Becoming a Good Relative: Calling White Settlers Toward Truth, Healing, and Repair

Becoming a Good Relative: Calling White Settlers Toward Truth, Healing, and Repair weaves the author’s personal story of transformation with historical research, spiritual teachings, and an appendix of practical skills, resources, and rituals. Giovale offers warm, compassionate, and vulnerable personal stories to reveal how unlearning fragility, becoming an antiracist, and repairing ancestral harm can feel. She invites readers beyond intellectual analysis into intuition, dreams, and practical rituals. These practices can transform the harms of colonialism, racial hierarchy, and economic inequity from the inside out. While written as a memoir, this book gives readers practical tools for building their own resilience and committing to reparations for the long term.
    This book is for white people who are curious about moving beyond white fragility and into robust healing. It speaks to the TikTok users who have viewed videos on #decolonization 14 million times. It also addresses the philanthropic sector, which has increased its overall giving by 41% since 2019, along with regular Americans’ substantial donations, and is seeking inspiration to direct more funding to communities of Color.

Foreword by Luisah Teish, Ph.D. – African American Elder, Founding Mother of Ile Orunmila Oshun, and author of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals. 

Afterword by Lyla June Johnston, Ph.D., Diné artist, scholar, and community organizer.


Advance Praise for Becoming a Good Relative

With a voice of intuitive compassion, Becoming a Good Relative will open your heart’s eyes. This book offers a physical and spiritual prescription for the awakening paradigm shift that is calling all of us into Divine Alignment. Hilary has come to understand the disruption of the sacred natural order of the Universe and its remedy: the principle that everything is related and connected.”

—Basil Brave Heart – Oglala Lakota Elder, Korean War Combat Veteran, Boarding School Survivor, and author, The Spiritual Journey of a Brave Heart

“We are living in times that make it ever so obvious that the American legacy has warped our moral compass. In the best of worlds, we would embrace the universal humanity of all people and treat each other with respect, compassion, and kindness. Hilary Giovale unpacks the legacies of historical harm that continue to afflict American society and shows us a way forward toward healing. Her lens is informed by indigenous concepts that encourage harmony between one another and the planet we call home. This book is for people who want to be better and do better for the sake of generations to come.” 

—Sharon Leslie Morgan – Founder, Our Black Ancestry and co-author, Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade

“Hilary Giovale models courageous exploration of truth-telling, healing, and repair. She boldly amplifies voices and wisdom from sources that are often marginalized. Her humility and courage are refreshing and inspirational. Becoming a Good Relative is a must-read for anyone grappling with their own relationship with cultural identity, race, and colonization. Giovale reaches those of us who are desperate for new paradigms of living rooted in right-relationship.”

—Kevin Eppler, co-founder, White Men for Racial Justice

“Colonizers have been dismembering the language and sacred traditions of countless groups of people for millennia. The cynical believe that this has become the status quo; that there is nothing we can do but forget the past and move on. However, there are others who are rising up to challenge these beliefs. They are devoting their lives to re-membrance. Hilary Giovale is one such person. In her groundbreaking book, Becoming a Good Relative, she encourages us to re-member who we have come from; to re-member our ancestral treasures; to honour the elders among us who are breathing new life into the language, songs, and stories of those who came before us. Hilary’s voice is urgently needed, particularly at this time in our history, when innumerable people are struggling to find meaning, connection, and healing.”

—Síne McKenna, Scots Gaelic Songs and Stories Teacher (ancestralfire.ca)

“Through the journey of Becoming a Good Relative, Hilary Giovale initiates white, European-descended people into the spirit and earthly work of stepping into their collective power to dream and to build a different way of living, in harmony with the earth, manifesting their deepest innate wisdom in healing, repairing, and co-creating a new life with our indigenous family, relatives.  As an indigenous person, Nahua (Aztec & Toltec), I couldn’t put the book down. Drawing on extensive research and the intimate depths of personal exploration, Hilary provides knowledge and hope-filled actions that present and future generations of white settlers can use to reclaim their full humanity through processes of truth-telling and healing.”

—Dr. Anita Sanchez, Nahua (Aztec & Toltec), international award-winning author of The Four Sacred Gifts: Indigenous Wisdom for Modern Times

“Hilary earnestly, honestly, and humbly shares her journey of truthfully facing her life of privilege. In the journey shared herein, she uncovers hidden family secrets. To write this book, Hilary literally climbed, fasted, and prayed in sacred places. All the while she was open to mentors, some of whom serendipitously showed up to guide her. She is bold, courageous, and most timely in sharing this work of reconciliation. Bahozho — feeling both happy and hopeful, knowing the Holy Ones have touched and reanimated the soul of a person, a woman of open-mindedness and character.”

