POCA and Racism

From POCA’s mission statement: POCA’s mission is to work cooperatively to
increase accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments.
POCA, as a multi-stakeholder co-op, is designed to build a long-term, stable economic
relationship based on fair treatment for everybody.
From POCA’s vision statement: To ease entry into the practice of acupuncture and
work with legislators to ensure safety and reasonable regulation.
How shall the POCA Cooperative approach 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 as a
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
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 use POCA Tech as a platform for discussion about structural racism,
Orientalism, and cultural appropriation within the acupuncture profession, and to ensure
all POCA Tech students are conversant with these issues;
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 (beyond POCA Tech) 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).