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Featured Book for February 2023

Then They Came for Mine: Healing from the Trauma of Racial Violence

by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts

Black Americans’ resilience during centuries of racially-motivated violence is beyond remarkable. But continuing to endure this harm allows for generations of trauma to fester and grow. Healing has to be the priority going forward.

For decades, Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts clung to her upbringing in the church, believing that racial reconciliation would come through faith and discipline, being respectable, and doing what’s right. But when her cousin became the victim of a white supremacist’s hateful rampage, her body and soul said, “no more.”

The trauma of America’s racial history, wreaking havoc on not only Black and Brown folk but white people too, in its own way, will not be alleviated without the will to face it head-on. We must name the dehumanization that plagues us, practice truth-telling and self-care, and make space for our vulnerability—to do the hard work of healing ourselves and our communities.

This book is written with that healing in mind. It unpacks how American systems and institutions enable the kind of violence we’ve seen connected to white supremacy and nationalism. It examines the way media has created a desensitization to violence against Black bodies. It outlines what it looks like for a person who claims to follow Jesus to be anti-racist. But more than anything, it offers a blueprint for healing and reconciliation that includes the necessity of white people untangling from an ancestral mandate of colonization and false notions of supremacy, and Black and Brown people reckoning with the impact of trauma and feeling free to grieve in whatever way grief shows up.

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Community Questions

Community questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. In Tracey’s dedication to Vickie she wrote that she vowed that her death would not be in vain, but a catalyst for repair and recovery. Has a personal loss ever inspired you to make this kind of vow? If so, share the impact it’s had on your life.
  2. The book’s title is inspired by the Martin Niemoller poem ending in the line, “Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.” Have you ever considered that there may be a time in which you are at risk? Why or why not?
  3. In the introduction, Tracey writes about the high cost of resilience and shares her own trauma-related health challenges. What would it look like to have the collective trauma of Black people acknowledged and addressed on a community and even a national level?

Week 2

  1. Tracey asks Black and white readers Jesus’ question, “Do you want to be well?” What does healing look like to you?
  2. Tracey writes about various origin points of racism, such as justification for slavery, pseudo-scientific categorization, and white supremacy. What do you think the cause of racism is?
  3. Is it reasonable to expect the family members of victims to offer forgiveness to the perpetrators? What is your response to Tracey’s metaphor that asking people who are consistently victimized to forgive is like “trying to heal while still bleeding?”

Week 3

  1. Reflecting on policing’s origins as well as the unprosecuted killings of Black people in the century following emancipation, do you think there has been progress? What else must be done so that Black Americans can feel safe?
  2. On page 66 Tracey writes, “As I stare into the void of my heritage, I call white people to stare into the reality of theirs.” What do you see when you stare into your heritage? How does the past affect your life today?
  3. Chapter 4 is called Silence Is Violence. How do you and/or your faith community respond to the news to Black people being targeted, shot, and killed by racist mass shooters, or by police officers? How can you avoid becoming desensitized to continual violence against Black people?

Week 4

  1. Do you agree that white people have experienced racialized trauma from which they need to heal? Why or why not?
  2. How would you define the differences between allies, accomplices, and co-conspirators? What examples of each have you seen or yourself embodied in the ongoing fight for justice?
  3. The final chapter opens with Tracey taking the Polar Bear Plunge as a way to embrace discomfort and mark a transition in her healing process, and later shecdescribes a hike that exemplifies the work that remains to be done. She also shares how she embraced contemplative practices. What practices guide you forward in your healing journey?