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Race and The Body: Why Somatic Practices Are Essential for Racial Justice

This essay also appears in the issue “The Necessity of Including Embodiment and Lineage in Racial Justice Work” (Volume 6, Number 1). Click here to subscribe and download the entire issue


“Within this fathom-long body and mind is found all of the teachings.” – The Buddha

But all our phrasing—race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy—serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, breaks teeth. You must never look away from this. You must always remember that the sociology, the history, the economics, the graphs, the charts, the regressions all land, with great violence, upon the body.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates1

You’ve been invited to be part of a think tank to discuss how an organization that’s important to you can adjust its infrastructure, culture, and practices to be more equitable and racially inclusive. You arrive eager to begin the work of dismantling the structural racism that’s thwarting the organization’s potential for positive impact. At the first meeting, a woman of color you have not seen before steps up to lead the conversation. Notebooks are out and pens are in hand. You can almost hear the hum of action items to come, and you and your mostly white colleagues are ready. The stakes are high. If this team can’t get this right, it means losing more people. It means resources and a message you believe in won’t reach marginalized populations. It means your organization won’t be enriched by the voices of the diverse many. This must end. You can tackle this thing!

“You can put away your pens and notebooks,” the woman says. “We’ll begin this dialogue by being in our bodies.” You look around at your colleagues. Some eagerly put their things away while others look to each other with a quizzical glance. What thoughts run through your mind? Excitement? Fear? Incredulousness? Something in-between? What do you imagine happens next in the room?

I’ve been this woman of color in front of a mostly white audience encouraging us to come into our bodies around racial justice work, and here’s what I’ve experienced:

  1. Revolt. The most empowered in the group challenge a decision (especially from an unknown woman of color) to start a serious conversation about structural racism with embodiment. The typical sentiment is some version of “we don’t have time for this.”
  2. Break time. Participants decide it’s a good time for a break. People go and make phone calls, head outside for fresh air or find a couch to nap on. Having been in previous meetings where embodiment practices were the fluff sandwiched between the “real” meeting, this work is not seen as “the work.”
  3. Reluctant participation. There’s a sense that if we’re going to take time away from the meeting for body stuff, then its usefulness better be made apparent—and soon. The embodiment practices and their worthiness are judged using the cognitive, linear model that deems the worthiness of any idea in our society. If embodiment doesn’t square itself into this frame, or if we don’t immediately make connections to the task at hand that help us get to our goal, it is deemed a waste a time.
  4. Jumping in. Some people eagerly jump in. I’m happy to say that in every space I’ve invited folks to be in their body, from corporate offices to Buddhist sanghas, there is always at least one person who seems eager to do so. Thank goddess for this, as it’s a reminder that embodied learners (who are often starved for this kind of teaching) show up in the most unexpected places.

Does any of this sound familiar?

The thing is, racism is about bodies. It’s a reality that can be tasted, seen, and felt. The restrictions to access to nutritious food and adequate healthcare; the over-policing of low-income neighborhoods and profiling of Black and brown bodies; the insecurity of being excluded from voting booths, good schools, good jobs, “good” hair, property ownership, business loans, media portrayals of success, and more all land, as author Ta-Nehisi Coates has named, as physical and psychological blows to the body.

When we are witness to these actions, a pain is felt in the body. When we are perpetrators of oppression, our own pain is the genesis of our actions. As Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed reminds us, people who cause pain are in pain themselves.2 How is it possible, then, to undo the results of this dis-ease without first addressing the root? Not only is including the body essential in our work towards racial justice, it is the primary path forward.

Writes Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies:

“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.… 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.”3

Dis-Connection

Racism is about bodies, but as a bi-racial Black girl who grew up in Utah, this was not readily apparent to me. In truth, I hadn’t considered the physicality of discrimination in my own life until I devoured Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, where this physicality is so honestly and vividly conveyed. As I read, I felt a curiosity arise in my own body. What was my physical experience of racism? The violence, ineffective schools, and codes of the streets that Coates describes of the Baltimore neighborhood of his youth was not my reality. I grew up in the suburbs. I was a cheerleader. Neighbors brought over bunts and peanut brittle during the holidays.

