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 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 people, the term white supremacy can feel very extreme and un-relatable. I find the way that Somatic Experiencing Therapist and author, Resmaa Menakem, adds to the term to be very useful – he suggests we approach 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
It can be a profoundly uncomfortable, intense, painful, messy, horrifying process to honestly examine, fully feel and reckon with how 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 incredibly impactful and informative in my process of awakening to the truth of U.S. history, white-body supremacy and anti-racist embodiment.
I will keep adding to these resources, so please feel free to check back for updates.
“Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”
The Traumatic Roots of White Body Supremacy and Racism in America – Resmaa Menakem
Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome – Dr. Joy Degruy
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo 2017 Diversity Summit
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
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
“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us. We are our history.”
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
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.”
SOMATIC ANTIRACISM WORK
My partner, Dan Gaustad is a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (SEP).
He also provides Somatic Experiencing sessions via Zoom (and in person when possible) for white-bodied individuals and white-bodied somatic therapists wanting to work on issues of white body supremacy and embodiment of racial justice.
Dan’s work places an emphasis on embodied inquiry into personal and collective implicit biases. Through this lens, he encourages individuals to know themselves within the context of culture and society and in relation to inherited social structures.