Then They Came for Mine
Healing from the Trauma of Racial Violence
by Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts
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Pub Date 13 Sep 2022 | Archive Date Not set
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.
“If faith is something powerful–finding ways to tether human reality and divine love together–then that faith must be honest about the world but also reach toward healing. In Then They Came for Mine, Lewis-Giggetts has not just offered a magnificent, searing, and soul-shaking narrative but has also found a way to do what the best sages, priests, and griots do: she has presented the world with revelation, the breath of the Spirit woven into the very fabric of Black life, literature, survival, art, artifacts, movement, possibility, and humanity. Part memoir, part mediation, part manifesto, this work has the character and skill of poetry, the brilliance of grace, the mystery of Black wisdom, and the illumination that the world we have been given is not all that there is to life. This book is affirmation. It is witness. It is lush. It is liberation. It is fire. It is spirit. It is testimony. It is gospel.”
—Danté Stewart, author of Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle
“Lewis-Giggetts is a master at weaving autobiographical narrative with cultural commentary, sharing her life experience and wisdom in such a way that it makes readers long to connect more deeply with their own. In Then They Came for Mine, she invites us to gaze at the wounds of racial trauma not as a sadomasochistic exercise but as a way to illuminate the way to hope and healing. This is not a book to be approached lightly. This is holy ground.”
—Chanequa Walker-Barnes, Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Counseling, Columbia Theological Seminary
“So many of us are traumatized by the unbearably persistent and violent racism that is deeply woven into the fabric of our nation. Lewis-Giggetts knows the pain of loved ones murdered in racist attacks and also the pain of wounds that bleed invisibly, assailing our bodies and souls even as we carry on with the endurance of our ancestors. With passion and compassion, Lewis-Giggetts preaches that celebrations of so-called resilience and rushing to premature reconciliation will not heal our hearts, communities, or nation. Only by honestly exposing our wounds and speaking truth with fierce empathy and accountability can we heal the trauma that white supremacy has wrought on God’s children of every ethnicity.”
—Jacqui Lewis, author of Fierce Love: A Bold Path to Ferocious Courage and Rule-Breaking Kindness That Can Heal the World
“Anyone who desires whole mind-body-spirit healing from racial trauma should read this book. Timely, holistic, and insightful, Lewis-Giggetts’s Then They Came for Mine is a trustworthy guide that I’ll keep returning to in my personal healing journey and cite often in my professional work.”
—Christena Cleveland, author of God Is a Black Woman and founder of the Center for Justice + Renewal
“Then They Came for Mine provides an accessible and frank mind-body-spirit analysis of the kind of Christian faith needed to authentically respond to Black people’s trauma caused by white racial violence. It is a timely resource for engaged faith community conversations about this violence.”
—Traci C. West, author of Solidarity and Defiant Spirituality: Africana Lessons on Religion, Racism, and Ending Gender Violence
“Lewis-Giggetts offers a once-in-a-generation work with Then They Came for Mine. She weaves the personal testimonies of those whose loved ones have been killed by white supremacy and the histories of racial violence that undergird those events. Simply surviving the violence and rising to excellence falls short of our desires for a better future. In fact, ‘resilience is making us sick,’ writes Lewis-Giggetts, who calls the reader to choose ‘healing over reconciliation.’ Lewis-Giggetts provides a necessary challenge for anti-racist and trauma-informed healers, teachers, and leaders: center healing and love, for our lives and future generations depend on it.”
—Patrick B. Reyes, author of The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive
“With heart-wrenching narrative, astute analysis of Scripture, and unblinking passion, Lewis-Giggetts offers us a front-row seat to the very real impacts of systemic racism and what happens when it gets personal — and it’s always personal. This is exactly the type of book that white people who claim to care about racial justice need to read, because it takes us from the comfortable upper echelons of the racialized body politic into the experience of a family living with the results of senseless racial violence. This story will forever change you. If you let it, it will change you for the better.”
—Kerry Connelly, author of Wait—Is This Racist? and Good White Racist?
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