Seemingly buffered from the harshness of the hood, my ruminations on racism were nil. White privilege? My 14-year-old self had never considered such a thing. Plugged into the larger social consciousness of my white community, I often forgot I was Black. Race relations? No problems here! Everyone gets along. Everyone is white.

Except, we weren’t.

Racism didn’t show up in my white upper-middle class neighborhood the way it did for Coates. It was subtle, sneaky, and innocently sure of itself.

It was the planted false rumors that the (only) other Black kid at my school and I had a crush on each other.

It was being told with full conviction that I was on the Devil’s side.

It was being asked if I was in a gang.

It was my best friend singing the N-Word on our routine walk home from school, because “it was such a funny sounding word.”

It was a neighbor, after learning that my Black father’s family all lived nearby, asking, “How many of you are there?”

It was never getting asked to a school dance.

It was the endless requests to touch my curly hair and questions of how I got it “like that.”

But I didn’t see any of this as racism. It was just life. And the cost of my Blackness—years spent in silent psychological prostration to one day be good enough—was not something I realized I was paying.

While overt acts of racial oppression and physical violence certainly must end, it’s this sneaky, subtler form of discrimination—what Rev. angel Kyodo williams names “a kinder, gentler form of suffering”—that, because of its pervasiveness, I believe is truly the most dangerous. Like a noxious fume that we’re breathing in and exhaling on each other, this kind of othering not only infiltrates our everyday lives but in fact structures our own belonging. “To be othered is to be denied the fullness of one’s humanity. It’s about reminding people, either by the barriers we put up in social spaces or the barriers to opportunities to advance our well-being, about saying through words or actions, that ‘you’re not one of us,’” observes Wizdom Powell.4

We know racism is bad. We know othering is bad. I can’t name a single individual in my sphere who doesn’t believe that they’re doing their part to address these social issues. And yet, petrified of “not belonging” to the group of “woke” do-gooders with whom we identify, we continue to embody and play by the rules of the very systems perpetrating the harmful patterns we detest. This is because conventional activism means “going along” with our social conditioning. It is approaching our organizing in a linear, conceptual, future-oriented way without prioritizing feeling and the here and now. It’s sitting at the table trying to use the tools of patriarchy and capitalism to “win”, when really what’s needed is standing and upending it all. The body brings us to this reality if we’re brave enough to listen.

Re-Connection

If racism is about bodies, why are we so reluctant to bring the wisdom of the body into the conversation? I believe that it’s because the body can bring us to truths we may not be interested in receiving. It can show us that the inequities baked into a system are so entrenched within us that the only path forward requires dismantling who we think we are. It can lead us to look squarely at the fact that by supporting and abiding in a system that we know is not equitable, in some ways we benefit—and those benefits makes us feel good and safe. The body asks us to look at the places that are pained due to personal, interpersonal, and collective traumas. It says, this is true. This is happening. This is honest.

In my own life, my body has brought me to inconvenient truths over and over again. These truths challenge my sense of self and rock my version of reality.

On my 34th birthday, I held a party at an event space in an area of Oakland with a large un-housed population. It’s common in this space for people from the community to come inside, ask if they can use the bathroom, and request something to eat. Those in the space typically oblige before sending folks on their way. On my birthday, my guests were beginning to arrive. I was happy, flitting about greeting friends and dancing to songs from a well-curated playlist. A Hispanic gentleman came in whom I did not know. He had food on his clothes and was wearing well-worn sneakers. He scanned the space clearly looking for something.

My stomach clenched with embarrassment at the sight of this man. I made myself bigger to protect my friends from having to “deal” with him. I felt a flash of anger that he had barged in uninvited, and I moved to intercept him, eager to see him on his way. All of this unfolded in an instant.

As I approached, the man turned, “Are you Kelsey,” he asked. “Yes,” I responded surprised. “I have the taco platter you ordered. Where would you like it?” Defenses now down, I became overly polite and accommodating. I offered to bring in the food for him. I asked him to join us for a taco. I assured him that I’d be recommending his company to all my friends. Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, my flowery words were my attempt to mask my guilt. My own biases had taken control, and my conceptual brain was in ego-repair mode. The man, whose name I never got, brought in my order and met my guilty appreciation with extra heaping bowls of salsa, chips, limes, and onion. I smiled, but inside felt terrible.

