A NATIONAL BESTSELLER
"My Grandmother's Hands will change the direction of the movement for racial justice."— Robin DiAngelo, New York Times bestselling author of White Fragility
In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology.
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.
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 healing process based on the latest neuroscience and somatic healing methods, 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This powerful guide to healing from the trauma of racism begins with understanding that its wounds aren’t just emotional—they’re also physical. As therapist Resmaa Menakem explains, we’re all victims of emotional violence, and people of color in particular have absorbed centuries of pain into their very bones. Drawing on the collective wisdom of societal elders as well as his own therapy experiences, Menakem leads us through mindfulness exercises that help us understand how both Black and white Americans have been affected by generations of damaging hatred as victims, perpetrators, and witnesses. We were amazed by the idea that healing our own trauma can help us create a more equitable society and appreciated the way Menakem sensitively describes—always without judgment or blame—how centuries of white supremacy have shaped us all. His straightforward mental and physical exercises helped us start to shed our own internalized pain. Both useful and hopeful, My Grandmother’s Hands shows us a potential path forward.
Sensitive and probing, this book from therapist Menakem delves into the complex effects of racism and white privilege. Departing from standard academic approaches, he speaks from the wisdom of his grandmother and his own expertise in somatic therapy, a field that emphasizes the mind-body connection. Trauma, both present-day and historical, forms the cornerstone of Menakem's analysis. He writes that race is a "myth something made up in the 17th century," with the concepts of whiteness and racial superiority nonetheless now "essential facts of life, like birth, death and gravity." The result is that both black and white people are traumatized with fear of the racial other and with the "dirty pain of avoidance, blame, and denial." At the outset, Menakem implores readers to "experience" his book in their bodies. To this end, bodycentric activities, such as breath exercises, are described throughout. Menakem emphasizes body mindfulness, helping readers move from unhealthy reflexive responses to traumatic emotions to the conscious experience of "clean pain," which involves directly facing such emotions and thereby getting past them. Menakem is specific when directing his messages. "To all my white readers," he says, "welcome... let's get to work." To law-enforcement officers he gives the same welcome. And to African-Americans, he offers counsel and highlights the value of their experiences.