The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness (Paperback)
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“Illuminates the very heart of social justice and how it might be approached and nurtured through mindfulness practices in community and through the discernment and new degrees of freedom these practices entrain.” --from the foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn
In a society where unconscious bias, microaggressions, institutionalized racism, and systemic injustices are so deeply ingrained, healing is an ongoing process. When conflict and division are everyday realities, our instincts tell us to close ranks, to find the safety of those like us, and to blame others. This book profoundly shows that in order to have the difficult conversations required for working toward racial justice, inner work is essential. Through the practice of embodied mindfulness--paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in an open, nonjudgmental way--we increase our emotional resilience, recognize our own biases, and become less reactive when triggered.
As Sharon Salzberg, New York Times-bestselling author of Real Happiness writes, “Rhonda Magee is a significant new voice I've wanted to hear for a long time—a voice both unabashedly powerful and deeply loving in looking at race and racism.” Magee shows that embodied mindfulness calms our fears and helps us to exercise self-compassion. These practices help us to slow down and reflect on microaggressions--to hold them with some objectivity and distance--rather than bury unpleasant experiences so they have a cumulative effect over time. Magee helps us develop the capacity to address the fears and anxieties that would otherwise lead us to re-create patterns of separation and division.
It is only by healing from injustices and dissolving our personal barriers to connection that we develop the ability to view others with compassion and to live in community with people of vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints. Incorporating mindfulness exercises, research, and Magee's hard-won insights, The Inner Work of Racial Justice offers a road map to a more peaceful world.
About the Author
Rhonda V. Magee is a professor of law at the University of San Francisco. Also trained in sociology and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), she is a highly practiced facilitator of trauma-sensitive, restorative MBSR interventions for lawyers and law students, and for minimizing the effects of social-identity-based bias. Magee has been a visiting scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society and a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This book opens doors for all of us to better understand the conditioning that keeps us feeling so separate and apart. Rhonda Magee is a significant new voice I've wanted to hear for a long time—a voice both unabashedly powerful and deeply loving in looking at race and racism. Most important, Rhonda's voice is a practical one, illuminating a path each of us can follow to a life filled with far greater awareness, connection, and peace."
—Sharon Salzberg, New York Times-bestselling author of Real Happiness
“How can we begin to explore, understand, and finally, undo the painful injustice of racism that is so deeply embedded in us? Illuminated by her work in meditation and mindfulness practice, Rhonda Magee has spent her life considering this question. Her knowledge, wisdom, sensitivity, and compassion shine through every page of The Inner Work of Racial Justice. This book should be read slowly and carefully by everyone. Do its exercises, ponder its nuances. Take it to heart—you can’t afford not to.”
—Norman Fischer, founder and spiritual director of the Everyday Zen Foundation
“With warmth, knowledge, and personal storytelling, Rhonda Magee offers us a path to look into the painful truths of structural racial oppression with mindfulness and compassion, which provides the necessary emotional grounding to skillfully work through the pain to generate new solutions through authentic connections to more communities. It may take generations to undo the harms of systemic racial oppression, but with this revolutionary book, Rhonda brings us many generations closer.”
—Helen Weng, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco
“A powerful, courageous, and compelling exploration of the role of mindfulness in working toward racial justice, and of working toward racial justice as an element of mindfulness. This book is essential reading for our time.”
—Joan Halifax, PhD, founder of the Upaya Zen Center
“A powerful and important book on how to apply mindfulness to address racial, social, and economic divisions in a way that nurtures individual and group healing and integration. Rhonda Magee models the compassion, courage, and wisdom needed to understand, examine, and deconstruct very painful manifestations of racism in our society.”
—Due Quach, author of Calm Clarity
"How brilliant! How useful! How essential right now! Rhonda Magee frames racism as one of the habits of mind that lead straight to suffering, then applies the wisdom of mindfulness to untangle the knots, compulsions, and delusions that hold this habit in place. She shares finely-tuned practices and stories that speak to the heart and mind. Her compassion is astounding and a teaching for each and every one of us."
—Amy Gross, contributing editor at Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
“Making explicit connections between personal and social change, Rhonda Magee offers us a transformative roadmap forward for racial justice work. Infused with both love and rigor, this book is essential reading, full of hard-won insights from a teacher who walks her talk.”
—David Treleaven, PhD, author of Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness
“According to Rhonda Magee, we have been living in an uneasy truce between races since the civil rights movement, and Magee brilliantly facilitates strengthening our will and courage to turn toward each other despite our fears. In essence, she puts shoes on our bruised feet, grabs us by the hand, and walks us further down the path started over fifty years ago."
—Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, author of The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender
"An invitation to tend to our individual and collective racial healing, this book contains a powerful message of hope in light of the complex problems before us. In it, we find that through radical mindfulness it may be possible to develop the racial literacy needed to create and sustain the kind of society our founding fathers envisioned."
—Angel Acosta, former board member of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society