Personal Introduction To These Resources...
Feminist scholar and cultural critic, bell hooks, names the culture in which we live as not only a patriarchal (male dominated) culture, but more specifically, a patriarchy with interlocking systems of domination – an imperialist/colonialist, white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy.
In the United States, we are all born into this conditioning, and it is clear that it requires wholehearted, sustained effort to clearly recognize and understand the ways in which we have been socialized to perceive, think, feel and behave.
Being born into a white body, I am working to understand (lifelong!) the conditioning that comes with whiteness and how white-bodied people have been socialized to uphold white-supremacy/white dominance (often without even being conscious that we are doing so, which can make it even harder to see and comprehend – like fish in water).
For some white folks, the term white supremacy can feel very extreme and unrelatable. I find the way that Somatic Therapist and Author, Resmaa Menakem, adds to the term to be very useful – he suggests approaching it as white-body supremacy. In this culture, simply being born into a white body gives the white body superiority and advantage.
In this culture:
“The white body is the supreme standard by which all bodies’ humanity shall be measured.” –Resmaa Menakem
I find it to be a profoundly uncomfortable, intense, painful, messy, horrifying process to honestly examine, deeply feel and reckon with how I’ve/we’ve been socialized to embody and live out white-body supremacy.
When I first began to really sense into this, I felt paralyzed, like a deer in headlights, and my mind went blank (for quite a while).
It was and continues to be through rigorous education – unlearning and relearning US history, reading books and articles, watching videos and films, listening to talks and podcasts, having countless conversations with others – and through ongoing embodied work with a somatic therapist – that the frozen shame, guilt, fear, horror, grief, rage and unconscious attachment to comfort that had kept me immobilized and dissociated began and continues to metabolize.
This process is ongoing. Lifelong. As a white person, humility, a deep desire to do less harm and developing the capacity to stand the heat feel core to this transformation.
My astrological work with clients embraces this process of understanding ourselves as part of the culture we are born into and the conditioning that accompanies that reality. Evolutionary Astrology is rooted in the potential that human beings have the capacity to evolve beyond our social conditioning.
In order for this to happen, the ways in which we have been socialized must be recognized and understood.
Below are some of the resources that have been and continue to be impactful and informative in my process of reckoning with the truth of U.S. history and how white-body supremacy operates in my being, both individually, in my lineage and systemically.
I will keep adding to these resources, so please feel free to check back for updates.
“Where we are born into privilege, we are charged with dismantling any myth of supremacy. Where we are born into struggle, we are charged with claiming our dignity, joy, and liberation.”
“The history of the United States is a history of settler colonialism – the founding state based on the ideology of white supremacy, the widespread practice of African slavery and a policy of genocide and land theft.”
They Have to Kill Us – Neon Nativez
Hesapa – A Landback Film (5 mins)
A 5-minute interview on Democracy Now with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Historian/Author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States”)
What Racism Is – Toni Morrison
The Traumatic Roots of White Body Supremacy and Racism in America – Resmaa Menakem
Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome – Dr. Joy Degruy
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
Birth of a White Nation – Dr. Jacqueline Battalora
Spotlight on Black Trauma and Policing – MPR Interview (Angela Davis) with Dr. Brittany Lewis, Resmaa Menakem and Justin Terrell
The Importance of Critical Thinking – bell hooks (1997)
White Fragility and Whiteness as a Trauma Response – Philippe Matthews interviews Resmaa Menakem, Robin DiAngelo and Jacqueline Battalora
Facing Whiteness – Heather Hackman
“Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”
PODCASTS / AUDIO SERIES
1619 Project – hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones
“The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.”
Intersectionality Matters! with Kimberlé Crenshaw founder of the “Say Her Name” campaign
All My Relations – “All My Relations is a team of folks who care about representations, and how Native peoples are represented in mainstream media. Each episode invites guests to delve into a different topic facing Native peoples today as we keep it real, play games, laugh a lot, and even cry sometimes.”
Media Indigena – “Since its launch back in 2010, my goal with MEDIA INDIGENA has been to share the stories I wanted to see and hear as an Indigenous person, in the way I wanted to see and hear them.” –Rick Harp, host of this current affairs roundtable podcast
ARTICLES & ESSAYS
“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States – Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Me and White Supremacy – Layla Saad
How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi
A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross
Birth of a White Nation: The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today – Jacqueline Battalora
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower – Brittney Cooper
Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates
Coates writes this book for his 15 year old son about what it’s like to grow up black in America.
“One of the great virtues of Coates’ book is that it is not addressed to white people. The usual hedging and filtering and softening and overall distortion that seems to happen automatically — even unconsciously — when black people attempt to speak about race to white people in public is absent.” (excerpt from a NYT review)
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America – Richard Rothstein
Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi
“How then can US society come to terms with its past? How can it acknowledge responsibility? …That process rightfully starts by honoring the treaties the United States made with Indigenous nations, by restoring all sacred sites, starting with the Black Hills and including most federally held parks and land and all stolen sacred items and body parts, and by payment of sufficient reparations for the reconstruction and expansion of Native nations. In the process, the continent will be radically reconfigured, physically and psychologically. For the future to be realized, it will require extensive educational programs and the full support and active participation of the descendants of settlers, enslaved Africans, and colonized Mexicans, as well as immigrant populations.”
An excerpt from “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies” (p. 4-5) by Resmaa Menakem:
“For the past three decades, we’ve earnestly tried to address white-body supremacy in America with reason, principles and ideas – using dialogue, forums, discussions, education and mental training. But, the widespread destruction of Black bodies continues. And, some of the ugliest destruction originates with our police.
Why is there such a chasm between our well-intentioned attempts to heal and the ever-growing number of dark-skinned bodies who are killed or injured, sometimes by police officers?
It’s not that we’ve been lazy or insincere. But, we’ve focused our efforts in the wrong direction. We’ve tried to teach our brains to think better about race. But, white-body supremacy doesn’t live in our thinking brains. It lives and breathes in our bodies.
Our bodies have a form of knowledge that is different from our cognitive brains. This knowledge is typically experienced as a felt sense of constriction or expansion, pain or ease, energy or numbness. Often this knowledge is stored in our bodies as wordless stories about what is safe and what is dangerous. The body is where we fear, hope and react; where we constrict and release; and where we reflexively fight, flee or freeze. If we are to upend the status quo of white-body supremacy, we must begin with our bodies.”
Hollaback! Free Bystander Intervention Trainings (Ex: To Stop Anti-Asian/American Harassment and Xenophobia +/or To Stop Police Sponsored Violence and Anti-Black Racist Harassment)