The Cultural Landscape of Trauma

In this episode of The Living Experiment, Pilar interviews a special guest — clinical therapist and author Resmaa Menakem.

They talk about the broad and vitally important, social and racial landscape of trauma — from the effect it has on us as individuals to the impact it has on our communities and society.

Resmaa’s most recent book, My Grandmother’s Hands, explores themes of ancestral and racialized trauma, topics informed by his personal and familial experiences, as well as his professional clinical expertise.

They speak directly to five brutalities that have defined America from 1492 to the present day (colonialism, enslavement, genocide, imperialism and land theft), and how they became the seeds upon which our entire culture is built.

And they look closely at the importance of understanding white body supremacy in order to abolish it, and part of that is seeing that “it’s not the shark; it’s the water”

Resmaa’s insights are also informed by a broad array of cross-cultural explorations, including two tours in Afghanistan as a military contractor. He has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and Dr. Phil as an expert on conflict and violence. Menakem has studied with bestselling authors Dr. David Schnarch (Passionate Marriage) and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk (The Body Keeps the Score). He also trained at Peter Levine’s Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute.

Resmaa’s teachings are relevant to anyone who has experienced any kind of trauma, which, as he points out, is all of us. So here, they talk about the lasting impacts trauma leaves on our bodies, hearts and minds, as well as our families, communities and societies.

We also talk about what it takes to heal trauma’s current wounds, as well as its legacies of pain and depression, and we leave you with some experiments to help you better recognize and resolve the sources of trauma in your own life.

If you’re interested in how we can begin to heal ourselves and our society, this conversation with Resmaa is really worth a listen.

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