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#27 Black Therapists Rock | Deran Young

13 juillet 2021

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She created Black Therapists Rock and her current professional areas of expertise include International Social Work, Gender Issues and Trauma/Anxiety Disorders. She joins Ronan to discuss her military experience, transitioning into civilian life, the socio-economic inequities within drug research and therapies amongst African American communities, and her exploration of psychedelics and cannabis.


[00:00:00] Deran: I think that we sometimes have a false dichotomy between reality and consciousness, just as we do with science and spirituality or sacredness, um, and I think it’s time to really blend some of these polarizations that we’ve, we’ve created as humans, um, as, a form of false safety, but, you know, to really be able to say both and- 

Ronan: [00:00:22] Yeah, 

Deran: [00:00:22] to be able to include all things and see the connectedness and all things.

Ronan: [00:00:36] Hello everyone, and welcome to Field Tripping. Today, we have an amazing guest with us. Deran Young: therapist, founder of Black Therapists Rock and an advisor to Field Trip. We are super excited to be speaking with Deran today, but before we hop into that conversation, let’s hit up some news to trip over.

[00:01:00] An article in the North Carolina News & Observer reported that Dr. Bryan Roth, a researcher at the University of North Carolina is actively working to develop psychedelic drugs without the psychedelic experience. Because there’s always gotta be that guy who is bent on sucking the fun out of everything. I’m just kidding of course. I think it’s really important work. It will not only help us understand the mechanism of action of psychedelics, it will also offer people options. Some people just want medicine, others like yours truly appreciate that when it comes to our mental and emotional well-being, the jouney is part of the process, but that’s not for everyone. And so both options have a role and are welcome in my mind. Secondly, and this piece of news isn’t about psychedelics, but it certainly applies to this class of drugs. The Drug Policy Reform Act is aiming to produce a lot of harm that has come from the war on drugs. This measure, which was recently introduced in the [00:02:00] House in the U S would decriminalize drugs at the federal level in the United States. It would also expunge criminal records of previous drug law offenders and shift the emphasis from incarceration to treatment. So once again, I’d like to congratulate the drugs for winning the war on drugs. Finally, sleep is very hard to come by for a lot of people. This is especially true for individuals suffering from one or more psychiatric disorders. In the case of PTSD, sleep disturbance is all too common. A study published in May looked at whether MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, which appears to be remarkably effective at treating PTSD, can also substantially improve sleep. The treatment worked quite well, and the improvements were notable even after one year. I swear I would kill for a year of uninterrupted sleep, but I don’t think that’s going to be happening for me anytime soon. 

Growing up with an incarcerated father and a mother who struggled with mental illness and substance abuse, Deran gained knowledge [00:03:00] and experience of discrimination, poverty, and social services at a very early age. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in social psychology, Deran moved to pursue a master’s in public administration and a master’s in social work. Her current professional areas of expertise include international social work, gender issues, and trauma and anxiety disorders. Deran created Black Therapist Rock, as she noticed a gap in mentorship, knowledge, sharing, and unity among helping professionals, seeing an opportunity to organize counseling professionals towards action in decreasing the stigma and other barriers to psychological and social well-being among African Americans and other vulnerable populations. Deran, I thank you so much for joining us on Field Tripping today. 

Deran: [00:03:47] Thank you so much for having me here today. Really excited about this. 

Ronan: [00:03:50] It’s my pleasure. It’s, it’s super exciting to be working with you. I’ve still relished the conversation we had a while ago, when you talked about how we, we both [00:04:00] grew up thinking McDonald’s was food and, and mushrooms were drugs, and that still tickles me to this day. I think that’s one of the most insightful, uh, things I’ve heard in a long, long time. 

Deran: [00:04:11] Cause it’s true.

Ronan: [00:04:12] It is true. That’s absolutely the case. But before we get into talking about you, I want to get your thoughts on something. The other day, I was listening to a podcast that was discussing breath. Now, most of us know how the basic breathing function of our body works: blood gets pumped from the heart to the body, then comes back blue and de-oxygenated where it goes to our lungs gets filled with oxygen and then back out to our body. Makes sense, right? But then the podcaster asks the question, “what happens with a baby in the womb, given that their lungs are filled with water?” It turns out there’s this truly magical system where the placenta takes oxygen from the mom’s blood, essentially pumps it through the umbilical cord, into the heart of the baby, but because the lungs don’t do anything in utero, there’s actually a hole in the heart where the blue blood and red blood mix and the process continues. [00:05:00] Anyway, it’s all super fascinating. And by way of background, what was really interesting though, is they talked about next steps and that’s what I wanted to get your thoughts on actually, Deran. At the moment a baby is born, that whole system, with the placenta and the holding the heart stops working, and what happens is that the cold temperature of the real world in a truly traumatic moment after birth, essentially shocks the baby’s respiratory system into working. The segment ended with a question. And this is a question I want to pose to you because I don’t like starting with easy questions, which was: are some traumas essential? What do you think about that? 

Deran: [00:05:37] Essential meaning natural, or- 

Ronan: [00:05:41] Essential for the human experience. Is trauma a part of life? Is it something, I mean, I think we’re constantly trying to mitigate trauma, stop trauma, trauma is bad. But the question is like, well, no, actually it seems like the first moment of life is intentionally traumatic. And if you think about trauma in [00:06:00] the, in the neurological CNS sense of your body being overwhelmed and responding to something, it actually seems truly essential. But curious to know your thoughts on that. I know it’s out there, but I found the conversation so interesting so I wanted to pose it to you. 

Deran: [00:06:15] No, this is actually a topic that I spent a lot of time thinking about when, um, I was carrying my son, and I did a lot of research from the Eastern perspective on how they view, uh, birthing and labor, um, as we call it in the west. We call it in the West, labor. And the, uh, in the East, I think they call it more of service, transition, uh, tradition. You know, there’s a lot of other concepts that go along with the birthing process in the East, uh, philosophy. So I will say that, uh, one of the things that was really helpful to me that, that kind of mirrored the balance of the two worlds is something called the fourth trimester. And it says that, you know, we, as humans, we’re coming from a very [00:07:00] connected and warm and loving and trusting, um, place and secure place. We’re securely attached in the womb, and when we come out to this world, it is very abrupt, um, especially the way that we do it here in the West, and bright lights, you know, sterile environment. It’s not like a communal, um, village kind of, um, experience. And so I did a lot of research on the fourth trimester and they said that we’re supposed to try to recreate the womb experience as much as possible. And I thought about how much privilege it takes to be able to know something like that here in America. As a black woman, you know, so many, I was actually doing counseling with other black women and women of color while I was in the military, pregnant, um, and I realized that so many of us women, it’s a privilege to be able to, uh, take care of our bodies or take care of ourselves while we’re going through this birthing process, because the American society says “you’re not sick, nothing’s wrong with you. You don’t [00:08:00] need anything special. Soldier on,” you know, kinda. And I actually, you know, broke- my water broke while I was at work. So it was just, you know, the military setting was the perfect place to really learn a lot about how not to do it. And Africa was a place that really showed me a lot of other options of how I could do it. Um, and knowing that these are two different environments, but how could I blend the two, um, in a way that worked for me and my family. So I definitely believe that that’s a thing. Um, I believe that, uh, intergenerational trauma is passed through the womb. Um, I don’t know if you’ve heard that your grandmother was carrying your mom’s eggs, you know, at the time of her, uh, her birthing process. So, you know, I believe that trauma is definitely passed down three generations removed from slavery, so that’s something that’s very important for me to think about and talk about a lot. Um, it was kind of the cornerstone of my work and, um, yeah, I think that suffering is a part of reality. [00:09:00] And I think that we sometimes have a false dichotomy between reality and consciousness, um, just as we do with science, and spirituality or sacredness, um, and I think it’s time to really blend some of these polarizations that we’ve, we’ve created as humans, um, as, uh, a form of false safety, but, you know, to really be able to say both, and, to be able to include all the things and see the connectedness in all things. 

Ronan: [00:09:25] That’s super cool. Um, so what you’re saying is that we could blame obstetricians for most problems in society. That’s what you’re saying, right?

Deran: [00:09:35] I think we could blame society for most of the problems in society. You know, the fact that our healthcare is primarily centered on profit, which isn’t a bad thing overall. I, I’m not, I’m a nonprofit leader, but I am definitely not anti profit. [laughting] I think that profit really inspires innovation and it motivates diversity and inclusion, I think. There’s a bottom line [00:10:00] benefit to marketing to everyone. Um, so I think profit is good. However, I think that our society, you know, when we become hyper-focused on profit and we forget about people. That is what I think is the cornerstone of our issues here in America.

