POCA and Racism

From POCA’s mission statement:

People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA) is a member-run 501(c)(6) non-profit organization whose mission is to work cooperatively to increase accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments. We envision a world in which every community has access to local, affordable acupuncture to reduce collective and individual suffering and nurture resilience. 

POCA members work together to:

  • Build healthy relationships, collaborate, and share knowledge among acupuncturists, students, community acupuncture clinics, Auricular Acu-technicians (AATs), patients and community members. 
  • Develop and support best practices for affordable acupuncture clinics.
  • Create sustainable, enriching, living-wage jobs for the staff and owners of affordable acupuncture clinics.
  • Create more equity in healthcare systems.
  • Build alliances with organizations working to create equitable communities and sustainable, just economies.
  • Work with regulators to ease entry into the acupuncture profession and engage with legislative processes to ensure safety and access are prioritized.
How shall POCA the issues of structural racism, Orientalism and cultural appropriation in the practice of acupuncture? These things do not represent “fair treatment for everybody”, and they affect the foundations of the economic relationship we are building.
POCA acknowledges: that it does not have unlimited resources and so must choose carefully, strategically, and pragmatically how to address these issues within its work; that the practices that established acupuncture “in the mainstream” in the US over the last four decades have created a white-dominated profession; that “inclusivity” and “increased diversity” within POCA are not enough — the structure of the acupuncture profession that excludes and marginalizes so many people must be addressed; that racism is a public health issue; that racial injustice is inextricably linked with socioeconomic conditions; that making acupuncture financially accessible is one way of resisting institutional racism; that it’s both more difficult and more worthwhile to address the structural causes of a white-dominated profession than to create an image of diversity; that achieving concrete, meaningful gains with regard to structural racism will require a marathon of effort and not a sprint.
POCA commits itself: to build infrastructure that, wherever possible, includes rather than excludes marginalized people, and to prioritize this effort over “outreach”; to develop resources for its members to help them make their clinics more accessible to marginalized people (example: CEUs for Spanish for POCA clinics); to publicly recognize the crucial historical contributions of the Young Lords, the Black Panthers, and Miriam Lee to community acupuncture; to develop long term strategies to ease entry into the practice of acupuncture.
POCA recommends: that all members watch, listen to, or read Tyler Phan’s POCAfest presentation on neocolonialism/postcolonial criticism in acupuncture that all members critically interrogate their individual relationship to the Orientalism and cultural appropriation that characterizes acupuncture in the West; that members who wish to support explicit anti-racist/abolitionist social justice work offer their resources to organizations that have this mission and are led by people of color ( example: Black Lives Matter).
Please also see POCA’s Statement on Systemic Racism