Psychedelic Support for BIPOC Communities: Uplifting Voices, Transforming Hearts, Shifting Perspectives
Featuring Yarelix Estrada and Sensei Kevon Simpson, moderated by Kaylie Tejedai, DNAP, CRNA
For centuries, people from many different backgrounds have been transformed in positive ways through intentional psychedelic experiences. In this webinar, we will discuss the use of psychedelics among those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), exploring how we can create containers to amplify BIPOC perspectives and strengthen support for a more cohesively diverse psychedelic community.
Yarelix Estrada is a first-generation Central American, drug policy and harm reduction researcher and outreach worker, and psychedelic community organizer. In New York City, Yarelix is the Director of the New York City Psychedelic Society where she works to help build a connection of psychedelic New Yorkers that is grounded in inclusivity, research, and community. She has organized events that are for people of color only to provide a safe space for intentional processing of psychedelic experiences and fostering community care. Yarelix currently works as a City Research Scientist with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducting community-based substance use harm reduction outreach and research. Part of those research responsibilities include coalition building amongst city agencies, elected officials, and community members while using research to solve issues related to drug user health and safety. Yarelix is also on the board of SALUD, Supporting and Advancing Latino Unidos at DOHMH, the Latinx Employee Resource Group, where she is working to highlight the needs of Latinx health in New York City, as well as organizing support for Indigenous communities and their health in the city. She is currently also serving as an Engagement Coordinator under her COVID-19 emergency response role where she supports and advocates alongside Indigenous communities across NYC. Yarelix has worked in other harm reduction spaces such as with the Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition, DanceSafe, and other nightlife harm reduction projects. She has spoken at events on the topic of overdose prevention, psychedelic community accountability, harm reduction services for the BIPOC community, the intersections of drug and psychedelic policy, and psychedelic decriminalization. The events that she has facilitated are low cost, low barrier events that she has created with and for her community. She received her bachelor’s degree and Master of Science in Public Health in Health Policy at the Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, respectively.
Sensei Kevon Simpson is an ordained Minister, multidisciplinary artist, international Two Spirit Medicine Man, a Shotokan Karate black belt, and founder of the Entheogen Integration Circle (NYC). He is from a lineage of Jamaican spiritual healers, and in the spirit of Sankofa he calls upon his Taíno and Akan ancestry often. He is also initiated through ‘dieta’ into the path of curanderismo, the ancient sacred healing plant medicine shamanism of the Amazon Rainforest, and Andes. During his extended stays in Pucallpa, Iquitos, and Chavín de Huantar, Perú, he learned the techniques of guiding ceremonies from fellow indigenous keepers of the Earth, with the intent of bringing the experience back to marginalized communities.
He has traveled as far as Taiwan, Jamaica, Canada, and even Japan within his path as a medicine guide and high dose solo sitter. Known as one of the leaders of the underground psychedelic renaissance, clinical psychotherapists often come to him for advice with their clients. In 2019, he opened the world-renowned HORIZONS psychedelic conference as the ritual voice of spirit. He is a Reiki Master, who also has over 15 years of guiding meditation experience, and often combines the practices of mindfulness with poetry, dance, and sound healing, in order to lift people out of their wounds, and into their divine purpose. Kevon’s whole life changed in 2017 when he became public with his HIV status, and has since been an advocate to help lower the stigma through articles, appearances, and more. In his spare time you can find him practicing medicine songs and icaros, playing his handpan, or doing live feeds of spiritual upliftment under his social media handle Medicine Sensei, or by following the hashtag #planetocatch.
Kaylie is a certified registered nurse anesthesiologist (CRNA) born and raised in New York and now located in Fresno, California where she practices and teaches anesthesia. She has been in the healthcare field going on 9 years and recently began her PhD at California Institute of Integral Studies, where studies Integral and Transpersonal Psychology. She identifies as Latinx (Dominican-American) and Queer. Kaylie serves as the moderator of the Psychedelic Social Justice Collective (PSJC) discord server and a member of the Intercollegiate Psychedelic Network’s Social Policy & Impact Spore. Her passions, while diverse, are predominately centered on social justice advocacy, with an emphasis on ethics and equity in the psychedelic field and healthcare at large, rewriting societal narratives, and developing community solutions for marginalized communities that have been plagued by systemic inequities.