[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E07. Original release date November 19, 2021.]
Hi, you are listening to the decolonizing medicine podcast. I'm your host, Jamee Pineda, coming to you from Piscataway territory, otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. I happen to be recording today on Undas, aka Araw Ng Mga Patay, or Day of the Dead. In the islands now known as the Philippines. This is a practice of pre colonial origins where people would spend time visiting family graves and communing with their ancestors. I'm not able to visit my ancestors graves in person right now, but my work, my values, and inspiration are rooted in those that came before me to contribute to the liberation of those that come after me. This is why this podcast center's Black and Brown practitioners and conversations about decolonization and healing work. I've got a few quick announcements to list off for you all. I am very excited to share that my first ever zine is now available online in a digital format. It's called Metal: Ritual + Reflection. This zine is part of a seasonally themed series on the five phases of Chinese medicine. If you are interested in working with me one on one for Hilot or Chinese medicine. My books are now open for November and December of this year. For more info on my work or to sign up for my email list go to linktr.ee/jameepinedahealingarts and that's link tree spelled li nk tr.ee. my guest for today is kuwa jasiri Indomela. kuwa jasiri is a seed plus medicine plus birth keeper, storyteller plus wordsmith plus coach, and the one engages in international writing and speaking opportunities that affirm people of heritage. As an intersex, Ghanaian Cuban, the one is immersed in their ancestral traditions, liberation and rest. The one infiltrates able-bodied, pale or white, and cis-led spaces advocating for us marginalized folks and resource return. This founding steward of Artistic Apothecary currently resides on Taino territory, otherwise known as Boriken. Okay, welcome listeners to The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. And I'm so excited for today's conversation with kuwa jasiri Indomela. kuwa jasiri would you like to do a quick introduction of yourself?
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E06. Original release date October 20, 2021.]
Jamee: Mabuhay! You are listening to The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. We will be exploring the intersection of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners involved in a variety of modalities. I'm your host Jamee Pineda coming to you from Piscataway territory otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I am also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. I've got a couple quick announcements for October. I will be starting a QTBIPOC 5 Phase Qi Gong series again on October 30th through December 18th. That is one hour a week every Saturday between those two dates from 11 a.m to 12 p.m Eastern Standard Time. I'm also going to be taking a break from one-on-one sessions in October, but per request my books are open for November. So just check out the link in the show notes if you're interested in scheduling with me. Don't forget there are captioned episodes available on YouTube. For more info on my offerings or to sign up for my email list you can visit linktr.ee/jameepinedahealingarts. My guest for today is Tiana Dodson. Tiana is a fat body liberation coach and facilitator who's out to destroy the belief that you have to be skinny to be happy and healthy, lovable, or worthy. Through her work with the Fat Freedom programs, she guides people feminine-of-center to reconnect with their bodies, destigmatize fatness, and learn about the harms of health being a measure of worth all while finding how they can live their best fat lives
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E05. Original release date September 20, 2021.]
Jamee: Mabuhay! You are listening to the Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. We will be exploring the intersection of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners
involved in a variety of modalities. I am your host Jamee Pineda coming to you from Piscataway territory, otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I am also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. My guest for today is Carolyn Collado.
They are a writer, decolonial dreamer, ancestral homecoming coach, and founding steward of
Recovery for the Revolution. They are a queer, non-binary, Afro Taino, neurodivergent human in long-term recovery and believe recovery from a decolonized anti-oppression lens can point the collective towards liberation.
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E04. Original release date August 22, 2021.]
Jamee: You are listening to the decolonizing medicine podcast. We will be exploring the intersections of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners involved in a variety of modalities. I am your host, Jamee Pineda, coming to you from Piscataway territory otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I am also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. The guest for this episode is Christian Totty. Christian is of Black and Cusabo ancestry. She was born, raised, and currently resides on the traditional homelands of Kiickapoo, Shawandasse Tula, and Myaamia relatives in the Northwest Ohio region. Christian is the founder of LOAM Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine and is the first woman of color to own and operate an acupuncture clinic in the area. She founded LOAM in 2018 as the culmination of her intersecting curiosity in culture medicine and ecology. Christian also has advanced training in diversity, equity, and inclusion; urban farming; and breath work.
