America’s Racial Karma: An Invitation To Heal

Parallax. Sept. 2020. 96p. ISBN 9781946764744. pap. $9.95. SOC SCI
Ward (Love’s Garden) takes a deep philosophical dive in this accessible text addressing the racialized history of the United States and the trauma it inflicts. Ward, trained in the Buddhist tradition under the guidance of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, intersects his vast spiritual wisdom with the racial history of the United States in order to unpack the country’s racial karma. This book provides a theological narrative of America’s historic colonization and dominion. By illustrating religion’s historical role in colonization, one gains a greater understanding of Ward’s concept of racial karma and its associated trauma. Several chapters address aspects of racial violence and the traumas that ensue, including the recent murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. The author shares his own reckoning with racial violence and how it has influenced his social justice work. The last section imparts a healing framework utilizing resources from the Trauma Resource Institute, Buddhist philosophy, and somatic practices. Basic guidelines are provided for readers to create space for deeper connections for transformation.
VERDICT Ward’s teachings focus on trauma informed resilience to liberate self and others. For readers who enjoyed Resmaa Menakem’s My Grandmother’s Hands and other works addressing how to recognize and heal racialized trauma.

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