The murder of George Floyd, and its clearly non-anomalous nature, tooth-picked open the eyes of many white people to the depths of racism, of systematic intrusion of bigotry, and built in barriers to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for vast sets of people of color in the U.S. population. One place the need for re-education in places high and low was evident in the commitment to “deepening my understanding of systemic racism” from Bill Gates. He was explaining his choice for the book at the top of list of 2020 reading: The New Jim Crow. Multiple integrative health and medicine organizations responded to Floyd’s murder with their own statements of solidarity, and of commitment. I reported these just 10 days after Floyd’s death on June 7 (8 organizations) then a second set on June 28 (13 more). As my own commitment, I closed the latter with a promise to check in with these organizations 6 months later to see how they have acted on their commitments. Here is the report-back to the community.
At the time of the murder of George Floyd, members of his immediate family expressed amazement at the influence of his life through the manner of his death. They would not likely have guessed then that the social combustion over systemic racism and related colonial suppression would a month later prompt a community-wide consensus to remove a term that has been central to defining a core field in the integrative health and medicine space. An intense, open, and well-managed exchange has commenced among leaders of the profession of acupuncture and medicine from Eastern Asia to remove from their label a term of a racist and colonial origin: “Oriental.” Executives of the field’s accredited colleges are the core participants in the exchange, and the input has grown from there. Significant agreement exists to remove the term. Replacement may prove more problematic.
A week after the murder of George Floyd, I published brief accounts of some of the integrative health community’s response. I quickly learned that I’d missed statements from some key players. Subsequently, many others were called to make statements. These are evidence that some of white people – and most in the integrative fields are white – in present day parlance, that some are “woke” or waking. The next question, as interviewer Brian Carter put it during a June 21 Seattle Arts & Lectures dialogue with Emory University professor Carol Anderson, author of White Rage and One Person: No Vote, is: “They may be woke – but are they getting out of bed?” There are signs below among some of new actions to make sure there is ongoing, systemic engagement to address the chronic, systemic abuses, micro and macro. Here is a second overview, with links where available. The good news is that many show signs of getting out of bed . Many were called to make public commitments. (In addition, for reference, a include links to two statements from organizations in the dominant school of medicine.)
The most gripping moment for me was quite private after my spouse suggested that we don our COVID masks and join some 5000 others at City Hall on day 6 of Seattle’s demonstrations against police violence against black people, and for massive systemic change. We were sitting on the curb during a break in the action. We were quite aware of how little we know and understand, even with the mentoring of a 24-year-old daughter who is hypersensitive to race issues. We leaned in close to each other as the mixed crowd of humans, nearer our daughter’s age than to our own, milled about. The course of our conversation led us to try to imagine needing to have had “the conversation” 15 or 20 years ago with our now 28 year old son, were we black, and he a young black man coming of age. That being his ritual welcome into adulthood.