June 11, 2020.
I have been a psychotherapist since 2002. Over the years, I have sat with gang youth, domestic violence victims and perpetrators, held space for grieving parents, while over time, my private practice evolved into a therapy/coaching model focused on relational trauma. In 1999, I was in LA and left acting for graduate school after the shooting at my high school, Columbine (Class of 1981). I was a new therapist during 9-11. I came out as a lesbian at the late age of 46 and continue to work on my personal healing from a lifetime of living silenced. I have held thousands of hours of horrific experiences. I cry for others in the comfort of my home or in my therapist’s office. Sometimes, I have trouble liking the human race, yet love the people who come to me to reorganize their sense of self. I love the community I’m held by. I’ve matured through my work, my process, and my education. I know I still have much to learn.
I, as many therapists find their calling, come to relational trauma directed by my personal wrestling to heal my life of wounding. I was called to depth psychology, a theory of going into soul work, meet the unconscious, delve into shadow spaces. It is alchemical, archetypal, seeking resonance with our mythical journey. Dreams and the imaginal are central to understanding cultures and individuals. We each are wounded healers, no matter how we exchange money and ideas in the world.
After over 20 years of sitting with others, leading workshops and motivating large groups, I know my personal struggle, the inner voice, ruminating of self-loathing, my longing to belong, the haunting of childhood secrets. My personal work always has to be met or I have no right to sit for others.
My sitting is different this year. As the entire planet is in a struggle together, each day exposed to another layer of community trauma. Each day the narratives for my clients are not individual, differentiated from one another, but the same: Covid, political unrest, suffering at borders of immigration, uncertainty as a collective, racism, black lives matter. Every day, every hour I am living my personal experience, while listening to clients, supporting their journeys, and watching the collective with a depth psychological lens.
Uncertainty is a human condition, but now it has been put on the table in aggressive and violent ways for the first time since Viet Nam. At 56 years old, my generation and all after us have not experienced this much transformative turmoil as a planetary community. Because of this, as a whole and, especially in the United States, we don’t have a cultural resilience model. I walked into a warehouse store the first week of Covid warnings of isolation and witnessed the panic—over toilet paper. People all over our country were losing their minds over toilet paper. I stood as a researcher that day, watching the disconnect and absolute panic.
I listened to the embodied experience as a collective, projected over the loss of comfort of knowing toilet paper. These people could not rationally pause and find a bidet. It wasn’t the toilet paper shortage that was the problem, it was the lack of cultural resilience and not knowing how to navigate uncertainty that was central to those issues. Masks are a battleground for freedom, not about owning uncertainty or owning the shadow of relational trauma, the embodied impact of colonialism, the festering wound of an uncontrolled and uncontrollable state of economy, choice, and lack of freedom for all people.
Full up, we witnessed, over a month, a series of recorded murders of black people.
Another cold, brutal murder. Witnessing George Floyd’s murder was our breaking point, as a nation, no matter which side of the political fence we stand. Why it took this long, I won’t even begin to try to speak to that but…
I will say I stand on the side of justice for change.
I will also say, I have not been engaged fully in the battle for justice. I am learning and will learn alongside many of you.
I have been in a community of white people recognizing the inherent missing of women and people of color in psychedelic research and activism. I’ve been on panels speaking on topics of access and medical research and psychological integration in rooms of white people. We name it. We invite dialogue. We saw more people of color coming to gatherings to share, that is, before Covid halted our gatherings.
Today, I ask the psychedelic community, both research and recreational, to consider their privilege One. More. Time.
At this moment in history, we must step forward as psychedelic activists and clearly name what is missing so that we DO NOT establish a new level of access, destigmatization, legalization, or normalization of psychedelics with the absence of those who came before us in ritual, enslaved, oppressed, marginalized—BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color.
We MUST establish this stage of psychedelic use and destigmatization with absolute action and step aside as white-people-know-best to instead BE agents of change, listening to the oppressed, and joining in allegiance to absolute free choice for how we, as a planetary culture, use medicine/psychedelics FOR ALL PEOPLE.
We must name oppressors, molesters, abusers, manipulators, and yes—patriarchal habituations of misogyny—in our system, our culture of so-called “wokeness” and drug elitism.
“SAY HER NAME! BREONNA TAYLOR! SAY HER NAME! BREONNA TAYLOR! . . .”
I said her name and wept. I didn’t know her name a few weeks ago. I should never have known her name, not this way. I “took a knee” for 9 minutes. I wept as the young people next to me laid face down on the wet grass and I thought of their parents.
“SAY HIS NAME! GEORGE FLOYD! SAY HIS NAME! GEORGE FLOYD! . . .”I thought of his family, of him as a baby, the video, I watched his death. I wept.
“HANDS UP! DON’T SHOOT! HANDS UP! DON’T SHOOT! . . .” I held my hands in the air for the first time in my life as a recognition of a cultural trauma that is NOT embedded in this pain body.
We gathered under stormy skies, lightening emphasizing the demand to know what we will do as white people, for the rest of our lives, to make change.
I have been called to psychedelics and we are part of the change we must see in the world.
I recently read the following in a post I could not find again after copying it, if you know this statement, please let me know who it was.
“Racism is the burden of black people, but the problem of white people. Nothing is going to change if those having racial biases, fears, insecurities about black people, don’t do any inner work and are not even accountable for their crimes. It’s our turn, yes, dear white folks here, to do something to resolve our problem of racism.”
Psychedelic community. Do your work. Do REAL inner work. Stop projecting your shit on others, on women, ignoring appropriation and marginalization in our community.
2020 is our time, use it well.
Please consider the following resources. Sharing this list does not imply endorsement, now or in the future, by Danielle Wise. Make more lists, share on psychedelic pages.
Commentary through psychedelic organizations:
“Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination” by Robin D.G. Kelley
“Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color”
by Andrea Ritchie http://invisiblenomorebook.com/
“From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation” by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
“From Here to Equality” by William A. Darity Jr. & A. Kirsten Mullen
“Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America” by Michael Eric Dyson
“White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo https://robindiangelo.com/publications/
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntonsh
A working document for anti-racism resources
Extensive education websites/resources:
Dr. Carl Hart https://drcarlhart.com/
Dr. Joi Lewis, CEO & Founder of Joi Unlimited Coaching & Consulting — https://joiunlimited.com/
Resmaa Menakem, MSW, LICSW, SEP, an expert on conflict, trauma, & violence- https://www.resmaa.com/resources
Rsmaa Menakem, Cultural Somatics Course (free)- https://culturalsomaticsuniversity.thinkific.com/courses/cultural-somatics-free-5-session-ecourse
BIPOC Project: “Building solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice.” https://www.thebipocproject.org/
Support and befriend black owned businesses in your town.