North Star Project
stands in solidarity with black communities. Black lives matter. The murder of George Floyd by police sits along with many murders, including Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor, as a blight on the American promise of freedom.
The systemic racism that perpetuates these killings also economically, structurally, and politically disenfranchises black indigenous people of color (BIPOC). For four hundred years white American culture has resisted facing this shadow. Millions of lives and families have been broken along the way. Until this shadow is faced, this country will never heal.
Psychedelic commercialization must not reproduce the same power structures that have brought about this moment in our country. It is not just capitalism. It is not just patriarchy. It is white power. Cannabis licenses are being given out in states still holding black and brown people in prison for marijuana offenses. Commercial cannabis licensing and policy decisions
are not inclusive, with 'social equity' programs failing black and brown entrepreneurs
in major cities like Los Angeles.
Today the leaders of psychedelic business are mostly white as well. The vast majority are men. It is to this fact that North Star Project points when we say the people with the most structural power have the greatest moral responsibility to make change. Words are not enough. Solidarity must go hand in hand with action. Some practical considerations for psychedelic businesses around racial justice: Education:
- The War on Drugs is deeply intertwined with psychedelic history. One of the most unethical things a psychedelic business could do is to structurally perpetuate systemic oppression for the sake of profit
- This starts with a commitment to researching and understanding disparities in health outcomes for communities of color vs. white communities, as well as asking hard questions about the implications of the organization's strategy and business model
- It is not enough to seek the voices of black and indigenous people of color. Those voices must be heard. What matters is structural power: governance accountability
- Companies can ensure that real organizational decision making authority, such as C-Suite leadership and board seats, is wielded by black and indigenous people of color
- Conference organizers, media platforms, podcast hosts, event coordinators, and others building platforms across psychedelics have an opportunity and obligation to raise marginalized perspectives and build power and influence for marginalized voices by committing to an ethos of representation for black and indigenous people of color in their work
- The War on Drugs is a national disgrace. It has cost trillions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, and millions of broken families, while leading to militarization of the police, mass incarceration, and criminalization of black and brown bodies. It has categorically failed to achieve its intended results
- It is time to end drug prohibition regulations and laws, which cause as much, if not more, societal harm than the drugs themselves
North Star is in its own process around racial justice. At the core of our values, mission, and vision is a commitment to the transformation of systems of oppression. We aspire towards it and consistently come up short. We endeavor to remain humble while staying in a constant process around communication, feedback, and improvement. The world we dream of remains incredibly far away. It is only by doing our best to model that future now that we can hope to someday make it real.
We can start by collectively affirming as an organization, as a field, and a society, the fundamental truth that black lives matter. So long as that freedom for life is denied, the American Dream will be a broken promise.
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- Make No Mistake: Cannabis Equity Can't Wait; Janet Burns; Forbes
- 'This was supposed to be reparations': Why is LA's cannabis industry devastating black entrepreneurs?; Sam Levin, The Guardian
- Boardroom diversity is falling in some of the biggest companies in the US; Business Insider
- Missing pieces report: The 2018 board diversity census of women and minorities on Fortune 500 boards; Alliance for Board Diversity (ABD), in collaboration with Deloitte
- A Brief History on the War on Drugs; Drug Policy Alliance
- Race, Race-Based Discrimination, and Health Outcomes Among African Americans; Vickie M. Mays, Susan D. Cochran, and Namdi W. Barnes
- Health Inequality Actually Is a "Black and White Issue", Research Says; Jordan Imhoff, Michigan Health
- Sacred Reciprocity: Supporting the Roots of the Psychedelic Movement;Celina De Leon, Ph.D; Chacruna
- Towards and Ethos of Equity and Inclusion in the Psychedelic Movement; Chacruna
- Militarization fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may harm police reputation; Jonathan Mummolo; PNAS September 11, 2018
- Again Drug Prohibition; ACLU
Learn more about the North Star Ethics Pledge here