I—a person of color who actively creates spaces for other people of color, who studies othering and belonging, who is dedicated to embodiment and mindfulness practices to help us explore how we perpetuate systems of harm—had by a glance and an ensuing feeling of discomfort classified this brown man as “other”; he was someone I would be inconvenienced by, someone to be dismissed. I may hold myself as a woke, racial justice warrior, but in that moment my body communicated that something else was also true.

The body does not lie. We may do all the work in the world to conceptualize a more inclusive way of being in relationship, but until that vision is grounded in our body, our dreams will continue to reside in a fantasy world.

It’s easy to bypass what our bodies know. We’ve been conditioned to stuff down uncomfortable feelings or simply toss them away so that we might “get along” in a society that does not regard our capacity to feel as wisdom. This disconnection from the body allows us ostensibly to work towards racial justice while at the same time ignoring these isms as they show up in our relationships, lives, and world.

In a 2018 speech, author and somatic expert Richard Strozzi Heckler asked the audience, “How is it, that it is so easy for us to poison our waters and pollute our air? How is it that there’s a growing distance between those [who] have and those [who] don’t have? How is it that so much conflict so easily now precipitates into violence? One of the reasons is that we’re out of touch with our bodies. When I say body, what I’m really referring to is our capacity to feel.”5

To come back to feeling means over and over again touching what is happening in the body in the present moment. Right now, I taste the memory of a strawberry on my lips. My hips and legs are rooted. My eyes strain from bouncing between the bright sunlight streaming through my window and this dimmed computer screen. My stomach dances with uncertainty. Will these words make sense? My hands run down the back of my head and neck inciting a yawn.

What is happening in your body right now?

Building a relationship with our feeling body gives a foundation for coming to feeling in our racial justice work. When we notice the fear, shame, numbness, sadness, and regret, then our burgeoning familiarity with these feelings allows us to be with what is happening rather than reacting, disassociating, or repressing, as I so easily did at my birthday party. This is advanced level work, friends, but this is the path for learning how to “walk our talk” when we’re on the spot. When we enact a microaggression, when we’ve been aggressed upon, when we witness harmful acts, can we stop, feel, and trust what is arising and use that information to discern our next steps?

Including embodiment practices in our racial justice work is radical. People will challenge you; they’ll say they don’t get it (and likely truly won’t); you’ll be encouraged to help people “make sense” of their body as it relates to company objectives. But addressing the challenges of this world with body wisdom—with non-linear emergent wisdom—is the next frontier of learning in our being, relating, and organizing.

The Science

Racism is about bodies, and there’s science behind this. Notice the first images that come to mind after reading the following words: Homeless. Gang. Terrorist. Undocumented. What do you see? Were any of those images stereotypes? Now, after you read the following prompts, close your eyes. What emotions are here? What do you feel? What parts of your body feel closed? What feels open?

Maybe you, like me, feel a churning in your stomach. Perhaps you’re feeling your heartbeat and sensing a tightness in your chest? Is your throat open or constricted? Maybe you don’t feel anything at all. Maybe there’s a jumble of thoughts and some judgment about this exercise. Wherever you fall on the feeling spectrum, there are likely also emotions present: shame, anger, frustration, curiosity…

What we’ve noticed is our mind’s implicit biases and the body’s response to them. While we don’t readily admit how prejudice lives inside of us, the truth is we all have implicit biases.6 These unconscious stereotypes and judgments about groups of people shape our daily interactions, communities, places of employment, and beyond. The studies on this are numerous. We know that in school, a Black student is more likely to be punished than a white student behaving in the same way.7 In the hospital, Black and brown patients receive less pain medication than white patients expressing the same level of pain.8 In the criminal justice system, those with Afrocentric features receive longer prison sentences than those who are white or more white appearing for the same crime.9 When we read these studies, our responses may range from cynicism to shock. We might mutter judgments of disapproval, but responding to these studies with separation and blame exacerbates the root cause of the issue. The collective unconscious is the environment we’re all swimming in. We’re in it, and we’re of it. While we may feel that we don’t contribute to these ugly outcomes, in some respect each of us does. When the biases of our culture make themselves apparent, this is the time to explore how these fears live in us.