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E03. Originally release date July 23, 2021.]
Jamee: Mabuhay! You are listening to The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. We will be exploring the intersection of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners involved in a variety of modalities. I am your host, Jamee Pineda, coming to you from Piscataway territory otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I am also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. I am dying to introduce our guest for today. Pooja Virani is a pain-free movement specialist and social justice consultant on a mission to spread joy, foster equality, and help people reach their highest potential. Pooja is certified in Kripalu yoga and meditation, kids yoga, and acro yoga. She has practiced yoga for over 15 years and taught it all over the world, most recently in Bali, Indonesia.
Jamee: Alright, our guest for today's episode is Pooja. Pooja, I'm gonna go ahead and let you introduce yourself.
Pooja: Sure! My pronouns are she, her, and hers and I am a queer, second generation Indian American. I am also a pain-free movement specialist and social justice consultant. I've created a rehabilitative yoga program and a pain-free hips and knees course and I teach LGBT and BIPOC yoga as well as social justice education for yoga teachers, community leaders, and businesses.
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E02. Original release date: June 24, 2021]
Jamee: Mabuhay! You are listening to The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. We will be exploring the intersections of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners involved in a variety of modalities. I am your host Jamee Pineda coming to you from Piscataway territory otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I am also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. Today's guest is Julz Bolinayan, an Ilocano American, non-binary, queer artist and initiated Hilot Binabaylan. They specialize in ancestral healing rituals through tattoo ritual, divination, serenade, energy healing, and body work. After recording my interview with Julz, I noticed that there was a little bit of missing audio so we added that in during post-production.
Jamee: Well hello, everyone. I am so excited for today's guest. Um, Julz, how are you doing over there?
Julz: I'm doing great
Jamee: Well, I'm so excited to talk to you. Um, Julz and I go way way way back and, uh, they're an amazing tattoo ritualist and Hilot Binabaylan, but I'm gonna actually have you, Julz, introduce yourself a little bit more.
Julz: Great, thank you. Yes, JP and I go way back which is another story I would love to tell you all, that would take up all our time, but my name is Julz Bolinayen Soriano Ignacio. Julz Bolinayen is my first name, but I just go by Julz. I will answer to any and all pronouns. My favorite pronouns are they and them, but depending depending on who you are I'll answer to all. Um, ancestry hails from northern Philippines as far as I know. My recent ancestry is Ilocano and I'm currently living and located in Tongva territory also known as Los Angeles and
as, uh, Jamee said I am a tattoo ritualist, Hilot Binabaylan, and also a haranista, and a singer-songwriter. Yeah, thank you for having me.
When I first started learning qi gong, it was a required course in my acupuncture school curriculum. Even though I had never tried it before, I was already rolling my eyes. I was here to learn about pins and potions, not old people exercises in the park. I hated the pace of it and the lack of “real exercise”. Moving slowly, taking the time to breathe, and not striving agitated me. It took several months to understand that was exactly why I needed qi gong.
My discomfort with slowness, receptivity, and relaxation was indoctrination from living in a capitalist, white supremacist, patriarchal, colonial culture. I had internalized a toxic relationship to productivity, pain, action, and strength. These ideas fed the myths of what I needed to function and succeed in life. Anything outside of that I was unconsciously associating with being unsuccessful and, ultimately, a barrier to survival.
The more I practiced qi gong, however, the more it became a space for me to explore an embodied unlearning of indoctrination. The movements and my values, conscious and unconscious, began to interact. How do I position my body in way that is nourishing and not exploitative of myself? How do I move in ways that reflect the pace of the seasons? What can I learn from forms used for combat that have now been redirected towards internal cultivation? What is the healing potential of my own body? Where can and should I do for myself and what areas need external support? What beliefs and postures do I no longer need?
