be Hazardous To Your Health by June BlueSpruce
Explores the racism inherent in the field of western medicine -- from academia to healthcare practices & outcomes -- through the author's experience as a nurse and the stories of generations of doctors in her lineage.
It Cannot Be Condoned: Whiteness and the Legacy of War by Sabine Olsen
Recounts the author's upbringing in post-WWII Germany, visibility of collective healing & atonement, and the role of silence and speech in expression of white supremacy.
In Mountain Light: Walking With My Grandfather by Carole Harmon
Contemplates the author's relationship with the photographic and filmmaking work of her grandfather, which both documented and promoted the colonization of tribal lands in the creation of Canada's National Parks.
Weltschmerz by Christina Greené
Addresses the alienation and dislocation that befalls descendants when families don't 'talk about it' -- in the author's lineage, this was the trauma suffered by her Ukrainian grandmother, a survivor of Soviet genocide.
White Walking by Sharon Halfnight
Reflects on themes of birth, whiteness, modernity, and colonialism through a lens of 'edge-walking' -- explores harm caused by whiteness to the author, her fellow humans, and the environment.
The Cuckoo That Laid the Golden Egg: The Legacy of Nazi Gold in Switzerland by Una Suseli O'Connell
Reveals an uncomfortable parallel between the author's Swiss family's obsession with gold as the quintessential protector and Switzerland's history of laundering Nazi gold, the shadow side of its 'neutrality.'
Leaving Mitzrayim by Pam Emerson
Disentangles threads of persecution, assimilation into whiteness, the collusion of white supremacy with internalized antisemitism, and the spiritual territory of healing and collective liberation.