If, as we’ve been discussing, feeling is key to our racial justice work, what of feelings rooted in biases we’re not conscious of? Can we learn how to surface these feelings and avoid putting them in the driver’s seat? Research shows that this requires a shift in our circuitry.

All sensory data we receive undergoes rapid automatic processing before it arrives in our prefrontal cortex—where we rationalize and reason.10 As you read this text, your amygdala is scanning your environment. Like a sensitive car alarm, it’s driven by safety and navigates the world through a few simple commands: rest, fight, flight, or freeze. What happens when implicit bias arises? Because this conditioning is often driven by fear, our amygdala reacts before the sensory data can arrive at our prefrontal cortex to “make sense” of things. This is why I moved so quickly to turn away a “homeless man” who was really a business owner delivering food I ordered. It’s why a police officer shot a Black man in his own home after mistaking it for hers.11 It’s why when someone brings race into a conversation, people (emotionally and physically) vacate.

Implicit biases can trigger our fight-or-flight responses before we have a chance to “think”—even when we’re doing all the work to understand how we contribute to the racialization of society, even when we’re digging deep to explore the root of our biases and look at them squarely. Until we discover how to interrupt conditioned fear of the “other” at an embodied level, we’re likely to reenact the very oppressive behaviors we’re committed to dismantling. Understanding the language of our body when impacted by biases is therefore essential.

During the 2016 election a white man from North Carolina called in to C-SPAN to speak to Heather McGee, the former president of Demos, a diversity and equity think tank. “I’m prejudiced,” he said. “It’s not something I was taught but it’s kinda something that I learned.” “What can I do to change?” he asked. “You know, to be more American.”

“Get to know Black families,” McGee counseled, “who are not… all involved in crime and gangs as is so often portrayed.” She also told him to turn off the nightly news, which over-represents crimes committed by African Americans and under-represents crimes committed by white people. She suggested that if he was religious to join a Black church or at least a racially integrated one. “This fear of communities that we don’t live in is tearing us apart,” she said. “We have to foster relationships. We have to get to know who one another really is.”12

In essence, McGee suggested embodied experiences to train the caller’s body in how to interrupt his automatic defenses and to learn how to feel settled when in the presence of “the other.” Placing ourselves in opportunities to be in relationship with people from communities outside of our own loosens conscious and unconscious judgments that engender fear by helping us see those who are different from us as people just like ourselves.

The more experiences we have of meeting others in our shared humanity, the more likely we are to dismantle implicit biases and conditioning from third-party sources that form our opinions of the world and its inhabitants. If this process were to be broken down step by step, it might look something like this:

  1. Recognize that you have implicit bias.
  2. Feel what happens in your body when bias arises.
  3. Put yourself in contexts that expose these biases—either by placing your body there physically or through visualizations—and begin to retrain your fight or flight responses by learning to settle your body.

In My Grandmother’s Hands, Resmaa Menakem writes:

“Few skills are more essential than the ability to settle your body. If you can settle your body, you are more likely to be calm, alert and fully present, no matter what is going on around you. A settled body enables you to harmonize and connect with the other bodies around you, while encouraging those bodies to settle as well. Gather together a large group of unsettled bodies—or assemble a group of bodies and then unsettle them—and you get a mob or riot. But bring a large group of settled bodies together and you have a potential movement—and a potential force for tremendous good in the world.”13

While working with a somatic coach or therapist can be worthwhile, learning to settle the body can also be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, pausing, and connecting with your five senses. Menakem also suggests several exercises in his book, which I highly recommend. While this work is difficult, I believe that the fruition of it—living in a society where all truly feel a sense of belonging, where our systems of governance are fair and just—is worth it. There’s a saying in Guinea that “knowledge is only rumor until it’s in the muscle.” It’s time we stop acting from rumor.

The Woo

Racism is about bodies, but perhaps some of our hesitance to include the wisdom of the body in this serious conversation is that it sounds a bit woo-woo. What is the wisdom of the body, and how do we relate to it? How do we get it to do what we need it to do? How can it be harnessed to guide us in moving forward in the right way?

