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

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  685 ratings  ·  57 reviews
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 gen ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Central Recovery Press
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cat
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I don't even know where to start with a review of this book. It is such a powerful addition to the conversation about trauma, about white supremacy, about bodily healing of trauma -- and specifically the way that bodies hold the trauma of white body supremacy. The trauma is not only held by bodies of color, and this author actually addresses bodies of color, white bodies, and law enforcement bodies each individually, as well as collective/communal healing of all bodies. There is a lot of unpacki ...more
Novel Addiction
Nov 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What impressed me most about 'My Grandmother's Hands', was how well author Resmaa Menakem tackled the controversial topic that is racism. He was made no accusations, and doesn't lecture the reader. He isn't saying that all white people are racist or all black people are distrustful. What he suggests – rather convincingly – is that racial prejudice can be carried within our bodies, caused by the traumatic experiences of those that came before us. I loved how personal and insightful this book was, ...more
Erika Sanders
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've studied racism and been part of anti-racism work for over 25 years, and I have to say, this book is one of the most valuable pieces of work on the topic that I've read. Menakem's teachings don't replace or supplant other racial liberation tactics or philosophies, but instead give us a fresh way to expand how we understand the lived racial experience we ALL have. It gives us another road into this work, a road that seems essential to travel, even as we commit and recommit ourselves to multip ...more
Hannah
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
essential for all somatics practitioners & antiracist organizers & activists! this book is a true gem: beautifully & accessibly organized, clear, and kind but firm. there are many solo & group practices to work with, and some key insights into what makes culture & how culture shifts. i also especially appreciated the ancestral history of whiteness: the reality that settlers arrived on these stolen lands with deep trauma from watching the white ruling class torture the undercl ...more
Carl Williams

I received a copy of this book, free, through Goodread Giveaways.

There is a growing bulk of indications that we hold trauma not only in our brains, our emotions, but it is carried generationally in our bodies.

“Contrary to what many people believe, trauma is not primarily an emotion response. Trauma always happens in the body. It is a spontaneous protective mechanism used by the body to stop or thwart further (or future) potential damage. (p 7)

This carefully written and s
...more
Jeffrey Berger
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This ground-breaking book begins with a warning:

If the persistence of white supremacy in America surprises you, this book will give you a startlingly different understanding of why ...


If you are not surprised that widespread white supremacy continues to injure America, but have little hope for overcoming it, keep reading ...


If you see white supremacy as a belief system or ideology, in this book you will discover only a fraction of it exists in our cognitive brains ...


If you are convinced that endi

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Anne Phyfe Palmer
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Trauma is held in the body. And many (including me) believe that all Americans carry in our bodies the incredible trauma of the past four hundred years of American history, whether unconsciously or not. In this generous book, Resmaa Menakem, MSW, gives reader a context for this trauma, and a pathway to mend it, through the body. His background as a practitioner trained in Somatic Experiencing offers a rich layering of understanding that I found immediately helpful.
I learned a great deal from th
...more
Lauren Siegel
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I happened to read "White Fragility" before reading this book and that was really the best thing to do (for myself at least). Resmaa references White Fragility in his book quite a bit and it gets at racism the from first some cognitive/"things to know" and then Resmaa's book takes into a "body practice" how to feel out racialized trauma and work through it. I would seriously recommend this book for anyone. It has practical things you can do to identify and work through your own racialized trauma ...more
Naomi
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Filled with insights from years of social work, this must-read empowers folks to address racialized trauma in their own bodies and work with others in meeting racism in society. Challenging and life-changing work. Recommended for small group study, congregational study, and community work as well as individual and family reading (with teens and older as there is frank language and reflections on violence).
Lawrence
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
**What are the main ideas?**

* white supremacy is more accurately called white-body supremacy. it's got less to do with supremacy of white skin and more to do with supremacy of bodies that are considered white. this could be seen as semantic but is quite helpful.
* white-body supremacy lives in our BODIES; it's in our blood, dna, flesh, and the pre-cognitive parts of our brains (aka the lizard brain).
* as such, trainings that focus on the mind as the site from which to undo white-body supr
...more
Kara Coe
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful

This book translates into everyday language, and further develops the research-based ideas of "The Body Keeps the Score." It is full of suggestions for exercises in body awareness and mindfulness.

