by Jade Fang
Listening to another incredible keynote speaker. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world today. And my mind is filled with how is this relevant for POCA.
The text of the speech isn't available online yet but here is a description of a similar speech she presented in a similar context:
“Venice Williams, Executive Director of Alice’s Garden and SeedFolks Ministry
Outpost’s keynote speaker, Venice Williams, addressed the room on the topic of Food Justice.
She introduced the term, “culinary capital,” referring to the dietary preferences of shoppers who would
patronize a store like Outpost, preferences such as vegetarian, vegan, organic, local, etc. She expressed
concern about those who are left without access to food – those who don’t eat the way we do, who
don’t have access and feel shame. She described it as a caste system that divides us by food. She
explained that we have to talk about food justice, about who grows the food, about money and living
conditions. Venice encouraged everyone to step out of their comfort zones and reach into neighborhoods where
people don’t have access and can’t afford fresh, nourishing food. Be part of the community; help
Milwaukee become a city that builds access for everyone. There is nothing greater than food justice,
and nothing greater than sharing.”
What Venice Williams said today about the courage to challenge the new food caste system applies every bit as much to POCA. It echos what I read from Lisa last night about what acupuncturists are taught in schools about good patients.
Let's change some words. Language is so powerful. Good patients, deserving patients, patients who care about their health. Why do we care about these smoking drinking couch potato eating junk food patients who can't afford us? They don't deserve us.
Let's take a look at this.
The wellness system is also filled with buzz words bring you status (wellness, health, balance, eating clean, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, organic).
When someone is being lifted up, someone else is being put down. When we elevate some people as good patients, we have conversations about bad patients.
So imagine your favorite patient, Mrs. Smith. She is cauasian middle class. Healthy, conscious, eats well, exercises often, get treatments regularly, never putting up a fuss about cost. She always values your advice and trusts the herbs you recommend. She started a Tai Chi regimine and put her kids on some of your herbs. She bakes super yummy super healthy gluten free stelvia cookies for you.
Then imagine your not as much favorite patient, Mr. Dole. He is a retired working class man. Always too loud, smokes, drinks, overweight, never exercises, works too hard doing whatever hurts him the most, makes a fuss when you tell him he has to come in more. Just wants acupuncture nothing else. Always complains that he's still hurting. Laughs at you about all this new agey fluff. Jokes that you should bring him a beer and steak with your treatment.
We need to be aware of how we're sending a message that the way people live is wrong.
There is no place for shame in our movement.
How the traditional acupuncturist culture feel superior because they live “better”.
Last POCAtech I chatted with some people about how I hate fake conversations with regular acupuncturists.
They're so fluffy, so soft, and so ugh fake. What is your expertise? Who did you study with? What kind of lifestyle do you live? Are you juicing?
I want real gritty conversations about things that makes me cry in my clinic with frustration, with anger, and with love.
Why do we equate wealthy with healthy? What issues are we hiding about class and race here?
You think that poverty means that people don't care about their health. You think that just because people can't afford to make health a priority and pay $75 a treatment every two week they don't care and aren't worth caring about?
That's fundamentally wrong.
Everyone cares about their health. But in different ways.
Diversity is not about you being a hero, an expert who comes in to save these people who don't know how to live “right”.
Venice uses a beautiful example of how people of color have known about kale for a long time and cooked kale long before it became a superstar super food. And now we have all this food porn about kale and we're going to go into low income communities and teach them how to cook with this new superfood?
Do you treat your “bad” patients with respect?
This is why we need POCAtech.
We need to change the conversation. We need to transform the language. We need to understand that just because people can't afford $75 acupuncture treatments doesn't mean they don't care about their health. Just because they smoke and they drink or they are overweight doesn't mean they need to be educated on the “right” way to live.
We need POCAtech so we can have truthful honest conversations about class and race. We need POCAtech because it's time to change the system. We need POCAtech because it's time to engage all sorts of people as producers of acupuncture. And not only the right sorts of malibu barbie acupuncturists.
Lets create an honest system where there is true respect for the hard lives that our not so ideal patients live. So we can live authentically with each other.