As I Thaw: Healing From White Supremacy Culture and Coming Home Human

( This is a repost of an article I wrote on Medium in 2018. To read the full version, use this link: Nov 11, 2018·7 min read)

Trigger alert: this article is about dismantling racism in white bodies. This is not to downplay that people of color have been and are the primary targets and survivors of racialized trauma. This article is an exploration into what it means as a white person to dissolve white supremacy inside my own white body, and what it might point to in terms of thawing white supremacy in our collective white bodies (churches, schools, communities).

I am not new to conversations about race and racism. And I am not new to thoughtful conversation and self-reflection about what it means for me that I am white in a country build on the massacre, slavery, and fundamental dehumanization of people of color.

But what I am experiencing now as I engage with how whiteness lives in my body, this is different. Very, very different. And hopeful beyond measure, because — while the story has long persisted that people don’t like to give up privilege — human bodies do want to heal, thaw, and relate in healthful ways to other human bodies.

I have begun to experience just how true this is.

I have been unraveling layers of trauma in my body for several years now with the help of a highly skilled somatic experiencing therapist, and through my own mindfulness practices, and self-education about trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). And, quite honestly, by being loved, very, very well, by my husband, Niels. I am truly healing. I wasn’t sure I believed it was possible before, but I am indeed healing.

And as I heal, I am discovering now a very persistent — easily reactivated — layer that I have come to identify with “whiteness” — or internalized white supremacy as it lives in me. It’s like an iron-strong shell that exists right below my skin, an armor that holds me up and has helped me muscle through incredible acts of achievement, self control, and overwork. It has led to exhaustion, a habit of strain, an addiction to doing, achieving, and controlling, and it has contributed to my debilitating chronic illness. In short, my whiteness has done a number on me. I can only imagine how being around my whiteness has harmed others.

(To read the rest of this article, visit this link on Medium).