But equally important is the framework of American racial trauma. This is not just for people of color. Chapters are devoted to describing generational trauma and healing practices for each of three groups: African American, white American and police officers. The author has applicable experie
...more
Rabid Reads
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
by Resmaa Menakem is a new look and a new approach to healing from what has become known as "white supremacy". This book proposes a wholly new approach to healing the divide in our society, where racism is rampant, black young men are routinely gunned down by police, and hurt prevails. A groundbreaking book that endeavors to heal generational racism, that which actually becomes inherited from one gene
...more
Thomas DeWolf
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've studied Trauma Awareness & Resilience, read widely on the topic, and have been involved for more than a decade with an organization focused on the historic trauma of the legacy and aftermath of slavery in the United States: Coming to the Table. This book is the best I've read on confronting racism by recognizing it as inter-generational and systemic trauma. Key is understanding that "white-body supremacy doesn't live in our thinking brains. It lives and breathes in our bodies." This is a powe ...more
Nose In A Book
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Racism is a hot button topic of the moment. Despite half a century separating us from the Civil Rights movement, racism is still such a volatile subject. White police officers are seemingly gunning down unarmed black individuals, and there is a black model sacked from her high profile contract for saying 'all white people are racist'. With so much information thrown at you from TV screens, the internet and print media, it can be so hard to know what to think or believe.

So, I was defi
...more
Drew Weis
Nov 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is important! As a white male psychologist, I have a responsibility to attend not only to the individuals I accompany through adversity and growth but also to the larger forces of influence. And in this land, with its history of immigrants seeking refuge from oppression and its legacy of genocide of the indigenous peoples and its hundreds of years of enslavement and subsequent oppressions, historical trauma continues as a pervasive influence. To fail to understand this and address this ...more
Philippe Matthews
One of the most necessary books written on healing racism!

The framework Resmaa has laid out in this book is the best I have seen in relation to healing historical trauma, retention trauma and acute race based trauma. Anyone born in America or planning to live here should have this book right next to their first aid kit! Hotep!
Michelle Kuhn
My pastor recommended this book to me as we were discussing my students, and their struggles and pain which is exhibited in all kinds of acting out, or even scarier sometimes- withdrawal. Menakem fleshes out the idea of epigenetics, which is the theory that trauma is passed down through our DNA. He traces the history of violence in European history, and posits that this unprocessed trauma of witnessing public hangings and torture was the eventual cause of the acts of violence perpetrated by whit ...more
C.E. G
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This adds such an important somatic lens for anti-racist conversations and work. I highly recommend this book for white people, as the exercises and suggestions helped me feel out the white supremacy my body holds and figure out regular practices that can help weaken or release it.

However, this book only covers anti-Black racism coming from white people and police officers. Anti-indigenous racism is such a central experience for white people in America, it feels incomplete to not address its ro
...more
Mofi Badmos
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'll start by saying : this was a library borrow and i'm thinking of buying the book!

Resmaa does a fine job of digging very deep into white-body supremacy (as the author calls it) from the perspective of trauma, especially intergenerational trauma and body-centered psychology. In the book the author is speaking to three main audiences: black bodies, white bodies and police bodies on recognizing the depths of white supremacy and the importance of understanding its roots and healing our bodies in
...more
Paragraph And A Half
Nov 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Despite what we may want to believe, the issue of white privilege and supremacy is still something that needs to be tackled. You need to only look at the American Police Force, constantly in the news for what appears to be a prejudiced response to male black youths particularly. This response not only hurts the African American community, but the community as a whole, as it but a divide between the races, intended or not. With My Grandmother's Hands, esteemed therapist Resmaa Menakem teaches us ...more
Book Blast
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a former student of biology, I have always been interested in inheritance. It is fascinating the amount of information that can be passed on from generation to generation through DNA. So, Resmaa Menakem grabbed my attention, when he suggested that our response to race is also inherited. He argues that racial strife can have such an impact that it actually changes our DNA, causing a kind of involuntary racism. Just like gene therapy can treat a genetic disorder, so can our body's response to r ...more
Juliet Waldron
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Visionary and an eye-opener for this reader, who saw MLK on the T.V. in her teens, and who really didn't know all that much about America's past. The truth wasn't taught at school and I was a protected middle class white kid. It makes sense to me, reading about this held-in-the-body trauma. After reading My Grandmother's Hands, many personal experiences that had once puzzled and frightened me suddenly made sense. The pain Resmaa Menakem describes is the pain of the ages, endlessly circling back ...more
Reading Right
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Has race always been a concept that is black and white (excuse the pun). Throughout history it has been a cause of a lot of suffering and pain, could this have left a mark on our souls, within our DNA. In his revolutionary book, Resmaa Menakem, argues that our perception of race is embedded within our bodies and as a result we have a wariness of different races. Perhaps you are thinking that is nonsense, but think about it. I myself probably have this wariness, in that I may sometimes hold back ...more
Kickass Reads
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Racism is such a huge issue these days, and in a supposedly progressive nation that has moved on from so many past injustices it is one that should have been tackled in a far more comprehensive way long before now.

