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June 14, 2021

Updates on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Initiatives at AIMC

Drawing of four hands holding each others arms with various skin tones

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou

Strategic Plan & Goals

As an institution, we have come together to further incorporate Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDI) efforts into our long-term vision and goals. AIMC Berkeley supports the following vision:

  • To serve as a center for the promotion of health and wellness and care of the community through education, outreach, and patient care with focus on diverse patient populations including BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and low-income individuals
  • To serve as a center for international collaboration in the development of acupuncture and integrative medicine

The third goal of our strategic plan, designed to help us meet our Mission & Vision, is to “promote institutional & community diversity by serving all members of the community and producing practitioners trained in serving diverse populations”. To read more about the objectives within this goal, you can read our Strategic Plan. The initiatives shared in this blog post-spring out of this long-term goal-setting work.

The “O” Word

It is time for our profession to reckon with its use of the term “Oriental”. In 2016, President Barack Obama signed a bill that removed the term, along with a few other outdated slurs, from federal law. U.S. Representative Grace Meng, for whom the bill is named, said at the time, “many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.” There are more resources at the bottom of this post to learn about the history of the term “Oriental” and why it is necessary to eradicate it from our profession.

In 2020, The Influential Point began a petition to remove the “O”-word from all East Asian Medicine institutions. We joined and shared their petition and have set about the work of exploring alternate language for our curriculum, course names, and Master’s degree title. In April, we polled our students, faculty, staff, board members, and alumni for feedback about commonly used alternatives & to seek community input. The majority of respondents selected the term “East Asian Medicine” as a replacement for “Oriental Medicine”.

We anticipate making the official changes to our course names, syllabi, website, degree title, and other written materials by the start of the Fall semester.

The Diversity Grant

We established our Diversity Scholarship & Diversity Grant funds in 2020. Earlier this year, grant funds were awarded to host a virtual film screening of the radical Acupuncture documentary, Dope is Death. The most recent recipient of Diversity Grant funds is a Doctoral student working on a film on the topic of decolonizing the Acupuncture profession. The project began as an exploration of Orientalism & anti-racism in acupuncture. The film aims to capture the radical roots of acupuncture in the U.S., provide a platform for BIPOC voices, and explore the narratives of healing through decolonization. Big congratulations to Gina Dang, LAc., on being awarded these grant funds for her project! We can’t wait to see what the project will become. To learn more about Gina or get in touch about the project, visit her website.

Curriculum Review & Clinical Training

We have begun the process of auditing our curriculum for appropriate courses where JEDI material can and should be further incorporated. Students have the opportunity to participate in this process through their end-of-course evaluations. We’re grateful for the leadership of teachers who already incorporate this material into their courses. Deep thanks to Dr. Beverly Yates, ND, who teaches Integrative Medicine courses with diverse patient populations in focus, and to Dr. Nishanga Bliss, DAIM, who has received consistent positive feedback about her incorporation of these topics into the Public Health and the Psychology & Counseling curriculum.

We are integrating ongoing JEDI training into the clinical curriculum by offering one training per term that can be used towards clinical make-up hours. Each term, there will be a different speaker to ensure that students hear from a diverse pool of presenters. The first set of trainings were offered by India Harville on the topic of cultural humility. India coached students through a number of role-playing scenarios and raised the topics of racism, microaggressions, ableism, heteronormativity, and resiliency in the face of shame. After the training, interns reported feeling more well equipped and confident to deal with their own blindnesses in the treatment room and to foreground patient comfort, autonomy, and respect at all times.

This term’s speaker was Samuel Martinez, a Mexican-Diné (Navajo) elder and licensed clinical social worker. He offered our students his lived and professional experience in treating intergenerational trauma through a traditional healing praxis & approach. Thank you to Clinic Liason Edgar Mojica & Dr. Nishanga Bliss, DAIM, for helping to organize these events.

Staff Training

Over the spring semester, our staff and faculty attended a series of decolonization workshops with Dr. Tone Rawlings. These “Decolonizing the Heart and Mind” workshops offered lectures about the history of racism & discrimination in the US; inter-generational trauma; how racism affects people’s health and spirits; and how we can go about healing these wounds within ourselves and as a community organization. Our work with Dr. Tone Rawlings will continue, and we look forward to their next offering at AIMC in July: Embodied Radical Self-Compassion, which will include meditative and forgiveness practices in light of the inner challenges of decolonization work.

Community Offerings

AIMC has hosted a number of lunch-and-learn events on the topics of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. We intend to continue to offer these workshops to our students & alumni and to hear from a variety of speakers and voices inside and outside our field. Thank you to all of our speakers so far. These topics have come up informally in recent student events with AIMC alumni like Asian American Herbalist Erin Wilkins and Dr. Karen Villanueva. There have also been events to intentionally create space for these conversations. Thank you to Dr. Tenisha Dandridge for the “Increasing BIPOC Access to Care” lecture in the fall and more recently Dr. Tamsin Lee for sharing “Radical Compassion & East Asian Medicine” and “Asian American History and East Asian Medicine” lectures with our community.

Get Involved

If there’s an event you’d like to see AIMC host for our community, please fill out the Event Proposal form, and the Student Services & Marketing Departments will review your proposal. To apply for Diversity Grant funds for an event or project you’d like to organize for the community, you can apply here. Any other feedback or suggestions can be submitted anonymously or with attribution on our General Suggestions form.

Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to our growth as an anti-racist, inclusive, and justice-oriented institution. We intend to honor your energy, time, and voices by continuing this work in the years to come.

Resources to Learn More About “Orientalism” & Asian History

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