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My Grandmother's Hands
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My Grandmother's Hands

Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies

In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.


Description

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. Menakem 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 only about the head, but about the body, and introduces an alternative view of what we can do to grow beyond our entrenched racialized divide. It paves the way for a new, body-centered understanding of white supremacy—how it is literally in our blood and our nervous system. 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.


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Testimonials


My Grandmother’s Hands is a revolutionary work of beauty, brilliance, compassion and ultimately, hope. With eloquence and grace, Resmaa Menakem masterfully lays out the missing piece in the puzzle of why, despite so many good intentions, we have not achieved racial justice. Yes, we need to understand white supremacy, but as Menakem so skillfully explains, white supremacy is not rational and we won’t end it with our intellect alone. White supremacy is internalized deep into our bodies. We must begin to understand it as white body supremacy and go to the depth of where it is stored, within our collective bones and muscles. To this end, My Grandmother’s Hands is an intimate guidebook toward racial healing, one that achieves that rare combination for its readers; it is deeply intellectually stimulating while also providing practical ways to engage in the process of repair, even as we read. I believe this book will change the direction of the movement for racial justice.”

Robin DiAngelo, Racial Justice Educator and author of White Fragility

My Grandmother’s Hands is a gripping journey through the labyrinths of trauma and its effects on modern life, especially for African Americans. In this important book, Resmaa’s penetrating insight into trauma is profoundly impactful, but even more powerful and useful are his strategies for addressing it―for healing. A brilliant thinker, Resmaa is able to bring a multitude of research and experience together to guide us in our understanding of how trauma affects our lives; how trauma is a part of all of our lives; and of how the history and progression of trauma has produced a culture in which no one is immune. This is essential reading if we are to wrest ourselves from the grips of trauma and discover the tropes in which our bodies and our minds are free of it. ”

Alexs Pate, author of Amistad and West of Rehoboth.

“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, author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son

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About the author


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.

Reviews

“Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois put his finger on African American consciousness when he wrote ‘one ever feels his twoness―an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body.’ But even Du Bois never addressed the process of healing the psychological wounds of the ‘two-ness.’ In My Grandmother Hands, Resmaa offers a path of internal reconciliation for a Person enduring the generational trauma of American racism, and gives us all a chance to dream of a healing from it.”

Keith Ellison , Member of Congress and Deputy Chair of the Democratic National Committee

My Grandmother’s Hands invites each of us to heal the racial trauma that lives in our bodies. As Resmaa Menakem explains, healing this trauma takes courage and a commitment to viscerally feel this racial pain. By skillfully combining therapy expertise with social criticism and practical guidance, he reveals a path forward for individual and collective healing that involves experiencing the sensations of this journey with each step. Are you willing to take the first step? ”

Alex Hayley, Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing

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