White Body Supremacy

"For most of our history, the white body has had full and unfettered access to every part of my body: every access point, every idea, every understanding. The white body has had full and unfettered access. That’s not just a problem for me, that’s also a problem for white folks, because it means that they expect my deference. When it doesn't happen, something happens inside of them—and that is not work that I can do.

A black person's fist against a dark background, with "BLM" written on their wrist.

And so for me, this idea of racial healing starts with very tough-centered interrogation on what we're actually dealing with. Not this Kumbaya, pie-in-the-sky, 'Let’s just all get along' unity stuff. That’s dead.

I like that white people are nice to me. Don’t spit in my food, don’t slap me upside the head, and don't shoot me in the back: I like that. But your individual niceness is inadequate to deal with the brutality and the viciousness of what white body supremacy is doing and has done to my people and to indigenous people."

excerpted from a January 26, 2021 virtual conversation hosted by the University of Minnesota

About the Author

Resmaa Menakem

Resmaa Menakem is an American author, artist and psychotherapist specializing in the effects of trauma on the human body and relationships in black families and black society.

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