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

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4.44  ·  Rating details ·  3,445 ratings  ·  478 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 gene
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Paperback, 300 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Central Recovery Press (first published August 21st 2017)
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Cathy Sweeney have you already had the book club discussion? I just finished the book and am thinking about crafting a short discussion questions/guide.
Brad Have you tried tweeting a direct message to the Author, @rmenakem , asking for suggestions on how to use the book in group settings. Given his backgro…moreHave you tried tweeting a direct message to the Author, @rmenakem , asking for suggestions on how to use the book in group settings. Given his background I would not be surprised if he does not have something already. (less)

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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 supremacy
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Leila
Mar 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I had been so excited to finally find a book about trauma that talked about the ways that racism and systemic oppression inflict trauma, and this book was a starting point but not fully there. If you can get past the cop apologia (his brother is a cop, and he trains police departments), the offensive language (e.g. “yellow bodies” and “red bodies”), some fatphobia, and the whole concept of “police bodies,” there are a lot of gems in here — particularly in part 2. There are specific breathing exe ...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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"A calm, settled body is the foundation for health, for healing, for helping others, and for changing the world."

I’ve been reading this book s-l-o-w-l-y because the author wants the reader to stop and actually do the practices. There is a lot here about dealing with racialized trauma, not only for individuals but within communities. Specific practices are for black people, and others for white people. There are several chapters about rethinking how police are trained to deal with trauma as well.
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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
Tichana  (The Book Hobbit)
**** 2.25 Stars ****

My Grandmother's Hands was an interesting book about racialized trauma and its effects on our bodies.
While the concept of the book sounds brilliant, I was a bit disappointed with its content.
-The book is divided in 3 parts. The first part is pretty much Resmaa Menakem stating the same thing over and over and preparing the reader for what his book is going to be about. I found this to be unnecessary and a waste of time. I just wanted him to get to the point. There was n
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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
Eli
Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm real tempted to justify my whole two-star review by simply reporting that the author advocates police officers taking bubble baths as a significant part of the solution to police brutality.

But there's more to talk about. So here's the long version.

I wanted so badly to like this. The premise of this book is really deeply compelling. Unfortunately the author doesn't elaborate much on his initial ideas, beyond compiling other people's work and not explaining it very well. He indicates concepts
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Anne Phyfe
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
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BookChampions
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfic
How are you still doing the work of dismantling racism?
.
My summer of learning comes to a close, and on Monday, I begin a school year marked by remote teaching. So I couldn't be happier with my last book of the summer. Since this book is on backorder just about everywhere, I had to settle for the audiobook.

Ever since hearing Resmaa Menakem in conversation with Krista Tippett for her *on being* podcast (twice!), I knew I had to read this book. Menakem proposes that we'll not achieve racial healing
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Cris
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: racial-justice
It’s weird to me that so many activists quote this book that tells us we must be BOTH pro black and pro police. 1/3 of the book is like about how police should do yoga, put black children on their laps, and the like to live up to their potential as community hero’s. At the same time he doesn’t completely skim over our current reality either, but it’s very inconsistent across the book in terms of the view of police officers and culture change that we get.

Does anyone really think cops are the prim
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Mehrsa
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
While I have to admit that I did not do any of the body exercises, I absolutely loved this book. I listened to Resmaa's interview with Krista Tippett and was blown away by his insights about racial trauma and the body. It seems so right to me and the book was just really good in showing how one might help heal that. It's not a scientific book, but you can read "the body keeps the score" as a background text with some of the more scientific background, but this book is meant to be acted on and I ...more
Ankur Singh
May 02, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is fine I guess....it raises alot of important questions about how to heal from trauma which are def worthwhile, but also at one point he suggests that white people can fight white supremacy by naming their kids after black Civil rights leaders and idkkkkk about that. Plus it's very police need better training. So read with a grain of salt ...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
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Alma
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Would recommend this book to everyone who reposted that quote on insta about the trauma white people hold in a white supremacist society, therapists, and anyone who liked the body keeps the score (so therapists). Really I would recommend this book to everyone I know, if they were willing to read it.

