Resma Menakem

By Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

Renown therapist Resmaa Menakem has just launched a free online series empowering individuals and communities to address and heal from race-based trauma.

Studies continue to show that African Americans suffer more mental health problems than their White counterparts. And, much of the problems are attributed to racial microaggressions — from overt racial discrimination to over racism. Yet, Black people are the least likely to seek treatment and when they do, most therapists aren’t trained to deal in race-based trauma.

Enter Menakem, MSW, LICSQ, SEP, who specializes in race-based trauma work, addressing conflict, and body-centered healing. “The most important thing for me is that my people get a chance to understand that they’re not defective and that something happened and continues to happen to their people and to their bodies,” Menakem told the MSR.

“And that a lot of that experience that we don’t have a language for can be the result of trauma that happened in other generations.”

The five-day course, which features five 15-minute videos, begins by defining and exploring the basics of racial trauma. “We can’t help ourselves even begin to heal racialized trauma if we don’t acknowledge that it even exists,” said Menakem.

While his work centers primarily on mental health issues, Menakem defines racial trauma as a physical, rather than emotional, response. It is essentially an interactive extension of his latest book, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies, which focuses on how the physical nature of trauma impacts not just our minds, but our bodies as well and how that is passed down through generations.

The remaining four days focus on specific body traumas amongst Black people, including how the history of enslavement continues to affect the Black body today; White body trauma and the impact of White supremacy, along with the impact of stress on police and the general community.

“The video piece is my way of getting to people who aren’t able to sit down and read a 275-page book. You don’t necessarily have to have five years of therapy in order to heal,” he said. “[With this], people can begin to grapple with some of these pieces and affirm some of the things around them and maybe start on the journey on what to do to heal.”

Menakem added that true healing must come from self work.

We can’t hid or run from it, we have to lean into it,” he explained. “White folks ain’t going to do it for us and they can’t do it for us,” said Menakem.

“They shouldn’t do it for us. They have to do their own work.”

The North Minneapolis resident referenced two shooting deaths this past Sunday — one in Minneapolis on Highway 55 and the death of rapper/activist Nipsey Hussle on Sunday — as even more reason for communities to educate themselves on how to deal with trauma.

“Our people have so much pain that is unaddressed that we end up destroying people that look like us,” he said. “There is a sanctioned annihilation in this society that has said it is okay to destroy Black bodies. We’ve internalized that piece and just ripped each other apart.

“It also happened to us as a collective and we have to begin to develop collective ways of moving and reclaiming pieces that were stripped from us,” he continued. “This course is really about us beginning to look at these pieces and beginning to bring language and context to it so we don’t keep ripping each other’s throats out.”

For more information or to sign up for the free 5-Day Racialized Trauma eCourse, visit http://resmaa.com.

This article originally appeared in Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. 

Local therapist launches free video course to address racialized trauma

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