I could have used qi gong years before when I was struggling through extreme burnout and institutional violence in a toxic nonprofit environment many years ago. Being grossly underpaid and overworked was just the surface of it. The experience affected my whole system. I was exhausted and not sleeping, constantly sick to my stomach, dangerously depressed, in pain, developing multiple allergies, and struggling in my relationships. I had yet to learn a more nuanced awareness of my body, mind, and spirit. At the time I did not see how I could have agency regulating my nervous system and other aspects of my health as a queer, trans, person of color in a hostile world.
Qi gong taught me a lot about self-compassion, consent, and not fixating on achievement. It is the opposite of “no pain, no gain”. Movements are done within ranges of comfort – nothing is forced. Practicing qi gong is informed by where my body and energy are at in a given moment. Sometimes I even practice without any physical movement at all. Forms help us cultivate our qi, but it is the practice that is important, not the achievement of a specific shape.
Qi gong is holistic within and outside of ourselves. I am not a machine with replaceable parts. I am an ecosystem of integrated mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical traits. I live within other ecosystems: natural, social, professional, seasonal, etc. The more I understand the interconnectedness within myself, the easier it is to navigate my relationships with those outside of me. How can I move in better alignment with myself and others? It helps me understand how to be relational and intersectional – essential orientations in decolonization work.
For me, qi gong goes beyond individual wellness. It is an embodied practice of deprogramming violence and exploitation and a reprogramming of balance and relationship. It is not a replacement for material liberatory action, but a further cultivation of it. It is a place to practice, integrate, and rejuvenate so that I can better align my impacts with my intentions, my external world with my internal world.
[The Decolonizing Medicine Podcast S01E01. Original release date: May 26, 2021]
Mabuhay! You are listening to the Decolonizing Medicine Podcast. We will be exploring the intersection of decolonization and healing work with Black and Brown practitioners involved in a variety of modalities. I am your host, Jamee Pineda recording from Piscataway territory otherwise known as Baltimore, Maryland. My ancestry is mostly Tagalog and some Chinoy, but I was raised here on Turtle Island. I'm also a queer non-binary trans person and a practitioner of Hilot and Chinese medicine. During each episode I will be interviewing different healing practitioners, but since this is our very first episode, I've decided to tell you a little bit more about my background and also answer some questions that I've gotten from folks in my community through social media and also some other groups that I'm a part of.
So I got into healing work I think the same way a lot of other folks have gotten into healing work and that was through work burnout, specifically non-profit work burnout. I was working in a very toxic environment that ended up making me really sick and the ways that I was able to get my health back on track and eventually leave that position and make some major changes in my life was to experience community acupuncture for the first time and this was really important to me because it was a medicine that I could financially afford at the time. I didn't have health insurance, and it was really accessible and my body was very responsive to it. And eventually that first-hand experience as a patient brought about my own career shift from doing this more administrative nonprofit work into doing healing work for my own communities.
At the end of last summer, my partner and I decided to plan a small trip to Chincoteague. We wanted to get out of the city and relax far away fro people with as many COVID precautions as we could possibly do. We had a blast in the beautiful wetlands with wild ponies and everything.
With all the outdoor adventures, my partner ended up getting covered in sunburns. I didn't have my normal pharmacy of salves, herbs, and needles with me. Since vaccines weren't available yet we were avoiding going into stores as much as possible. My partner decided to tough it out without their usual aloe after sun care.
I was sitting in the kitchen of the little studio we had rented when my gaze fell on our groceries on the counter. From nowhere I heard, “Avocado for burns.” Before my hilot initiation I might have shrugged it off, but my teachers encouraged me to listen to our plant relatives in the many ways they communicate to us. I heard it again a second time, more insistent. So, I opened up my laptop and searched, “avocados for burns”. Turns out they are a great medicinal for burns with loads of antioxidants that assist in cell repair.
I got goosebumps. I had always assumed I was disconnected from plants. First off, I am a notorious plant killer and don't have the emotional connection to plants that so many other queer millennials seem to have. Second, my herbal knowledge is almost exclusively in Chinese medicinals, formulations, and theories. To me this was a direct communication of knowledge I did not already have. While I was reading up on avocados I heard, “Honey for burns.”. Again I repeated the same process of research and confirmation.
