By Madison Lotenschtein
Trauma can be a hard word to define. It could mean experiencing combat, being abused physically or emotionally, or seeing water and fire in places where there should not be water or fire. After experiencing trauma, one is in need of healing, healing of the body and healing of the heart.
Resmaa Menakem, the author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, will read from his latest book on healing at Prairie Lights, 15 S. Dubuque St., at 7 p.m. today.
Menakem is the author of Rock the Boat and Life, Leadership, and Legacy. He lives in Minneapolis, where he is a private-practice therapist and holds workshops on cultural somatics for African American audiences, police officers, and European-Americans.
My Grandmother’s Hands is not a memoir or a novel, but a book about human genes, history, trauma, and race. The book will address the cause of racial cultural divide, the white-body supremacy, and how to heal our culture.
“My Grandmother’s Hands helps us begin to understand and heal from the trauma many of us have either suppressed or felt helpless about,” he said.
Being a professional healer and trauma specialist, Menakem was inspired by all his clients, whether they were persons of color or not. All felt lost, small, or pushed back by the trauma they had endured.
“Over the years, I came to see that the source of much of this trauma was white-body supremacy,” Menakem said. “I also saw that this trauma went way back, through many generations. Eventually, I came to see that this inherited trauma didn’t begin with slavery but with the punishments that powerful white bodies inflicted on less powerful white bodies in Europe during the Middle Ages.”
Menakem refers to the white supremacy as the white-body supremacy, and if the people keep saying it is a mentality, white supremacy will never end. He believes that it is residing in all human bodies, in every color. The white-body supremacy lives where we live, hence why it cannot be taught through education or in large discussions.
“White-body supremacy cannot be fixed, or cast out, or vanquished,” Menakem said. “It can only be healed, body by body. That is the purpose of my book.”
The author also wrote My Grandmother’s Hands for personal reasons.
“I wanted to understand why I experienced a nagging sense of defectiveness,” he said. “Needed to discover the deeper meaning behind my grandmother’s humming. And I wanted to create something to leave my children — and America’s children — so they don’t have to do what I’m doing at age 50.”
He did not write the book for fun and games, nor to forge a career as a successful author. He writes so other people can heal and live happier lives. He plans on only publishing books that aid humanity’s process of healing itself in some imperative way.