—Steven A. Darden, Diné Traditional Practitioner

“In her authentic reflection and assessment of her privilege, Hilary Giovale has done the hard work of taking off her mask. By using raw testimony and honesty, Hilary not only challenges the reader to confront their privilege, choices, and power; but Becoming a Good Relative offers an invitation for collective liberation. Hilary has beautifully and carefully crafted an offering — a model of how we can create a just economy.”

—Dr. Aisha Nyandoro, CEO, Springboard to Opportunities

“Becoming a Good Relative is a profound exploration. With a fearless spirit and authentic boldness, Giovale embarks on an introspective journey, unraveling the intricate layers of her ancestral past to forge a path illuminated by truth. She meticulously unveils layers of her family’s past, exposing the complexities, pain, and deliberate lies that have shaped generations. What distinguishes this book is the author’s unwavering commitment to honesty and authenticity. She artfully intertwines personal anecdotes, historical insights, and reflections, weaving a rich tapestry that illuminates the importance of acknowledging the pain caused by deception—pain that reverberates through generations, leaving an indelible impact on our collective ancestry. This book invites readers to participate in a profound healing process. Giovale eloquently emphasizes the significance of love, intention, and responsible action as pivotal forces in this transformative journey towards healing. Her narrative not only confronts the past but also advocates for a future where these values take precedence. Becoming a Good Relative is a masterpiece of storytelling and introspection. This book is an essential read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of ancestral legacies and the transformative power of embracing truth for healing.” 

—Beatrice A. Woody, Global Philanthropic Strategist 

“Many ancestral journeys start with genealogy and finish with a trip to ancestral lands, yet Hilary didn’t stop there. She kept digging, in the land under her feet. While navigating much-needed, difficult questions and conversations, her journey is supported by deep community, ancestral figures, and liminal experiences.  This is the meaningful and transformational work the world needs, rooted in action while engaging the head, heart, and hand.”

—Jude Lally, Scottish Cultural Activist and Artist (pathoftheancestralmothers.com)

“This is a profoundly brave book. In sharing her journey, in all its pain, revelation, and imperfectness, Hilary has woven both a reckoning and a calling-home. May her offering embolden many more of us with white settler lineages to do the work of becoming good relatives–work that is essential for a shared future of well-being and liberation.”

—Joanna Levitt Cea, co-author, Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work

“In Becoming a Good Relative, with an unflinching gaze Giovale offers her own story as a pathway for settlers to reach into their own stories for the tools they need to become whole. Being a good relative begins with knowing yourself. This book is a beautiful invitation to accept and transform personal and collective settler histories and live alongside Indigenous peoples.” 

—Patty Krawec, Ojibwe Anishinaabe/Ukrainian. author of Becoming Kin: An Indigenous Call to Unforgetting the Past and Reimagining Our Future

“Audre Lorde said the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. Becoming a Good Relative is an invitation for those of us born and raised in the master’s house to walk out the door, take a long, slow breath, humbly listen to the people and lands outside, and let our hearts break open with their stories of what we and our ancestors have done. As we unravel the untruths we’ve been taught about our nation’s history, we will find tools of liberation we never could have imagined from inside. For Hilary Giovale these have included learning, “wit(h)nessing” and then truth-telling about racial and colonial violence; building a ceremonial relationship with the natural world; reclaiming European ancestral songs and languages; feeding and forgiving the ancestors; and giving generously of her love, labor and money in the spirit of gratitude and repair. Her story is an invitation to join her. She’s holding the door open for all of us.”

—Morgan Curtis, Ancestors and Money Coach and author of Decolonial Dames of America

“Told with utter honesty, humility, and profound respect for all of her sources, Becoming a Good Relative not only draws readers in magnetically, it should be required reading for anyone embarking on a journey toward healing and right relationship. It resonates with healing counsel on all octaves, from individual to societal, across cultures and ethnicities, from human to Mother Earth and whatever land we’re each Indigenous to, and from ancestral to present time to future generations. Hilary’s four-year journey describes in exquisite detail how she faced – grappled with – and ultimately integrated and embodied nuanced and painful learnings around white supremacy, privilege, guilt, the impacts of colonization and intergenerational trauma, having slaveholding ancestors, awakening to power differentials, and more. Her story benefits tremendously from the power of her dedicated and devotional listening – to guidance from dreams, the land, her body’s wisdom, and her many mentors. And from her consistent cultural humility and generosity of spirit. With unflinching dedication, perseverance, and compassion, and accompanied by terrific resources to deepen readers’ learnings, this book humanizes Turtle Island’s and Giovale’s own brutal historical legacies, resulting in a journey that’s been blessed by many relatives and alchemized by love.”