This is the first book I’ve read that takes a spotlight to racism in such a way, and quite a unique and unconventional approach at times too. Having such insight into traumas past and present, and understanding associated with it is key to making real progression on such a complicated
...more
Ginaschuchman
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Resmaa has done a wonderful job of speaking honestly about the reality of racism in our world and the trauma that is experienced by all parties involved. He speaks of the inheritance of trauma to those stolen or sold into lives of slavery and dehumanizing abuse and their descendents , the trauma carried by their abusers from the slavery and abuse of their ancestors and, finally, of the carried trauma and fear of law enforcement who are not being cared for or taught to care for themselves.
The au
...more
Anna
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: therapy
This may be the most important therapy book I've read this year. It's a beautiful discussion of the cultural trauma that we all carry and how to combat further racial trauma in this country. There are countless exercises to help you get in touch with you body, evaluate and process your own experiences, and cope with your own cultural trauma. There's also several lists of ideas for combating racial difficulties in your own life. I especially loved the discussions of police officers - the trauma t ...more
Dianne Daniels
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyable - highly recommended

I read / listened to this book as part of a course requirement for my Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. There is SO much immediately usable and valuable information in this book!

The narration was excellent, and I’m going to recommend that my peers at school, in my community and within community organizations also read / listen to this book. I’m also going to highly recommend it to our law enforcement professionals on
...more
Bookish Picks
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found My Grandmother’s Hands to be a well thought-out and unbelievably frank view at how we can all, white and black, take individual responsibility in changing how we think about and deal with racial prejudice, and where the fictional interpretation of race first began.

By challenging our cultural norms, the author explains, we can take control our own path and but aside racial trauma passed on through abuse and confusion.

A remarkable book the like I’ve never read before I found t
...more
J.S. Lee
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a woman of color on my long journey of healing from multiple traumas, this was a fascinating and informative read. Although at times I felt some suggestions were asking more of humanity than I’ve learned to expect, I admire how far it reaches. And given its premise of healing generational trauma, as an adoptee cut from my genetic line, I connected to more of it than I’d have thought. I took my time with this book, pausing in between other reads, allowing my learnings to soak in. I’ll revisit ...more
Luxurious Literature
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ongoing racial trauma and injustice is a blight on what should these days be a progressively thinking society, but rather than this book being about pointing fingers and laying blame Menakem offers an all-welcoming approach to our individual perspectives in how we can help bring about change. Rather than about suppressing and oppressing this helps readers find room for coherence and resilience allowing us to grow and feel with somatic healing methods.

Truly ground-breaking thinking th
...more
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For over twenty years, Resmaa Menakem MSW LICSW SEP has worked with people facing difficult life circumstances. Resmaa has demonstrated that working within a ecological systemic paradigm to aid people in addressing issues is the most productive way to help challenge,resolve and confront important problems in our relationships and ourselves.

With this in mind, Resmaa created RESMAA ROCKS
...more
“In today’s America, we tend to think of healing as something binary: either we’re broken or we’re healed from that brokenness. But that’s not how healing operates, and it’s almost never how human growth works. More often, healing and growth take place on a continuum, with innumerable points between utter brokenness and total health.” 3 likes
“A key factor in the perpetuation of white-body supremacy is many people’s refusal to experience clean pain around the myth of race. Instead, usually out of fear, they choose the dirty pain of silence and avoidance and, invariably, prolong the pain.” 2 likes
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