To invite the wisdom of the body, we must know how we relate to it. It is as what women’s leadership coach and author Tara Mohr calls “the nameless next.” In response to the quote, “the future arrives first as a feeling,” from MIT Lecturer and author Otto Scharmer, she writes,

“First there is a feeling—some new rising energy, or a new discontent with what is. Not a feeling in the sense of an emotion, but rather a budding, a current, a coalescing that we feel.

Now, you and I live in the land of the linear. We were raised here. In this land, we look for every energy to become some *thing*. And immediately please. Anything that is showing itself to us? We want to get to the point of it. We believe in progress that we can describe and map.

But this is merely one way. In other lands, things grow unseen. Their unfolding is not linear, but it is real. In this land, not everything is a “thing”—there are other forms—burgeonings, waves, accumulations.”14

We’ve learned to prioritize the conceptual knowing of the mind over this nameless next. Our school system has put emphasis on our ability to think. We’ve been taught to live a short distance from our bodies. Even in many western Buddhist practices, we’ve focused on mindfulness and distanced ourselves from eastern philosophy that emphasizes the “mind” in the heart center and refers to all knowing originating in the body/mind.  Because of this, we’ve lost our capacity to feel and to sense. It is this intrapersonal segregation that paves the way for the interpersonal and collective segregation rampant in our society.

Allowing ourselves to feel has become so unfamiliar that when we do it, we don’t like it. It’s overwhelming. We don’t like our bodies—how they look, how they move, the sounds they make. We try to make them into something else and shave bits and pieces of ourselves away to fit the desired mold—which, incidentally, is a photoshopped illusion.

Societally, we’re praised for this dismemberment. As women we’re told that the smaller we physically are, the more beautiful. In our places of employment, the more we distance ourselves from feeling, the more effective our arguments.

To heal these wounds we must re-member ourselves. Cultivating a culture of belonging begins with allowing all of our pieces to belong. Writes Brené Brown: “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”15

The wisdom of the body gives us access to be all of who we are. It has been passed down to us through lineage, ritual and the spiritual practices of our ancestors.

Here’s how it particularly supports the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion:

  • The body is in the present moment. It brings us to what is happening right now. How are these realities showing up on the spot? From here, we can explore how and why we’re perpetuating them and what’s behind that.
  • Working this somatic muscle is essential for social justice work. So often we want to fix things in the future and talk about the trauma of the past. While I agree that discussing these things is important, the essential work is knowing how to be with what’s happening right now. Microaggressions happen as a thousand little cuts in the present moment.
  • The body brings us to our vulnerability. This is where healing can happen. We both long for and are afraid of this kind of being seen. However, it’s necessary to be witnessed in our vulnerability by a collective. This is how we feel that we belong.
  • In racially integrated settings, including embodiment practices can be a relief for people of color who can become fatigued from all the talking. Talking often means explaining, defending, or praising. Being and feeling is essential for helping us to have the sustainability to stay in the conversation—and to know when it’s time to leave to take care of ourselves.

Feeling is the Work

For people of color, there is no option not to feel how racial inequities impact our lives. They land squarely in our lap every day. It’s time to be joined by our white allies in the feeling of this—not in a self-flagellating kind of way, but in an “I’m willing to be vulnerable and not (physically or psychologically) bounce when the conversation gets real” kind of way. How can I trust you until I know that you can “feel me?”

Bringing the body into the conversation is essential because it teaches us how to be with the so-muchness of living in our world. Writes adrienne maree brown in Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good:

“It is still a rare thing for most of us to sit with what we feel, how we feel, the reality that we carry memories and feelings from what our ancestors experienced, and that we carry our current continuous collective trauma together. The pain can open to other feelings, more nuanced and clear. It can begin to make authentic connection and collectivity more possible.

Every mass movement, every collective effort, is made up of relationships that exist between members of the larger group. Around friends old and new, somatics helped me begin to gauge what I truly wanted and needed from connections, from political space. I got clearer on what I could offer. I got in touch with a feeling of restlessness and wandering that let me know when I didn’t want to be somewhere or with someone or with a political project. I could also feel the distinct energy of moving toward, or forward, that let me know when I did want to be around someone, did want to join in an effort from a place of authentic alignment, rather than obligation.

