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Asians and Psychedelics: Transcending the Model Minority [ONLINE]

February 24 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

by Chacruna


A Conversation With Serena D. Wu, Grace Cepe, and Frances Fu

Wednesday, February 24th, 12-2pm PST

Psychedelics can be important tools to help transcend the model minority stereotype and bring healing to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. One can easily see the lack of representation of the AAPI community in the psychedelics space, like in many other spaces. The model minority stereotype expects this community to be smart (e.g., good at math), wealthy, hardworking, rule followers, submissive or docile, and self-reliant as they achieve the American dream. While helpful at times, this stereotype also sanitizes the heterogeneous richness of ethnic, national, and cultural identities, overlooking the unique and complex histories, traditions, beliefs and economic struggles of this community. This may add another layer on top of the cultural stigmas and norms that make many in the AAPI community less likely to seek emotional support or help with their mental health, drug use, or trauma.

As attitudes toward mental health and psychedelics shift, it is important for the AAPI community to chime in. In this discussion, the speakers will explore: the future of plant medicine and psychedelic-assisted therapy for the AAPI community; stigmas and barriers and ways to overcome them; integration of eastern spiritual teachings; means to increase visibility; and ways to be in service for the community and the sacred plant medicine space.

Serena Wu is a founding partner of Plant Medicine Law Group LLP, an immigrant and women-owned law firm serving the psychedelic and cannabis space. A litigation attorney, she began her legal career at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York City focusing on commercial and securities litigation, regulatory enforcement, and compliance. She is the founder of Women in Psychedelics, an Instagram account that showcases the contributions, voices, and experiences of women in the psychedelic space, and Asian American Pacific Islanders Psychedelics Society, a group dedicated to discussions about psychedelics and mental health in the AAPI community. She volunteers as an advisor to a New York campaign that aims to decriminalize and legalize a therapeutic model for psychedelics. Starting in March, she will be launching quarterly community forums with the AAPI Psychedelics Society. She has a J.D. from Harvard University Law School and a B.A. from University of California, Berkeley.

Grace Cepe (she/her) serves as the Communications Associate for MAPS and volunteers with Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She has a B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). At UCSC, Grace was a research assistant for the social psychology department’s Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory, an instructor’s assistant for the Introduction to Psychology course, and a residential counselor intern for at-risk youth. Before joining MAPS as Community Engagement Associate, Grace volunteered with MAPS and the San Francisco Psychedelic Society and has been an activist with Decriminalize Santa Cruz.

Since attending MAPS’ Psychedelic Science Conference in 2017, Grace’s interests in psychedelics evolved from a primary focus on the clinical applications of psychedelics and into Indigenous ways of life and ceremonial uses, human rights, social justice, and increasing inclusivity and diversity in the field of psychedelics. Outside of her psychedelic work, Grace loves getting involved with her community, spending time in nature, hip-hop and salsa dancing, and getting lost in a good book.

Frances Fu is the co-founder of the Center for Political Drug Education and co-facilitator of the Asian American Drug War Healing Circle, which heals drug war trauma in Asian communities through political education, skill-building, and storytelling. She has been doing political drug education work since 2011, rooted in a harm reduction and healing justice praxis. She has worked with intergenerational populations to steward greater awareness of how the War on Drugs and intersecting systems of oppression are related to trauma, mental health, and substance use. Currently, she serves as the Training & Data Coordinator for the Drug Overdose Prevention Education (DOPE Project), a program of the National Harm Reduction Coalition that oversees all of the overdose prevention and naloxone distribution efforts in San Francisco. Prior to that, she worked at the Chinese Progressive Association in SF Chinatown, an organization that organizes, educates, and empowers working-class Chinese immigrant workers, tenants, and families.