“ Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.”
–Adrienne Maree Brown, Author & Activist
A few weeks ago I visited Chicago to attend my favorite annual conference, Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (www.im4us.org). Each year I leave feeling inspired and motivated for a better future, but this experience, my third, was even more profound.
My week was entirely spent focusing on the amazing things people are doing to help the underserved in our communities. We are changing the narrative of a negative society into a helpful and kind one. We learned terms that promote progress and dis-empower hate speech. We are restructuring our medical society to promote health and happiness for all rather than just treat disease. We learned about the importance of local legislation and how much change we can affect at the grassroots level.
It was so refreshing to be offline for the weekend NOT looking at Facebook or the news. I came home from the conference feeling the happiest I’ve been since November. I’m still keeping tabs on all the crazy things that are going on in the world but with renewed optimism and resilience.
I think for a lot of us the major focus of this year is how bad things are.
It is extremely important to #staywoke and the activist in me is not about to turn a blind eye to inequities and atrocities our communities face today. I realize how easy it is to fall into that hopeless hole and lose the inspiration and motivation to keep progressing. I felt like I was torturing myself every morning when I would look on my news feed or Facebook. It wasn’t particularly motivating me to do anything but wallow.
This presidency is going to continue to throw curve ball after curve ball. Maybe that’s the strategy to try to break us down and become complacent again. I’m trying with all my might to not let this become the new norm, and continue to progress to a life of justice and equality.
In light of all of the nonstop chaos, I want to share all of the really good and powerful things that I’ve learned in the past few weeks, things that are actually helping to motivate me to continue to make change, rather than feel hopeless.
Change Makers to Note:
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Christopher speak twice now, and she is always an inspiration. She brought up so many truths about how we speak about racism in our country. Word association is a powerful tool. Imagine if we stopped using the term “Anti-Racism” and changed that to “Racial Healing”? Please check her and her amazing programs out. She is an incredible speaker and powerhouse of action. Here are some of her programs:
Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT)
+ A great video about how to start the “racial healing” conversation. The woman featured in this video happens to be Gail’s daughter!
My take home point from seeing Dr. Rae speak was “Start organizing where you are!” Here’s a list of organizations that are making waves in healthcare.
Public Health Awakened; Organizing for health, equity, and justice
National Collaborative for Health Equity: Working with People, Partners, and Purpose
Physicians for a National Health Program
Radically re-imagining who gets to be well. Mindfulness for the People is aimed at shifting the consciousness of systemic whiteness and promoting awareness of the racial bias in the mindfulness movement.
Dr. Temple is a stellar example of how to advocate with lawmakers! She became inspired by the many studies showing that an increase in access to medical and recreational cannabis significantly reduces the use of opioids as well as a reduction in morbidity and mortality associated with the opioid and heroin crisis.
Dr. Temple along with Illinois House Representative’s Deputy Majority Leader, Lou Lang, worked with patients and policy makers to design the Medical Cannabis Compassionate Pilot Act and the Heroin Crisis Act. This is groundbreaking legislation in the field of chronic pain and addiction!
Many states are incorporating these programs, and as we know in California recreational cannabis is around the corner. For states that do not have legislation in process, this collaboration is an inspiration to what can be done with hard work and teamwork.
Michelle is an Oakland-based nutritionist/herbalist and filmmaker working on a fantastic documentary featuring the communities of the Metta Health Center in Lowell, MA and Street Level Health Project in Oakland, CA.
“Through the perspectives of several patients and health care providers, this character-driven feature documentary touches the heart of current debates on health care at this pivotal moment when medical and immigration reform dominate the country’s consciousness.”
I’m so very excited to see the rest of this incredibly poignant film, and recommend you check out her website.
+++ I spent my last day in Chicago with my dear friend and colleague Aya Nikole Cook at her Haji Healing Salon, Sunday Sanctuary Community Yoga and Acupuncture. Aya is a creative innovator of bringing healing and wellness to her community in Hyde Park and I’m just so excited that she is getting the press that she deserves! Here is an article about her awesomeness!
This Year of the Rooster is a year of truth, focus, and drive.
If you have felt this year as an intense one - you are on point. While it may seem that the world is burning down, it is actually just the truth coming to light. For anyone that has experienced the shock of major deception, you will know that once the truth has been unveiled there is a time of reckoning and a plan for action. We are in the beginning phases of moving from shock and grief, into the phase of progress. Let’s turn off the news, join together, and make a plan for action. The only way we can get out of the muck is for all of us to get together and work for a better future.
I look forward to seeing you all soon.
In community and solidarity, Jessica