Well now, this past weekend was the 10th Annual Portland Plant Medicine Gathering, held in Southwest Portland at the National University of Natural Medicine. I was excited to attend this conference as it has been on my radar for the past ten years and I was finally able to attend! I was also quite pleased to see the amount of work that has gone into making the conference one of the more actively inclusive events I’ve seen here in Portland and in Oregon as a whole for that matter.
Right on their home page they lay out their position quite clearly as it says:
“With full awareness that we live in a white supremacist patriarchal culture and that the practice of herbalism in this country historically has been represented through a European lens, this conference does not support or tolerate cultural appropriation, racism, sexism, fat-phobia, homophobia, or any forms of oppression. This gathering aims to create a space outside of this culture where diversity is welcomed and celebrated. “
It is encouraging to see such blatant regard for the current circumstances here in these United States of America. It was also refreshing to see that the intensive being offered on Friday was called “But I am an Ally: How Healing and Herbalism can be Oppressive and How to Not be That “Ally” the intensive was being lead by La Loba Loca. I’m really glad to have attended this intensive and for Loba to be willing to talk with me later in the weekend as well.
During the interview Loba came to a conclusion that capitalism is a trap. Capitalism is a trap, isn’t it?…
And that conclusion goes back to the dismantling of these systems of oppression if we are to move forward in a sustainable and just way. What does that look like? What does it mean? From my viewpoint and positionality, it means being ever more aware of the privileges I have and how I am playing into the dominant culture and to check this as often as possible to transform it. This podcast right here is an example of that. I’m operating from within the systems and doing what I can to observe them from different perspectives and then speak to what I’m seeing through a racial equity lens, because I don’t like what I see. Repeatedly during the intensive Loba mentioned that unless we are actively working towards dismantling these systems of oppression, we cannot really move forward doing things like thinking it is okay to practice medicine from other cultures that aren’t your own, even if you have been given permission from someone of that culture because even a single person is not an entire cultural group and the power dynamics and likely a colonial settlers mind set have led them to be willing to grant that permission. Regardless of the circumstances, I admit that it is tricky and rather difficult to navigate this concept. I come by these difficulties honestly as I have been born into these systems that exist currently. Nevertheless that does not excuse me from broadening my perspectives and raising my awareness about how oppression affects others and how it affects me, too. We all suffer from this.
Well, I’m really glad to have shared in the half day intensive with Loba and the 40 or so females who participated as well. There really needs to be more men (especially white men) stepping up and getting involved in confronting and reckoning with white supremacy and transforming the dominant culture around the patriarchy and I will continue to work towards engaging and brining in more men to this movement. And I must admit, it was an absolute pleasure and an honor to meet La Loba Loca and participate in this intensive.
La Loba Loca is amazing by the way. La Loba Loca is a Queer, Chocolla, Andina, South American migrant, artist, researcher, writer, handpoke tattooist, full spectrum companion/doula, aspiring midwife student, seed-saver, gardener and yerbetera. Loba is currently based in Los Angeles, CA but constantly travels across Turtle Island and Abya Yala to facilitate shares and circles on herbalism, plant relations, social justice, healing justice and autonomous health. You can go to lalobaloca.com to learn more and here is a link to Loba’s patreon page which is a great example of how to go around capitalism to help support individuals who are doing awesome things.
It genuinely was an honor to share in that half day intensive with Loba and everyone involved and to be able to sit and chat for a bit to share on the podcast as well. Perhaps we can find a way to bring La Loba Loca to PCC for some workshops or a talk. I sure would like that!
Before I wrap this whole thing up I did want to reiterate what Loba mentioned about the pdf. ‘zine that you can download, if you go to indigineousaction.org there are a number of resources that will likely shake up your perspectives around social justice and how best to be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem. The Ally Industrial Complex is a real thing, folks. It’s a tricky road to navigate and I’m still learning my way, I know it is inevitable that I’ll stumble and fall along the path though I am certain, that if we are to truly reach a sustainable and socially just future, we are going to have to come to some serious reckonings and this is one of them along the way.
As always, thanks for tuning in, folks…