July 10, 2020
Dear Fellow Community Members,
How are you, in this moment? We hope that you find yourself safe, well resourced and well taken care of by your community and loved ones.
We’re connecting today as we want to compassionately respond to the current collective uprising that is spanning the globe, sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers in America, and fueled by 400+ years of violent oppression of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour by the dominant systems of white supremacy and racial capitalism. We acknowledge that borders do not separate systems of oppression between so-called Canada and America and that we share a common history of colonial rule, manifesting in both subtle and overt forms of racial violence against Black folks, Indigenous folks and People of Colour, and other marginalized communities.
As members of the psychedelic and plant medicine community, we re-commit to deepening our understanding of the direct impact that colonization and extractivism continues to have on the rights and freedoms of Indigenous communities to freely cultivate and access plant medicines and practice sacred rituals. We recognize that the War on Drugs was implemented to undermine the freedoms of Black folks, Indigenous folks and People of Colour driving racial disparities in the criminal justice systems and effectively ushering in modern-day slavery, by way of draconian sentencing and mass incarceration.
We recognize and strive to connect the dots between systemic racism and the fact that the voices of Black folks, Indigenous folks and People of Colour are vastly underrepresented in psychedelic clinical trials, psychedelic event spaces and leadership positions within the psychedelic community, in addition to written media and story-telling, with limited access to financial resources and appropriate training in the field.
We understand that the burgeoning psychedelic renaissance cannot authentically progress, nor transmute the errors of its past, without first recognizing these injustices and inequities, and actively creating, uplifting and amplifying opportunities for Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the community, and beyond.
As folks organizing in the psychedelic space and community, we understand and acknowledge that we are not immune to racism, and we commit to engaging humbly and courageously in anti-racist practice by deep listening, seeking feedback on, and continually revisiting our original intention to cultivate safer, justice-informed, inclusive communities of practice who are active in reconciliation, eliminating systems of oppression, and environmental stewardship, all of which are branches on the over-arching dominant systems that we all currently live and practice in.
We value the opportunities presented in building relationship and healing with plant and fungi medicines and psychedelic substances, to empathise with those people who share a different lived experience than us, to dissolve the ego and to use these transcendent and often difficult experiences to humble us, and ultimately motivate us toward taking action to protect the well-being of our Earth home and each other; we also recognize the limitations that can come with the psychedelic experience when our intentions are not aligned with the cultural context of the material reality of the lived experience of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour.
When used with intention, and a grounded understanding of the dominant systems of oppression that live within all of us, the teachings of plant and fungi medicines and psychedelic substances may hold the promise of being one tool to help us to expose and heal the generational and ancestral trauma of colonization, and provide an opportunity to honestly reflect on our own internalised bias’ from a place of self-compassion, courage and humility.
Ways in which our intentions are currently reflected in our work with the forum and within our team >>>
- Amplification of the vital voices of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour in the speaker roster; speaking to both racial trauma, psychedelic community and decolonization, as well as subjects beyond this focus; paying these speakers for their energy and time.
- Creation of a cultural safety component by inviting skilled facilitators to hold space specifically for Black folks, Indigenous folks and People of Colour, in addition to a Psychological First Aid space.
- Providing 60+ scholarships to folks with multiple barriers to access, to attend the forum at no cost, in addition to being able to provide low cost tickets to attend the event.
- On-going re-evaluation and reflection of our own cultural competency and anti-racist practice.
In solidarity and gratitude,
The 2020 Psychedelic Psychotherapy Steering Committee
Mercedes CA Grant