I shared my experience with my partner and we decided to give it a go. Nothing to lose, right? I mashed the avocados and honey together and smeared it all over their body and face. From my clinical training in Chinese medicine I used the doctrine of signatures – when something in nature resembles a part of our bodies that's what is treats. “Burned” avocado skin to treat burned skin. Using water energy, even if the water is boiled, brings a cooling energy to counteract the fire from a burn. I reserved the avocado skins and pits and made a water decoction, a method of medicine-making where herbs are boiled in water.
My partner, naked and covered in green goo, drank the decoction. I crossed my fingers hoping that I didn't accidentally poison the love of my life. After a while we started noticing the redness in their skin increasing, although the pain had been somewhat soothed. The next morning their burns were completely gone. We were both amazed and extremely grateful.
Having been raised and educated in the U.S., I've been indoctrinated to only value knowledge that is rational, scientifically proven, and linear. I was not taught to value or hone my intuition and definitely not encouraged to talk to plants of spirits. I used to mourn my disconnection from ancestral practices and wisdom, but I am learning I am more connected than I thought possible. The more I practice, the more I feel the different systems of medicine, the different ways of knowing, integrating and informing how I interact with the world.
(Please note that this is not meant to be medical advice or treatment, merely a reflection of a personal experience.)
What is the first thing you think of when you hear “trans health care”? Many of us would probably say hormones, surgery, maybe even mental health therapy. This is problematic and I will explain why.
Centering gender affirming care solely on medical transition denies us the whole reality of our wellness needs. But isn't medical transition important? Of course! So is dentistry, physical therapy, oncology, and even acupuncture. Trans and gender expansive people also get back pain, diabetes, bunions, IBS, and sports injuries. We want bodywork, corrective lenses, night guards, and getting our weird moles checked out. Practitioners of all disciplines should be obligated to provide affirming and safe care to people of all genders whether or not they are assisting in medical transition.
Gender affirming care must also be actively anti-racist and anti-colonial. Colonization prioritizes white washed ideas of gender over racialized experiences. What identities, roles, and expressions did we have before colonizers attacked our ancestors? Colonizers in places like the Philippines persecuted people who did not fit European binary gender constructs. Even if we are including options beyond a gender binary, are these still framed by a white-centric experience?
So where do we go from here? Don't just start a book club and suddenly invest in cultural competency training. These are meaningless without processes for accountability and structural changes. White supremacy can show up as over-intellectualizing issues into performative ally-ship – talking the talk, but not walking the walk. Open-mindedness and invitations are not enough. They're a cover-up for structural inequities. Can you show me that you're doing the work without telling me you're doing the work? Can you do it without a DEI or values statement? When I'm seeking care I look at the relationships a practitioner has built to see who they are accountable to. Who do they redistribute resources to? I look at the language used in communications, website, social media, and intake forms. Is ally-ship stuck at pronouns are have we moved beyond that? I look to see that there is deep ongoing work rather than a shallow static checklist.
Years ago I used to collaborate with a yoga studio run by white queer folks in a predominantly BIPOC neighborhood. On the surface everyone was very trans and queer inclusive – there some QTBIPOC teachers and students. We did workshops together and referred clients back and forth. Months later in response to increasing coverage of police brutality, I find out the studio owners started organizing “fireside chats”...with cops. The idea was that friendly chats between BIPOC and cops would resolve the violence. The message was that BIPOC needed to be more civilized, that this was about an interpersonal dispute rather than institutional, white supremacist violence. We know that BIPOC, especially Black trans women, are particularly targeted by cops. Gender affirming care also intersects with abolition and racial justice. This was just one grievance at the studio wrapped up in an environment of “love and light”.
At the time I was so hungry for a space that promised queer and trans safety I ignored my initial cringe at these white queers teaching yoga. There is so much nuance involved in understanding what gender affirming care ought to be. We are much more than a tangle of genitalia and hormones disconnected from experiences of race. If we choose not to actively engage in these nuances, they are already at play in how we participate in each other's wellness and what we are complicit with. I look forward to envision what our care could be, but I also look back. My ancestors thrived before Capitalism, colonization, and the medical industrial complex and they also made me.