I think this book provided a really nuanced view of racial and intergenerational trauma, and the trauma of living in our unhealthy society for a variety of different populations (white, black, and po
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A. Breeze Harper
Excellent trauma-informed analysis of antiBlack racism & healing

This book was a great and informative read. I appreciated the approach of using trauma-informed practices to understand how racial healing is most likely only possible once everyone engages in the process of “clean pain” vs. “dirty pain.”
Liz Castle
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Life changing read, as a white reader (author mostly addresses white and black readers). Several mind-blowing moments, especially the theory that white Americans still carry intergenerational trauma from the Middle Ages in Europe, and that this unhealed trauma fuels racism in America. The root of that trauma is a deep fear of powerful white people, and healing that fear is a necessary step towards liberation for us all. There are body healing practices sprinkled throughout the book that are usef ...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 underclasses throughout the ...more
Elena
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was ok
Ooh, wow, this book is kind of a mess. I can't in good conscience recommend it... there's just so much that felt very "off" to me. I definitely DO NOT recommend reading it if you're in favor of abolishing the police. The author's brother is a cop and the author seems to make a living doing various "trainings" with cops. There are some really wild suggestions in the book... the author suggests community organizers cozy up to cops and actually offer to WASH THEIR FEET. He also talks about how cops ...more
Kat
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2021
I had trouble rating this, because I don’t think it’s for everyone - I personally had a hard time reconciling the idea of trying to come from a place of a settled body when it comes to the cops in particular. It’s hard to believe that addressing racialized trauma through training and therapy can dismantle the murderous structures and racism ingrained in US policing.

But still, as a white person fighting to unlearn generations of racism, I found it extraordinarily helpful and valuable to tap into
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Elizabeth Schroeder
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I like reviews that have pull-out quotes from the book folks have just finished. With this book, I flagged so many quotes, I would've almost been transcribing chapters at a time -- so I'll just share my review!

This powerful book is part educational experience, part healing journey. It is written by a Black cis-male therapist, Resmaa Menakem, who has expertise in helping people heal from trauma. The main focus is that the trauma caused by racism goes back generations and lives in our bodies; ther
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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 sensitive book explores t
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Mike
May 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Major disappointment

The author knows about trauma and trauma therapy. He has also experienced racism. However, he decided not to research racism and issues surrounding it, but relying only on his personal experience and popular notions. If he had stuck to what he knows, he could have written a shorter and more effective book.

As it stands, he wrote a book that excuses white people from their responsibility in white supremacy social systems by individualizing racism as an epigenetic history of bio
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Chelsea Tobin
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books where you are one person prior to reading it, and another person once you’ve finished reading it. The kind of book that crawls inside you and stays there. Is there anything more important than doing the inner & outer work needed to live in right community on this planet? I don’t think so. Read this book. We all need you to.

(Note: not as radical as I’d like / some cop apologizing and fat phobia. Gave it 5 stars because I want folks to read it but pls note those disclaim
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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!
Apollo Grace
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. It gave me a rich new way to understand and think about how racism operates, in the world and also in my own body. Menakem is a Black author, and a trauma therapist; but he writes with both clarity and compassion for three distinct audiences in this book - Black Americans, White Americans, and American Police (of whatever ethnicity).

I took a while to read the book; he's very emphatic about stopping and taking time to engage in a series of practices he provides. I just w
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Courtney Stewart
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an outstanding exploration of anti-racism and trauma. The author is a trained therapist who dives into discussion of history, historical trauma (including that experienced by our ancestors which is stored in our DNA), and the need to acknowledge both in the path to healing. Both history and trauma must be acknowledged so that racial reckoning may occur. The trauma stored in the body must be faced to prevent continued offloading of trauma. The book discusses experiences for white and blac ...more
Manisha
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“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.”

Must read book.
Laura (booksnob)
My Grandmother's Hands is the best book I read in 2020. After George Floyd was killed blocks from the high school where I teach, a group. of teachers decided to read this together and discuss several chapters at a time. This book taught me more than any other book I read this year surrounding racialized violence and trauma. I highly recommend this book. I'm keeping to revisit and reread and to remember all that I've learned and will continue to learn. Resmaa Menakem, thank you for writing this b ...more
Vinícius
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bestof
took me a while to read it because I wasn't ready. Oh but worth it getting back to it. ...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. As a natio
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“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.” 9 likes
“Recent studies and discoveries increasingly point out that we heal primarily in and through the body, not just through the rational brain. We can all create more room, and more opportunities for growth, in our nervous systems. But we do this primarily through what our bodies experience and do—not through what we think or realize or cognitively figure out.” 5 likes
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