The Little Book of Racial Healing: Coming to the Table for Truth-Telling, Liberation, and Transformation
Reviewed by Karen Heidenreich
September 1, 2020
By Thomas Norman DeWolf and Jodie Geddes. Good Books, 2019. 120 pages. $5.99/paperback or eBook.
As a White woman living in a predominantly White area, I have searched for resources to educate and guide my journey into awareness of the realities of racial injustice and my place in the struggle for true equality. The Little Book of Racial Healing is a great resource for me. In the message from DeWolf (“I have no interest in making white people feel guilty or ashamed about the past or the present.”), I found permission to be uncomfortable, enraged, awkward, and loving toward myself as I began to navigate difficult discussions and re-examine everything I had been taught in my colonized educational experience.
Geddes’s words (“We begin to reclaim our humanity when we remember our interconnectedness and share with each other.”) helped me see past the anger I felt growing inside me, as I discovered more brutalities and injustices, to a place of peace where I could feel truly connected to my fellow humans—Black, Brown, and White.
Arranged in nine brief chapters, the book guides the reader through the steps of recognizing and examining trauma, then working toward healing through conversations that help us find our connectedness, and finally toward a path of action through continued education and engagement in community movements. Anecdotes sprinkled throughout the chapters connect us to the humanity in each of these steps. The chapter on the circle process gives specific and creative guidance to using this powerful technique to create an atmosphere of trust and intention. Griots (West African storytellers), bards, and poets throughout history have known the power of storytelling, and this book offers the circle process as a stage for this art, to provide mirrors in which we see ourselves, as well as windows into the experiences of others. It recognizes that we all come to the circle from different places, at different points in our journey. All we have to offer is our experiences and our ears.
In The Little Book of Racial Healing, I encountered the revolutionary idea of restorative justice, in which there is no winner or loser but an actual workable solution that can benefit all parties. This can happen in the smallest circle, in neighborhoods and schools, in businesses, and even as a better alternative to our inequitably created and badly broken criminal justice system. Beginning with individual healing; then bringing our newly opened selves into conversations that reduce the “othering” and increase connectedness; and then, finally, offering our full selves into service in our communities, this book charts a path toward a bright future.
Karen Heidenreich is an attender at Little Falls Meeting in Fallston, Md. She teaches at an independent school in Baltimore, Md., and serves on the school’s Employee Inclusion Committee, the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion Student Task Force, and the LGBTQ+ Task Force. She cofounded the Coming to the Table chapter in Harford County, Md.