Letter to Ben Hernandez

Posted in Woodward Avenue by gvd on February 10, 2010

Hi Ben,

Thanks for your message. I would like to hold a workshop with the healers to exchange cultural views on healthcare and the plants they consider powerful for healing. I could use the Bolivia films and Detroit plants that will be on display in the exhibit to start a group discussion about the traditional use of plants for healing and cultural expression of disease (what makes someone sick, are there illnesses than can only be treated by a healer, how does someone become a healer, how do they work in their communities, what are their opinions on biomedical healthcare?,…). Basically, the goal is to create an open forum for the healers to talk about their beliefs and opinions about disease and healing.

Very important: I am not looking for new-age people who picked up the “craft” of healing after smoking too much pot or rejecting mainstream society for higher spiritual purposes of looking for chakras or what not. I am specifically looking for Latino or African-American healers serving communities who face health disparities for reasons of culture, language barriers, socio-economic status or lack of health insurance. Basically, the cultural component of their healing activities (Mexican, Mexican-American, African, African-American) is a very important part and also to understand how that has been affected by migration from their home countries. Or, for the ones who were born here, how did they get in touch with their cultural practices or how have these been transformed? See article in the NYTimes “Healthcare in the shadows” of 10 May 2008 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/10/us/10migrant.html?_r=1

Ideally there would be a group of at least 4 people to hold a discussion. Also, it is important that they know in advance that they will be asked to share their experiences. Not everybody is open to that. Finally, this is not about monetary gains, but about promoting the role of traditional medicine as a cultural resource and about sharing.

One problem I can foresee working with both Mexicans and African-Americans are language issues. If that is a problem I prefer to focus on the Mexicans and conduct the workshops in Spanish. 

I’d be glad to give you any additional information you need.

All the best,


%d bloggers like this: