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.
The Murder of George Floyd and Demonstrations Against Systemic Racism: Responses from the Integrative Community (June 7)
More Integrative Responses to the Outing of Systemic Racism: Signs of Being Woke – But Are We Getting Out of Bed? (June 28)
I asked the organizations’ leaders to send no more than 300 words. Most complied. With one exception, I chose to contact just those organizations that had been in the June sets. (The exception was Northwestern Health Sciences University that recently produced a useful Policy Statement, reported in Integrator 257.) Thus, not captured here are actions of institutions and organizations missed the first time around. Most chose to send statements for this follow-up. Here they are. What do you think of this level of activity from a field that has, rightfully, often due to its own structural reasons, been challenged since its appearance on equity, diversity, and service to the underserved?
Addressing the field’s shadow in this arena has for the last 10 years been led by IM4US. Good to see the organization hit the threshold of 50% of their board reflecting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities. Board president Udaya Thomas, MSN, MPH, APRN emailed me this statement.
Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US) increased the diversity of our Board of Directors to 50% from BIPOC communities, shared implicit bias training materials with board, staff, and members, and focused our annual conference on structural racism and integrative health equity. IM4US shared our Solidarity Statement and participated in round table discussions with the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine.
The following excerpt from our 2018 Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion framework is a reflection of our historical commitment to this work since the inception of IM4US in 2009. Other integrative health organizations have utilized this framework to create their own statements and to place greater focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in their organization.
Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Statement
As integrative health professionals and advocates from diverse personal and professional traditions, we hold a vision of our common humanity and interconnectedness. We serve people profoundly impacted by social inequities and injustice, and we are uniquely situated to address the resulting barriers to health. In 2019, Gail Christopher spoke of the “hierarchies of human value”* – including but not limited to racism/colorism, sexism, and classism – are built into our society structurally, and we recognize them as root causes of trauma and illness. We also recognize the hierarchies that exist within health care work and believe that the inclusion of a wide range of healers representing different healing systems enhances our ability to provide optimal care. We are committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion as healing and unifying forces in our practices, organization, and society. We work to advance health equity through anti-racism and other anti-oppression work as individuals and as an organization. We prioritize increasing many forms of diversity in our organization, welcoming the inclusion of all voices, and promoting open dialogue.
IM4US will continue to address systemic racism as an organizational priority.
The executive director of IHPC, Tracy Bowen, forwarded this statement. The work to date appears to be in board training, and firming up the nature of their commitments.
IHPC is deeply committed to the dismantlement of systemic racism and to elevating equity, diversity, inclusion, and social justice (EDISJ) in every arena of the organization. We are committed to building an inclusive and socially just organization that uses its assets and programs to address these issues and fosters a new paradigm in healthcare that allows us to achieve our mission of removing all barriers to healthcare and providing equitable access to all.
Recognizing that the work requires us to first undertake self-reflection and acquire greater self-awareness the IHPC Board will begin by participating in Life University’s Compassionate Integrity Training course. We recognize the need to start with a beginner’s mind, and that bias, racism, cultural insensitivity, and lack of awareness begins with the individual.
Simultaneously, the EDISJ Committee is being launched. The focus of their work will be multi- faceted, and will begin to address many issues, including but not limited to:
The executive director of AIHM, Tabatha Parker, ND, forwarded this overview with a note that it “was put together by some of our BIPOC Task Force – Scarlet Soriano, Yvette Miller, Jean Davis Hatcher, and Rachel Abrams.” Action includes a high focus in AIHM’s annual conference. The plan going forward includes planned collaboration with other organizations.
At times of unprecedented shift, major breakthroughs have followed a period of human suffering; now is no exception. The death of George Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic and the stark reality of inequity and healthcare disparities have mobilized millions of people around the world to stand against racism, fight for climate justice and demand health care as a human right. In response, in June 2020 the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) initiated monthly webinars in the Fight Against Racism and founded the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Task Force to guide important changes in our Annual Conference and the composition of our faculty and board membership.
Our AIHM October 9-11, 2020 Conference became more than a conference; it was a movement. Our conference was a call to action for all health care providers with participants from 38 countries. The AIHM stepped forward to explore the ways in which structural racism has woven itself into our institutional body and the larger bodies of Integrative health and healthcare in general.
The Academy added 4 People of Color to the Conference Committee and 2 Women of Color were elected to the AHIM Board of Directors. The BIPOC Task Force members were presenters at the Conference. We invited renowned speakers such as Dr. Richard Allen Williams and Dr. Gail Christopher. The Task Force facilitated a panel (Health Disparity Leadership Panel) and three Round Tables (COVID 19, Environmental Health, Social Health and Equity, and Resilience and Successes).
The Task Force has hosted multiple webinars related to Health Equity, Discrimination and Inclusion. In collaboration with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, our most recent webinar was “Medical Ethics in Underserved Communities”. Dr. Homero del Pino was our guest speaker. On December 8, we hosted an informational webinar providing others the opportunity to join our task force membership. We also plan to partner with various organizations to collaborate in dismantling structural racism and nurturing equitable and socially just Integrative health for all.
The executive director of “The Consortium”, Dale West, CAE, forwarded this statement from the representatives of the most powerful mainstream-based stakeholder in the space. (Notably, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the mainstream organization to which the Consortium’s members belong, has in this period, acted – among other things – to strip the name of the known racist and sexist Abraham Flexner from its top prize.) The Consortium has clarified action in 5 areas.
The 21 year old Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health began as a visionary concept and commitment to integrative medicine, shaped by core values that remain to this day a driving force in the growth and increasing impact of this organization and its members worldwide. Our vision is a transformed healthcare system promoting integrative medicine and health for ALL. Healthcare equity is one of our main themes in the Integrative Medicine & Health Symposium hosted by the Academic Consortium in April 2021.
The Academic Consortium has pledged its resources, membership service and allied relationships in staunch support of social justice with five specific action steps:
The Academic Consortium is working to advance this developing field, inclusive of diverse disciplines, cultures and people, to transform healthcare delivery, making integrative medicine and health accessible to all.
The associate director, for Fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, Lise Alschuler, ND, forwarded this contributions. Actions steps have included new, targeted scholarships, and a commitment to expanding diversity content.
In the wake of the death of George Floyd and with a renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the Andrew Weil Center of Integrative Medicine (AWCIM) has made several changes. The center solidified our commitment to DEI with the development of a DEI statement which is found on the homepage of our website. The statement reads:
We, at the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, are committed to the value and practice of diversity and inclusiveness. The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine recognizes and welcomes the talents, worldviews, perceptions, cultures and skills that diverse communities bring to our educational offerings. Native American, LGBTQ, individuals of African, Asian, European, Indian, and Latin ethnicity, all cultures, veterans, people with disabilities, people of faith, and many other communities of students, staff and faculty contribute positively to all dimensions of the Center. Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for the University of Arizona and for the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine.
In the past several months, we have also added several new scholarships specifically for students from marginalized and underserved backgrounds for our Integrative Health and Lifestyle Program. We also have new scholarships available for students in the Integrative Medicine Fellowship who “have experience in modern biomedicine and indigenous healing and show a commitment to bringing integrative care to indigenous communities and areas of the underserved.”
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Arizona College of Medicine now requires all staff and faculty at the College of Medicine, AWCIM included, to complete a minimum of 6 hours of DEI training annually. To support the Center in meeting this requirement and to find additional ways to deepen our commitment to DEI, the Center now has a DEI champion with the College of Medicine DEI Office. Finally, we are intent upon expanding diversity content within our curriculum.
On a new webpage devoted to “Race, Racism, and Integrative Care Conversation and Action,” the president of NWHSU, Deb Bushway, PhD, offers a powerful 2 minute and 50 second personal and institutional commitment. The Minnesota university’s proximity to the Floyd murder clearly shook Bushway into action. The multiple compelling actions – including a Policy Position featured in Integrator #257 – reported here via Michele Maiers, DC, MPH, PhD, NWHSU’s executive director of research and innovation, is both present action and part of what Bushway calls “the long game” to which she has committed the institution.
COVID-19 has amplified healthcare inequities faced by people of color. The tragic death of George Floyd further illustrated this public health issue. Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU) is located in a suburb of Minneapolis, where Floyd’s death took place. We felt the immediate and sobering impact of this tragedy on the health and wellbeing of our community. As a result, NWHSU President Dr. Deb Bushway has rededicated University efforts for a more comprehensive approach to diversity, equity and inclusion.
NWHSU’s Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy developed a policy report, Racial Inequities in Integrative Healthcare, exploring the impact of systemic bias in healthcare and its effects on access and usage of complementary and integrative healthcare (CIH). This report is housed on a new University webpage, intended to invite conversation and engagement about what race and racism means for our professions and communities.
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is creating anti-bias initiatives embedded within the curriculum, student experience, and employee development. A Racial Health Disparities Task Force has been launched to identify opportunities for integrative providers to partner with communities of color. One example is NWHSU’s recent partnership with Minneapolis community leaders to establish the Restorative Wellness Response, using integrative care to create greater wellbeing in communities of color as a form of passive resistance to racism.
On campus, NWHSU’s student services department has been working closely with student Diversity Scholars to host campus-wide listening sessions, seminars and panel discussions on race. Our February chiropractic homecoming program will feature a panel discussion of alumni of color who provide care in communities of color, sharing insight about culturally competent care.
We recognize these efforts only scratch the surface of all we can and should do to create a more just society and greater health among communities of color. We remain committed to this purpose.
One of the very few organizations in the integrative space that can claim BIPOC roots is the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, the executive director for which, Sara Bursac, provided the statement below. A part of their work has been to connect to that history. (See the related Integrator story here.)
On June 8, NADA issued a statement of solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives in which we stated: “Structural change cannot happen without the individual components engaging in their own transformation and evolution of undoing racism. NADA pledges to do its piece in this learning and transformation, and to share its process with the community.” Beginning with its leadership, NADA has been in a process of self-assessment and change. Read our full community update with a detailed timeline of activities.
At its 2020 annual meeting held in late June NADA’s board of directors elected a new president, treasurer and secretary, forming a new executive committee with the existing vice president; this committee is 100% BIPOC. Later in the summer the board gathered to reflect on the organization’s history and engage in courageous conversations with one another. As an outcome of these meetings, the executive committee has begun to outline an organizational work plan that reflects community healing and antiracism in every project, beginning with a revision of NADA’s mission statement. The new mission statement will be released in January 2021.
In our message commemorating Truthsgiving, we recognize that our work has roots in this continent’s radical social movements, movements that ask us to look at systemic origins behind present conditions. This summer’s protests in defense of Black life coincided with new public history projects related to NADA’s own revolutionary history. In July the board submitted a letter in support of a compassionate release of Mutulu Shakur, a pivotal leader in the development of the NADA protocol. In November, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Lincoln Detox and announced a community history series, #ReclaimingNADAsOrigins, which we will launch in 2021.
Additional actions have included creating a sliding scale for membership renewals and virtual events. Our monthly Membership Cafés and the Southwest Regional Meeting have highlighted BIPOC members’ work as well as the Membership Spotlight series, featured on our website and in member emails. Learn more in our full community update.
The Society for Integrative Oncology submitted this “Follow-up Progress Report on Health Equity and Inclusion in 2020” on their actions from board member Jodi MacLeod and president Ting Bao, MD, MS. A new task force with a direct link to the executive committee is a key, structural step.
The Society for Integrative Oncology has developed initiatives this year to address cancer health inequities and build diversity and inclusion in our society. At our annual Board of Trustees meeting on October 15th, SIO created the Health Equity & Inclusion Task Force, naming Board member Ana Maria Lopez, MD, MPH, Health Equity Liaison to the Board and Executive Committee. Dr. Lopez has dedicated her career as researcher and author to improving equitable, accessible cancer care to underserved communities.
SIO is proud of our work on behalf of the Navajo Nation. As the first wave of COVID-19 infections devastated the Navajo People, many of whom lack electricity and running water, SIO partnered with Tony Redhouse, Navajo recording artist and spiritual healer, to produce fundraising events for Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC). Using his voice, the flute and drum, Mr. Redhouse led our conference attendees in a live, interactive wellness session that was profoundly moving. Through the use of Cancer Support Community’s donation portal on the SIO website, we helped raise over $6,400 for TCRHCC, which is the only designated cancer center on Native American soil.
Thanks to a conference grant, SIO was able to provide over 80 scholarships in the form of one-year memberships. Awardees included 14 integrative oncologists, researchers and patient advocates from low income countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, Jordan and the Philippines. These new members now have opportunities for publication and mentorship within SIO.
The SIO 2020 Virtual Conference featured Keynote Speaker, Otis Brawley, MD, Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He discussed health disparities in cancer care during the pandemic. From wellness and educational content to the conference, SIO has been engaging in discussions that open eyes, paths, and connections in this commitment to antiracism and health equity in integrative cancer care.
The president of the mulidisciplinary Maryland University of Integrative Health, Marc Levin, directly sent this notice of their diversity, equity and inclusion action. One step: making Juneteenth – the end of the period of direct, legal slavery in the United States – a school holiday. They appear to have engaged a thorough audit of policies and practices toward furthering their goals.
Maryland University of Integrative Health (MUIH) has implemented numerous initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) since May 2020. Two external consultants were engaged to provide expertise and assist with the self-evaluations and actions to be taken.
The university-wide DEI committee expanded its membership, increased its meeting frequency, and increased its activities including creating monthly calendars of observances with links to educational opportunities. Juneteenth was established as an annual university holiday. Expanded ongoing training programs, discussions, conversations related to DEI topics were implemented for faculty, staff, and students.
To ensure equitable hiring practices and a larger and more diverse pool, job descriptions were evaluated for education and experience levels from a DEI lens, the posting of new positions was expanded to a broader array of sites, and more candidates have been interviewed than in the past. Surveys and open forums were conducted with students to assess DEI experiences at MUIH and similar activities for faculty and staff are planned.
With respect to academics, the Anti-Racism and Intercultural Competency in the Curriculum (ARICC) Working Group [see here for an MPH program example] was created to examine DEI within the curriculum and develop a plan to better incorporate anti-racism education and build intercultural competency through MUIH’s programs. ARICC developed and piloted a course review rubric which will be implemented in addition to identifying resources for faculty to use to enhance DEI in their courses. Students and faculty were surveyed about DEI in the curriculum. The Faculty Senate developed a diversity statement and commitment to inclusiveness in the educational process and the annual All Faculty meeting focused solely on DEI. A new library eBook collection was established that focuses on DEI and health care disparities. The acupuncture department completed a two-year exploration of culturally sensitive nomenclature resulting in a new department name and submitting program title changes for approval.
The CEO for the Institute for Functional Medicine, Amy R. Mack, MSES/MPA, provided this overview. The organization has been active, adding new diversity in its board, diversifying its educators, working to structurally thread DEI into their values and, through changing coursework, their materials. They lay out priorities on the near horizon.
The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) is committed to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive future for the functional medicine and wellness field. We strive to embody this change within IFM and partner with others in our collective responsibility to reduce health disparities and injustices experienced by all patients, practitioners and individuals.
Over the last six months we have taken the following actions:
Much work remains, including:
The Integrator received this “Response to request from the Integrator Blog” from Annette Bernat, the ACA’s VP for branding and communications. A key structural step: elevate its diversity team to “full committee status.”
The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) took steps to raise awareness of issues of diversity long before the summer of 2020. In early 2017, ACA formed a diversity commission to begin a discourse among ACA members on issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. In 2018, the commission drafted a diversity statement for ACA that acknowledges the importance that cultural competency plays in the ability of doctors of chiropractic to deliver quality health care, improve patient outcomes and engage in public health initiatives.
In June 2020, ACA called for greater racial equality and pointed to the negative impact that racism has on the health and wellness of communities nationwide. Also in 2020, ACA elevated the ACA Commission on Diversity to full committee status through the creation of the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), and has taken steps to engage doctors of chiropractic on a wider scale by establishing a forum for communication. Scheduled for December 2020, the EDI Forum will host a leadership roundtable that brings together leaders from across the chiropractic profession to highlight diverse perspectives from a broad range of stakeholders through a conversation that explores how organizations and communities are responding to diversity-related issues.
ACA’s commitment to continuing conversations and learning surrounding diversity issues extends to its education programming as well. The association will feature two new diversity-related programs during its annual meeting, ACA Engage, in February 2021: One that focuses on cultural competency and sensitivity in the healthcare setting and another that trains doctors of chiropractic to screen for social health disparities in the community health setting. Learn more about the event at acatoday.org/Engage.
The AACIPM is leading a network of some 4-score of organizations and stakeholders toward an integrative pain management futures. The organization’s director Amy Goldstein, MSW, sent this overview. The focus was highlighted in a series of symposia.
(AACIPM) focused attention in 2020 on the racial and systemic inequities in our healthcare systems. Our core work is about changing the paradigm to advance comprehensive integrative pain management. COVID-19 has exposed the deeper inequities that we are synthesizing this experience from the payor, provider and person with pain perspective.
AACIPM symposia bring together payors, providers and people with pain to share data and discuss experiences about what is really happening. For example, Optum data highlights the challenges with access and utilization, revealing that in some zip codes, there are no licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, or physical therapists, even when coverage for these services is available. It also shows the low number of people of color as providers. Additionally, some business coalition leaders are highlighting this information for decision-makers who purchase employee-sponsored health plans. Employers need to understand that they are paying for coverage that is not equally accessible to all their employees and their family members due to racial and systemic inequities.
AACIPM also disseminates important information relevant to understanding the inequities in accessing comprehensive integrative pain management, such as interviews about Pain Care in an FQHC, Acupuncture Cultural Competency, and importance of ECHO. We focus on synthesizing information to get in front of the right stakeholders to promote policy and practice changes for integrative pain care.
The INM is a not-for-profit charitable organization that is aligned with the naturopathic medical profession and engages in multiple projected including convening the profession-wide Naturopathic Medicine Collaborative. Caitlin Taylor, INM’s operations and development manager, provided this contribution.
Back in July the INM and AANP [American Association of Naturopathic Physicians] undertook a collaborative fundraising effort at the AANP Gala to support an upcoming push for improved diversity, equity and inclusion across the profession. The nearly $20,000 that was raised is marked for a four-pronged strategy. First, a relationship with a consultant who has expertise and experience implementing broad changes. Second, through that partnership, an implicit bias training for national leaders working on these issues. Then we’ll work with our consultant partner on a strategic plan that is concrete, accountable and achievable to implement reforms across the profession both institutionally and culturally. And as part of that, this partnership will develop materials for clinicians and naturopathic organizations with policy templates, practical training, and other resources to better serve our patients and community.
While change cannot come fast enough, this process is slow and intentional in order to make sure the right decisions are made in a sustainable way. The effort is being led within AANP’s existing D&I committee, where INM’s operations manager Cait Taylor has led the effort to identify our appropriate consultant partner for the kickoff of this work. We are excited to make that selection in the very near future and have the effort well underway in Q1 2021.
An ascending part of the integrative community is in the creative arts therapies (CATs). Ping Ho, BA, MPH, the executive director of UCLArts and Healing, an increasingly significant player nationally in the CATs field, provided this overview. I edited it some, with comfort: I serve on her board. The statement includes new materials, and information on their historic commitment.
UCLArts & Healing offers professional development and public education in social emotional arts, in which the innate social-emotional benefits of the arts are enhanced by supportive practices, such as non-judgmental language and reflection, to address social-emotional needs in the community.
Our response was first set up by our earlier response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when we launched a free HOPE (Healing Online for People Everywhere) Series featuring individuals from diverse cultures presenting on a variety of art forms, with recordings viewable afterwards. After George Floyd’s murder, the HOPE Series included specific programs to address issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement. Most were presented by African-Americans:
We had previously created accessible professional development opportunities with financial aid support. Our Certificate Program in Social Emotional Arts includes training in trauma-informed and cultural approaches to communication, group cohesion, neurodiversity and learning differences, needs assessment and evaluation, self-care tools for managing stress, presenting yourself, and best practices in a six different art forms. We offer diverse representation in our teaching teams.
The working group coordinator for the multidisciplinary ACIH, Deb Hill, MS, forwarded this message on the organization’s work. The organization is surveying integrative health organizations on the depth of their engagement with integrative initiatives.
In response to the murder of George Floyd, the Academic Collaborative for Integrative Health (ACIH) posted a message from the ACIH Board on systemic racism and health disparities. The vast network of councils of colleges, accrediting agencies, and certification and testing organizations that make up our core membership from the five licensed integrative health professions are all actively engaged in assessing the unique needs and goals needed to embrace antiracist, inclusive and equitable academic communities. ACIH is currently engaged in surveying integrative health organizations related to the depth and scope of their DEI initiatives with the goal of increasing awareness and collaboration across industries. We look forward to meaningful partnerships in the days to come.
This statement was provided by Terri Roberts, JD, RN, executive director of the AHNA and also speaks to work of its sibling organization, the American Holistic Nurses Credentialing Center.
Holistic nurses are a stabilizing presence amidst the growing chaos from these two global pandemics, the rapidly spreading COVID 19 virus and the illumination of systemic racism and healthcare disparities. AHNA & AHNCC [Credentialing Center] took immediate action and responded, assembling resources to support and educate nurses about racial disparity. A repository of self-care web resources, where readers can find the most current, factual information and “Inequality & Racism” in nursing education and healthcare has been developed.
The members of AHNA and AHNCC wish to show our solidarity with those who are courageously condemning racism and discrimination. The joint Position Statement on Racism and Racial Inequality can be found here. More recent collaborative action steps include conducting three town hall meetings. Each one was truly amazing as participants shared their heart, their concerns, and their hopes. Additionally, the AHNA and AHNCC leadership teams launched a continuing professional development initiative that includes participants watching a movie and then attending a Town Hall.
The first movie, “13th”, was riveting! “13th”, a 2016 American documentary by director Ava Du Vernay, explores the “intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States;” It is titled after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.
AHNA and AHNCC will be hosting three movies this winter and spring, all (contact hours offered) followed by a Reflective Dialogue about the movie, and its impact on bringing to light racism, diversity, equity, and social justice. Nurses will have the opportunity to brainstorm doable actions; the AHNA and AHNCC leadership will determine how to best support and even actualize these ideas. AHNA’s Research Connections Newsletter in October was focused on Diversity and Health Disparities with significant nursing research highlighted.
The IAYT’s new executive director Alyssa Wostrel, MBA forwarded this statement that was prepared by members Laurie Hyland Robertson and Marilyn Peppers Citizen who “wrote the attached overview of the DEI effort” together with a number of issues of their newsletter in which they featured various related activities.
In June, the president of the board of directors of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), Matra Majmundar, OT, C-IAYT, shared a message of unity and support for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with IAYT’s membership. She formally committed the organization to supporting the full diversity of the global community of yoga therapists, yoga therapy students, researchers, and those they serve. The framework for IAYT’s continuing growth toward equity and inclusion included the establishment of a DEI task force and DEI town halls, measures that had begun in 2019.
The essence of yoga is unity. Yoga therapists study yoga philosophy and continuously conduct their own self-study to uncover obstacles that contribute to suffering. Their training also involves deep engagement with yoga’s moral restraints and imperatives, ultimately helping them to cultivate an outer world that reflects justice for everyone.
With humility and compassion, IAYT continues to evolve in creating a yoga therapy profession grounded in yoga and in DEI. IAYT’s goal is to build a transparent organizational culture in which all members are valued and have a sense of belonging and purpose. The board of directors created the DEI task force to foster a more diverse organization that better reflects the membership and the yoga therapy community and to inspire a deeper understanding of how DEI manifests in IAYT’s programs, activities, and publications.
Relationships and dialog are central to this work. To date, the task force has met twice and will be meeting again this month. IAYT has held two town halls for its membership to discuss creating a future grounded in DEI and compassionately actualizing nonviolence in anti-racism. Monthly task-force and focus-group meetings will take place throughout 2021.
Click here [YTT Summer 2020_DEI task force.pdf] to read more about IAYT’s DEI commitment and here [sent you several articles; please choose one or more as you see fit] for perspectives from IAYT-certified yoga therapists, all in the most recent issues of Yoga Therapy Today.
The founder and president of CHI, Shamini Jain, PhD began a response though participating in promoting a widely-signed open letter that gained the endorsement of many in the field (including me). The focus is on expanding related programing.
We at CHI were horrified by the murder of George Floyd and felt the call to action along with our colleagues. Our first response was to facilitate a joint letter on systemic racism and trauma in health, which was co-created and signed by many leaders in the integrative community, as well as the public. Following this letter, our core group and BOD members began to engage in deep discussions about how systemic racism affects our organization as well as our field as a whole. In initial response, using our webinars and partner education platforms, this year CHI has fostered expert and online discussions on how systemic racism and monocultural ethnocentrism affects and limits the way we approach the scientific study of integrative approaches (particularly subtle energy healing modalities). We also deeply reflected both internally and on public webinar discussions, the lack of indigenous community representatives on healing both through our group and more globally.
CHI is committed to utilize our science and education platform to facilitate and represent indigenous and minority voices on healing in both the science and education sectors, for a more complete picture of healing. In addition to webinars and discussions we have already held this year, we have several webinars and Ask Me Anything sessions planned for 2021 that represent minority and indigenous voices on the science and practice of healing, and plan to deeply integrate deeper cultural representation and perspective in our upcoming online Biofield Science and Healing Course, which will be offered in 2021. We look forward to helping deepen the collective wisdom and practice of healing through widening our circle to better include indigenous and minority voices both in research collaborations and in education.
My original work did not include action from what is known to many by the phrase incorporated into the national accreditation, certification and education organizations, as “acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.” The George Floyd murder stimulated a flurry of activity organized by lont-time educator David Lee, PhD, and others, to address the legacy of racism and colonial “Oriental” name. I wrote up the work in In the George Floyd Moment: Removing the “O-Word” from Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine.
That articles notes some steps different organizations had already taken, or pledged to take. I did not get back to the leaders for any updates prior to this publication – yet thought the dialogue engaged here merited inclusion.
In the midst of developing this, a newsletter from ACLM arrived that was on target, and so I thought to include ACLM’s work. At present, the organization is “on a mission, as evidenced by the launch of our Health Equity Achieved through Lifestyle Medicine (HEAL) Initiative, to advance our field as a solution to disparities in health outcomes and health care, especially when it comes to lifestyle-related chronic disease.”
The goal is to increase in their programs the representation from what they call underrepresented groups in medicine (UGMs). Their holiday campaign will raise funds for the HEAL Scholarship Fund. Other work noted in a letter from president Dexter Shurney, MD, MPH, MBD, FACLM, DipABLM is a planned 2021 “Health Disparities Solutions Summit.”
This privileged white man’s personal experience of structural inequities is limited. His most significant experience of racial prejudice has likely been unconscious: the positive deference from police and other powers. That person finds these steps heartening. Then again, like Gates, I’m among the millions forced to “deepen my understanding.” I’ve not run these descriptions of steps taken by anyone of color whose life has been shaped and mired and refracted by the adverse consequences of the US’s abiding structural racism. I’ve not asked them how they might judge these statements. Too little too late? Positive steps, in generally the right directions? Some made me proud of the levels of apparent organizational engagement. As one said, this is a long game. It needs continuous check-ins, and continuous work.
Our world of healthcare “integration” is characterized by its own, usually less bludgeoning forms of inequities and bigotry, though without doubt its own legacies of colonialism. These daily allow the leaders of the dominant school of my medicine – as my colleague from 30 years ago, Nancy Aagenes, ND brilliantly captured the power dynamic – to look the other way at power-center’s 250,00 annual deaths a year and countless other morbidities from their regular practices. Meantime, these same dominant players get their boxers in a bunch at potential adverse herb-drug interactions and deny contributions from traditional medicines from around the world. Bigotry?
It’s a good bet that engagement of the broader culture in the necessary reconciliation relative to the legacy of slavery and colonialism will have its positive consequences for our health related efforts. Actions such as each of these organizations are announcing will leave us – especially if taken up in the broader culture – with a more open, humble, and affirming atmosphere among human beings trying to figure out how to bring to bear the best from us each in our medicines, and health. More close at hand, increased awareness of the dark dances of inequities and historical abuses work will likely resound positively into our own work, now.