My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies
“an extremely interesting approach and a much-needed paradigm shift in the treatment of racialized trauma . . .”
The title of this book My Grandmother’s Hands comes from the author’s memory and later recognition of the racialized trauma embodied and embedded in his grandmother’s hands. “She wasn’t a large woman but her hands were surprisingly stout, with broad fingers and thick pads below each thumb.” As she explained “That’s from picking cotton. They been that way since before I was your age. I started working in the fields sharecroppin’ when I was four.”
The book addresses the issue of white supremacy in America and the trauma it inflicts on African Americans (“the Black body”), Americans of European descent (“the white body”); and “police bodies,” which stands for the bodies of law enforcement professionals regardless of their color.
Resmaa Menakem who is “a healer, and a therapist, not a philosopher or literary stylist” maintains that while we will continue to battle racism through reason, principles and ideas this is insufficient to address the real seats of the problem where it lies embedded in our “soul brain” and “lizard nerves.”
He believes that trauma is passed through families by abuse; through unsafe structures, institutions, and cultural norms; and through our genes as is being revealed through recent work on epigenetics.
The therapies and behavioral changes (often very minute), which he proposes for each of the three groups addressed, aims to heal the trauma by “fostering resilience in our bodies and plasticity in our brains.” His hope is that through reading the book in whole or in part readers will create a “little extra room in your nervous system for flow, for resilience for coherence, for growth and above all, for possibility.”
This is an extremely interesting approach and a much-needed paradigm shift in the treatment of racialized trauma for all groups who are participants in the process.