Excerpts from the new book “Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism”
Submitted by Caroline Haskell and Ann Todd Jealous
September 23, 2013
Greetings from California! As two longstanding NCBI members, we wanted to provide you with an update on the response to our book, Combined Destinies: Whites Sharing Grief about Racism (Potomac Books, 2013). We have heard from so many people about the value of this anthology and how it triggered many memories for them about their own experiences growing up and living in a country with a racist ideology. We want to share a few of the comments we have received.
“I want to tell you, among the many thoughts that your book has been catalyst to, I am wondering how many children who lost their primary caregivers and their sense of being adored grew up with faulty attachment capacity? As I move children into new families, gentle transitions are key to healing loss, and keeping connections with past loved ones soften all of those moves. I look back and see signs that my mother was “stuck” in some of the same ways our kids in care are from huge breaks with no preparation. My mother was raised in the Deep South, loved by two nannies who suddenly left her parents’ home for unknown reasons. If The Help did nothing else, it painted brilliantly the pain for the child losing the person who made them feel adored. A chapter in your book addresses this same theme. The disabling aftermath of pulling apart those who were so attuned to one another feels familiar every day. I would call it child abuse.” – Gayle
“An exercise I gave my students every year was to challenge them to find different ways to construct a specific-sized box with one sheet of paper. Most came up with 5 -10 versions. When I told them that another group of students had come up with 30 or more, within an hour, they were astounded! They were incredulous. Some denied the fact. But something interesting happened when they realized the possibility of other variations: all of them began to see the problem with new eyes. Suddenly, they found multiple, new solutions too! More importantly, they realized that their old way of thinking had limited them.
I believe this lesson is the gift of Combined Destinies. Your book has helped me to see a condition that has long existed with new eyes and even a possibility for solutions that I could not imagine before. If we can accept that racism is a mental health issue, then it legitimizes healing. Combined Destinies is a breakthrough study. The stories give air to long-held grief and hope for a better society. Bravo!” – Aileen
“Your book brought tears to my eyes and made me want to share with you about the journey that grief and loss can take a person on, if we are willing to go and find allies who will join us. Thanks for your wonderful work and for the heart that you put into it. You are changing hearts and minds and lives. What an incredible thing to be doing!” – Dana
“I am almost finished with Combined Destinies. For me, every page glowed with truth and wisdom. From the first few pages, I was compelled by the memories the book evoked in me to make a list of crucial moments, people, situations, decisions, etc. The exercise has been deeply meaningful to me because the memories I have listed are the things that set the course of my adult life. In the introduction to your book, you indicate the hope that readers will “join this conversation” and “add your voices.” I would be glad to keep my list going and then write up in narrative form what those memories are. Hope the book is getting widely read.” – Stuart
And, from a 60-year-old nurse who attended one of our many book presentations: “I had never thought about these issues, but I’m thinking about them now!”
We are grateful to be part of NCBI, an organization that has at its core, “changing hearts and minds and lives.”