 —Nina Simons, author of Nature, Culture & the Sacred, and co-founder, Bioneers 


About the Author

Hilary Giovale is a mother, writer, and community organizer who holds a Master’s Degree in Good and Sustainable Communities. She has taught improvisational women’s dance and has served on the boards of philanthropic, human rights, and environmental organizations. A ninth-generation American settler, she is descended from Celtic, Germanic, Nordic, and Indigenous peoples of Ancient Europe. For most of her life, these origins were obscured by the delusion of whiteness, until a series of ancestral interventions began in her early 40s. After learning more about her ancestors, Hilary found herself emerging from a fog of amnesia, denial, and fragmentation. For the first time, she could see a painful reality: her family’s occupation of this land has harmed Indigenous and African peoples, cultures, and lifeways. With this realization, her life changed. Hilary lives into this question as an act of love for the ancestors, the waters, and future generations. She is an active speaker, teacher, and reparative philanthropist. Divesting from whiteness, she bridges divides with truth, healing, apology, and forgiveness. She follows Indigenous and Black leadership in support of human rights, environmental justice, and equitable futures.


Marketing Information

Why to Buy: This book is for white Americans who care about transforming the current social and environmental crises. It is for those who became sensitized during the racial justice uprisings of 2020. Readers who purchased Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Ibram X Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, and Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race in the months following the murder of George Floyd followed an urgent, collective impulse that has been trying to reawaken since the civil rights movement. During 2020, multitudes of white Americans became outraged about the racial terror People of Color have been experiencing for a long time. After protesting in the streets and reading the aforementioned titles, however, many felt overwhelmed, hopeless, and unsure how to move forward. Becoming a Good Relative offers a remedy for the debilitating shame that can overtake white Americans when we face systemic white supremacy.

This book is for Americans who give. In 2021, individuals directed $327 billion toward charitable giving. Sixty-seven percent of the philanthropic gifts in the United States came from individuals in 2021, primarily those of modest income levels. Becoming a Good Relative is for those who regularly make small-scale contributions, adding up to tremendous impact. The author invites this audience to consider how history can inform their giving, contributing to increased environmental and social wellbeing. Because this memoir includes Giovale’s personal stories of wealth redistribution, it also speaks to those who have access to wealth and institutional philanthropic networks. Book clubs seeking personal stories and practical steps for decolonization, earth-based spirituality, and ancestral healing will appreciate this book as well.

Keywords: human rights; environmental justice; white fragility; healing; ancestral legacies; Indigenous; African American; relational philanthropy; community organizing; grassroots; sacred sites; memoir; colonization; enslaved people; Black Americans; ancestral memory; LandBack; reparations; decolonization

Special requirements for Academics: Sociology courses; political science; Indigenous and African American studies. The author has extensive experience as a public speaker and will speak at colleges and universities.


SPECS
Becoming a Good Relative
Nonfiction
Format: Trade Paperback
Price: $21.95 (CA $29.98)
Page Count: 360 pages
Trim Size: 6 x 9
ISBN: 979-8-9876631-7-2
Publication Date: SEPTEMBER 2024
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
RIGHTS: WOR
Rights & Publicity contact: Dede Cummings
dede@greenwriterspress.com

BISAC Subject Categories Primary: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Activism & Social Justice
BISAC Subject Categories Secondary: NATURE / Environmental Conservation & Protection


Distributor: IPG; also available through Ingram, Follett/Baker & Taylor, and other wholesalers.

Individuals can pre-order directly from Bookshop.org, online, or contact your local, independent bookstore. GWP supports independent bookstores and over 50% of our sales come from the trade!
Booksellers, libraries, colleges/universities, gift shops, etc., can order directly through IPG:
Independent Publishers Group
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Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741
E-mail:   frontdesk@ipgbook.com

For a media review copy—digital or print—email dede@greenwriterspress.com