I seldom write about or even read books about therapy, but this book talked about trauma in terms of race referring to it as White Supremacy Trauma and Black Body Trauma. Now I do not agree with some of his premise that trauma can be carried in our genes, but he did make a case for historical trauma covering some of the ways in which we treated ourselves over our history. Much of the book deals with therapy that is designed to help those suffering from trauma. One of the things I enjoyed is in reading different therapy exercises to help people suffering from trauma.
He opens the book talking about his grandmother's hands who he found rough and calluses, because she had picked cotton her entire life. If you have never picked cotton, there are thorns and other pieces of the cotton bulb that cut flesh. This acted not only as the title of the book, but a metaphor of how trauma can scar a person for life. This is no secret since we are gaining an understanding of how trauma works on the human mind, In the four hundred years of oppression from slavery to Jim Crow to negative interactions with law authorities, we have some work to do to reverse the negative attitudes resulting from a history of oppression. He speaks about how in social situations the presence of black body can threaten the white supremacy bodies. In referring to the White Supremacy Bodies, he is not referring to the organizations that advocate white supremacy, he is talking about the social power position where whites have always been in power. He speaks of history that predates slavery where the social construct was white on white supremacy in European history.
Solving this is going to take work where both races have to be of a "peaceful mind" when facing adversity instead of immediately responding to fear. He speaks of the pathways to "mending our hearts" so that we can achieve the harmony. What I like was he highlighted some of the therapeutic methods black print on gray pages to show some exercises to accommodate this therapy. At the end of each chapter, he used bullet statements to go over the main points of the chapter. This makes the book a usable reference for those working in this type of trauma.
He did spend about eight chapters talking about police-African American relations which have been a focal point of the media attention over the past ten years. The history is a lot longer, but he spoke of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and others who have been victims of police deadly force. This book predates the George Floyd incident where Officer Chavan had his knee on the suspects neck for over nine minutes until, unable to breathe, George Floyd passed out an could not be revived. While police often have good intentions and are very professional, they are human beings who are sometimes called upon to make split second decisions. He suggests using some therapy exercises to put the police officers in a more peaceful state of mind.
My Grandmother's Hands was a very worthwhile read as it provided solutions to some of the problems we are facing today. The strength of this book is Resmaa using his experience in the field to offer a variety of ways to work through the problem. While I did not agree with everything in this book, I did see the value of where he was coming from and how in order to heart we must learn to mend out hearts and bodies if we are ever going to have hope of reaching the equality of all that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed about fifty years ago.