This awareness extended until I could begin to feel when I wanted to be in a certain place, job, political project, or even city. And when it was time to go. Yes is an embodiment. Yes is a future.”16

By learning how to be with our body and the feelings that live there, we don’t have to run. We can be in tune with our yes’s and no’s in the present moment. We can bring these pieces into the conversation, which in turn allows us to go deeper with more authenticity and vulnerability in our relationships. We can do this because we’ve practiced. We can do this because our personal healing and that of our communities depends on this kind of truth telling.

Let Us Be Together

We can transform our gathering spaces into places of learning to feel together. That is what I’m hoping to bring when I stand in front of the room and invite embodiment practices. It’s about learning to re-member ourselves and to reprogram our fight or flight response connected to our implicit biases. Sometimes this means talking, but it also means rocking, humming, and making physical contact with each other—highly edgy work, and yet truly the medicine needed for our time.17

Remember though, this need not be a project. As soon as it becomes a box to be checked, we’ve missed the point. As soon as it becomes something you have to be an “expert in” to do, we’re judging it based on the wrong system. Coming back to your body is as simple as taking a deep breath. Inviting somatic practices in your work is as simple as taking a collective breath together and letting it out with a sigh. Hold the space behind that releasing breath and see what happens. Feel the uncertainty. We reshape our future by building our resilience by being with the ever-changing present.


Kelsey Blackwell is a somatic coach, writer, and facilitator committed to fearlessly creating spaces for women and people of color to trust and follow the wisdom of their own bodies so they may powerfully shine their lights in a world that sorely needs this brilliance. Follow her at kelseyblackwell.com.


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Notes

  1. Ta-Nehisi Coates, “Letter to My Son,” The Atlantic, July 4, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/07/tanehisi-coates-between-the-world-and-me/397619/.
  2. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos (New York: Bloomsbury, 2000).
  3. Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies (Las Vegas, NV: Central Recovery Press, 2017), 4-5.
  4. Erin Kerrison, Wizdom Powell, and Abigail Sewell, with editor Andrew Grant-Thomas, “Object to Subject: Three Scholars on Race, Othering, and Bearing Witness,” Othering & Belonging 3 (August 2018): 17, http://www.otheringandbelonging.org/issue-three-fall-2018/.
  5. Richard Strozzi Heckler, “Embodied Leadership: Now More Than Ever,” Wisdom 2.0, YouTube, March 29, 2018, video, 20:43, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2ZsqfXWDkY.
  6. Keith Payne, Laura Niemi, John M. Doris, “How to Think about ‘Implicit Bias,’” Scientific American, March 27, 2018, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-think-about-implicit-bias/.
  7. Jason A. Okonofua and Jennifer L. Eberhardt, “Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students,” Psychological Science 26, no. 5 (2015): 617–624, https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797615570365.
  8. Kelly M. Hoffman, Sophie Trawalter, Jordan R. Axt, and M. Norman Oliver, “Racial Bias in Pain Assessment and Treatment Recommendations, and False Beliefs about Biological Differences Between Blacks and Whites,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 113, no. 16 (2016): 4296–4301, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1516047113.
  9. William T. Pizzi, Irene V. Blair & Charles M. Judd, “Discrimination in Sentencing on the Basis of Afrocentric Features,” Michigan Journal of Race & Law 10, no. 2, (2005): 327-355, https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1148&context=mjrl.
  10. Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands.
  11. Sarah Mervosh and Matthew Haag, “Claims by Dallas Officer Who Killed Man in His Own Home Raise New Questions,” The New York Times, September 18, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/us/dallas-police-shooting-guyger-jean.html.
  12. Heather McGee, “Caller admits racism and is gently advised,” C-SPAN, August 22, 2016, video, 3:55, https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4618001/user-clip-caller-admits-racism-gently-advised.
  13. Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands, 151-152.
  14. Tara Mohr, “The Nameless Next,” TaraMohr.com, no date, https://www.taramohr.com/navigating-change/the-nameless-next/.
  15. Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (New York: Random House, 2017), 40.
  16. adrienne maree brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good (Chico, CA: AK Press, 2019).
  17. I recommend the writings of Resmaa Menakem, specifically his book My Grandmother’s Hands, for examples of somatic practices to do personally and collectively for healing racial trauma.