Acupuncture with a side of activism

Dr. Richard Taft receiving acupuncture from a patient-trainee at Lincoln Detox Center (Photo from Taft Family History).

I have a vision of weekly community acupuncture treatments where Evanstonians reflecting the diversity of our community in terms of income level, age, race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity and physical abilities gather for healing and local activism. (Once it is safe to have small groups gathered.)

My goal is to provide “pay what you can” community auricular acupuncture sessions in a format similar to that developed by the Black Panthers and the Young Lords in the 1970s.

The Black Panthers and Young Lords were instrumental in broadening the use of acupuncture beyond the Asian community in the United States. They used acupuncture to help fill the gaps in quality healthcare for people of color. To learn more, I  recommend reading Dr. Dandridge’s The Unusual Tale of Acupuncture, Racism and African American History in the USA, and watching the documentary Dope is Death.

The Black Panthers and Young Lords provided more than acupuncture in the community treatments. They also educated their clients on societal issues undermining health.  They helped their clients understand oppression in a global sense and empowered them to contribute to the betterment and well being of their community.

In addition to receiving acupuncture, my goal for the sessions is for people to connect with others in the community outside of their social circles. There will be opportunities to learn about local health-related social justice initiatives and connect with people who are taking action towards:
  • accessible affordable quality healthcare;
  • livable wages;
  • accessible, affordable healthy foods;
  • clean and healthy neighborhoods free of toxins and pollutants;
  • equitable access to parks, greens space, the lakefront, and recreational activities;
  • affordable housing;
  • police reform; and,
  • equitable inclusive education.

Finally, I would love to expose young people in our community to acupuncture and the history of its usage as activism so more young people consider it as a possible career choice.

Any money raised from the weekly sessions beyond the cost of the rental space and/or compensating guest presenters will go towards providing more subsidized acupuncture treatments for community members experiencing hardship.

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