Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor: Essays on Life and Lineage by white Women

Lisa Iversen (Editor) Una Suseli O'Connell (Essay by)
& 1 more


"A timely and thoughtful discussion about the intersection of gender and White privilege." -Kirkus Reviews

Using the lens of inherited trauma and family history, Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor offers a hopeful, humanizing path for dismantling whiteness.

For over two decades, family constellations facilitator and therapist Lisa Iversen has been working with groups, including descendants of ancestors who have perpetrated harm or been victimized in circumstances of injustice. In this collection of essays, she brings together twelve white women who explore the role of whiteness in collective movements of immigration, colonialism, slavery, and war. Through genealogical research, family documents, and deep reflection, these writers from the US, Canada, and the UK disentangle themes of innocence, grief, race, privilege, and belonging in their families and ancestries.

Each essayist shares moving stories and anecdotes from their life, adding historical and cultural context to current conversations about white women's role in creating and sustaining whiteness.

"This collection of 12 personal essays represents brave explorations of their relationships to whiteness via different aspects of their histories and heritages. The essays provide a fascinating look at whiteness through the lenses of American racism and Jewish Americans; the Swiss and Nazi collaborations; displacement by war; relationship to unceded tribal Native lands; and German ethnicity and reparations. This book is a good reminder for Americans that whiteness may be expressed differently depending on the country and culture, but has always been associated with privilege and oppression." -Patricia L. Dawson, MD, PhD, FACS, Medical Director, Office of Healthcare Equity, UW Medicine

Whiteness Is Not an Ancestor will appeal to those ready to engage with the difficult truths of history, those interested in healing collective historic trauma and dismantling racism, therapists and family counselors, and all concerned about the fate of democratic nations sourced in whiteness. Each essay includes sources and resources for more information.

Essays by Sonya Lea, Karin Konstantynowicz, Anne Hayden, Summer Starr, Kate Regan, June BlueSpruce, Sabine Olsen, Carole Harmon, Christina Greené, Sharon Halfnight, Una Suseli O'Connell, Pam Emerson. Edited and Foreword by Lisa Iversen.

Product Details

$15.99  $14.71
Cab Publishing
Publish Date
October 13, 2020
5.98 X 9.02 X 0.4 inches | 0.56 pounds

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About the Author

Lisa received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington in 1992. Her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English, with a minor in Women's Studies, is from the University of Minnesota (1986). She has been a practicing psychotherapist in the Pacific Northwest since 1993 and facilitating Systemic and Family Constellations since 1999. From 2008-2015 she co-hosted the radio show, Life Conversations presents Ancestral Blueprints with Atlanta-based host Adé Anifowose and Ombassa Sophera. She is the author of the book, Ancestral Blueprints: Revealing Invisible Truths in America's Soul, a psychotherapist's reflections on individual-collective healing, ancestors, US history, and democracy. Her TedxTalk (2015) explores her perspective that the US was created out of disconnection from family. While actively connected to her Minnesota roots, Lisa now creates home with her husband and their daughter in the Pacific Northwest where she directs the Center for Ancestral Blueprints. www.lisaiversen.com www.ancestralblueprints.com
Una graduated with a degree in French from the University of Reading. She then spent a year as an intern with an educational psychologist in New York. Later she trained as a teacher of English and taught in the UK and Switzerland in traditional and alternative schools. She was Head of English at a technical high school and a Year 6 teacher at a Rudolf Steiner school. She also worked for the Bernese Teachers' Association, offering advanced language skills to Swiss teachers of English. In 2000, she returned to the UK as the CEO and later the Principal of an English language school in Kent. In 2001/02, Una trained in Systemic Family Constellations at the Hellinger Institute in New York. In 2007, she began working for a London based charity, supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. Una worked in primary and secondary schools, facilitating group work in the classroom and managing issues around belonging and inclusion, family and culture. She worked closely with children and their families and was actively involved in social care issues, including child protection. Una provided training courses for teachers and team leaders and was invited to present her work at The National College for School Leadership conference. Una now works independently, providing workshops and trainings for educators, school therapists and social workers on the subject of 'Family Conflict, Family Loyalty - navigating the path between the two'. Una has two daughters. She is married and lives in North Hertfordshire.
Sonya Lea writes on memory and identity. Her memoir, Wondering Who You Are, (Tin House) about what happened after her husband lost the memory of their life, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Wondering has won awards and garnered praise in a number of publications including Oprah Magazine, People, and the BBC, who named it a top ten book. Her essays have appeared in Salon, The Southern Review, Brevity, Guernica, Ms. Magazine, Good Housekeeping, The Prentice Hall College Reader, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rumpus, The Butter, and more. Lea has worked as a house cleaner, a cook, an editor, and for museums and science centers. She creates retreats and teaches writing in North America. She teaches at Hugo House in Seattle, online at Lidia Yuknavitch's Corporeal Writing, and she developed a pilot project to teach writing to women veterans through the Red Badge Project. She speaks at conferences, universities and festivals, including the Cork Writer's Festival (Ireland) and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. BITCHCONOCLAST is a mother-daughter podcast on sex, feminism and power that Lea created with performance artist/filmmaker Dylan Bandy. Lea's short film, EVERY BEAUTIFUL THING, won two awards for direction and several awards for score. Her cast, crew and donors were seventy percent women. She is an Academy Award Nicholl Fellowship Finalist in screenwriting. Originally from Kentucky, she lives in Seattle and the Canadian Rockies.


"...well written...poignant and often raw...A timely and thoughtful discussion about the intersection of gender and White privilege." - Kirkus Reviews

"A daring and willing look into identity and the structure of whiteness in family, communities, and history. When we ask what the stories are underneath what we carry, sometimes we have to change our lives." - Lidia Yuknavitch, national bestselling author of Verge and The Chronology of Water

"Healing from trauma requires the whole trauma story & that requires the voice of the perpetrator which has largely been missing. These essays are a wonderful primer...in how to search your heart for the truths within your family and history...so that you & others might heal and work toward justice." - Gretchen Schmelzer, PhD Author of Journey Through Trauma

"The essays that this group of soulful women have written provide a glimmer of possibility that we can re-humanize ourselves...I saw new pathways I could travel. People of color need us to find our way back home. So do we." - Katrina Browne, producer/director, Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

"...a much-needed conversation that begins from a place of acknowledgment of white hegemony. This collection of layered and nuanced essays fills me with hope for the real and honest dialogue...this revolutionary anthology serves as both a rallying cry and a guide to the reckoning necessary for meaningful change." - Huda Al-Marashi, author of First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story

"With compassion and grace, [these writers] bear witness to the ways in which they have benefited from the systemic racism that plagues our society. Their reckonings, full of pain, love, and new awareness...point the way toward a better future for us all." - Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?