As a psychologist who works primarily with individuals in marginalized communities, I see a lot of clients who have experienced historical, intergenerational, developmental and ongoing current trauma, often as a result of systems of oppression (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.). I was very excited to dive into training in somatic experiencing (SE), a "bottom up" approach to trauma treatment that recognizes the ways that traumatic experiences get stored in the body, and therefore need to be healed through the body.
However, I was disappointed to find that most of the books on SE, as well as the trainings themselves, rarely if ever mention racism or other systems of oppression and the trauma they cause. This was such a disappointment to me, especially given that racial trauma is so prevalent in the everyday lives of my clients and perpetuated daily by the current political climate.
Therefore I was thrilled to discover this book. Resmaa Menakem filled in the gap I was feeling in the SE literature, applying somatic experiencing to racial trauma and the ways that racism impacts the bodies of white people, black people (and all people of color), and those who are charged with "serving and protecting" us, the police. This book was a huge eye opener for me. Not only did it give me compassion for my own white body and the ways that trauma has been metabolized and passed on from white folks to POC through the mechanisms of white supremacy, but it gave me new and more embodied ways to understand the lives of people of color and work effectively with my POC clients. It also gave me new compassion for cops, who, through their own trauma responses and the effects of white supremacy, are now more like soldiers whose mission is to control and suppress black and brown bodies. Although I will continue to feel outrage and grief at every unnecessary police killing of an innocent man or woman of color, this book helped me to remember that we are all impacted by centuries of white supremacy conditioning and that cops need and deserve healing around racial trauma too.
I highly recommend this book to therapists and healers, especially those who work with individuals in marginalized communities. Each chapter provides exercises to embody the learning in the chapter, so that healing is happening not just from the top down, but from the bottom up. There are exercises for individuals and groups, for white bodies, POC bodies and police bodies. The book is extremely timely and relevant and should be required reading for anyone wanting to understand more about the history and current conditions of racism in America, its impacts, and how to heal.