Ronan: [00:10:16] Yeah, I think there’s a lot of truth to- there’s a lot in, in what you said that I love. And I’d love to sort of go into in more depth. But just on the particular topic of profit- because it was the last point you touched on was- profit in and of itself, as a pursuit can be very misaligning. But if we start looking at profit as a measure of value created, it can become something that is a lot more respectable. Cause I know like, my favorite author Tom Robbins, has this great quote, which I can’t even come close to repeating, but he basically said: in the 1930s in the great depression, uh, you know, we had this situation where there was just as much milk, there were just as many cows, there’s just as much fruit, there’s just the most sugar, but somehow [00:11:00] everybody was poor. And he’s- because we had conflated this notion of money representing value, and they’re not necessarily the same thing and the more they disconnected, the more, you know, we probably run into problems about that, but that’s a whole separate conversation, um, that we can circle back to. But I wanted to talk about you a little bit more. Now you touched on intergenerational trauma. And one of the things I’ve personally been fascinated with, and it came in the last podcast that we recorded as well, and it’s, it’s something I’d love to get into in depth with you as well, is that: more and more I’m recognizing that I have no idea what it’s like to be another person. I mean, they always say like, you need to understand someone, you have to walk a mile in their shoes, so to speak, and it’s eff’in hard to actually put yourself in the shoes of another person. And it’s that much harder for me as like a white man, a heterosexual white man, to put my feet in the shoes of [00:12:00] a, another person, you know, especially people of different ethnicities, different orientations, all that kind of stuff. I mean, I think I have a small flavor of it growing up Jewish. So I have like some sense of it, but I’m really trying to get a deeper understanding of like, what is it like, actually, you know, if you could help me as a heterosexual white man, understand what it’s like to be a black woman in this world. And before you go into that, cause it’s a very hard question, I’d just love to know your story because in, in so many ways, your childhood as a black person is kind of stereotypical in the most literal sense. Like when you think about like what it’s like to grow up as a black child in this world, I think a lot of people would be like, you know, absent father, drug-addicted, mother, some sort of stereotype of that. And, and I get that’s entirely a stereotype, but it sounds like one that you actually lived. So I would love to just hear your story from your mouth about life growing up and [00:13:00] how you kind of got onto the path that, that you got onto. 

Deran: [00:13:04] Yeah, I think that’s one of the reasons why I got into the field of social work and into mental health specifically, is because I noticed that everyone’s noticing these patterns, but we’re all curious about the root of it. And I got curious enough to actually, you know, start to dig deeper. And I noticed that the root of it was trauma, systemic trauma, and systemic oppression that is still living out every day. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome is something that Dr. Joy DeGruy termed and, and I believe is very, very true. However, I don’t think that it’s post. I think that it’s still happening. You know, we are still operating, in this society as though black people are three-fifths of a human, and that there lies the problem, in my opinion. And so yes, I was kind of the stereotypical, child, you know, who grew up during the war on drugs and was [00:14:00] heavily impacted by the system  that was created, that, you know, was created, I believe, with little mindfulness around the impact to black people, or little care regarding the impact.

Ronan: [00:14:15] I would argue based on some of the things I’ve read and heard that it was actually done quite mindfully with the impact of black people, but not- 

Deran: [00:14:22] I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that as somebody whose life has been severely impacted by it. I think that that is something I’m still grieving: the idea that my own country masterfully articulated a plan to destroy the people that looked like me as a hard pill to swallow.

Ronan: [00:14:41] Sure.

Deran: [00:14:41] Um, and I think that it’s one you take in doses, you know? Um, it’s why I travel frequently because, to be able to, to kind of go back to your original question, is trauma necessary? It depends on your, your circumstances, you know, in the wild, it depends on where you are in the food chain. It depends on the [00:15:00] season. It depends on, you know, where exactly you are on the planet, um, and what species you are, you know, and I, I believe that’s true even amongst us as humans. There’s a structure that’s in place and it’s kind of like The Hunger Games, is the way that I describe it to people of color, you know, and we have to be aware of where we are, um, in The Hunger Games and what our role can be and what it has been, and how we’ve internalized that, you know, how that affects your mental health. So racial trauma is something that I’ve witnessed, I’ve experienced. I don’t know what it’s like to not have that. It sounds like an amazing, you know, luxury. And I know that that’s not a fairytale I can live in, that I can afford to live in. 

Ronan: [00:15:47] Sure.

Deran: [00:15:47] And, and I love what you said, Ronan, about being Jewish, because I’ve been able to get with other Jewish therapists- there’s a lot of Jewish folks who happen to be therapists- I didn’t know that. 

Ronan: [00:15:58] Yeah.

Deran: [00:15:58] And being a part of the [00:16:00] IFS community, I’ve really had an opportunity to heal collectively with Jewish folks who are looking at their own ‘legacy burdens,’ is what we call it and IFS. Um, so yeah, my, my childhood was very much a mirror of three generations removed from slavery, my great-grandfather my, actually my grandfather died from alcoholism, which set the stage for my mother who was two and her sister who was three at the time to be in poverty with their mother and her, you know, carrying a level of depression. Um, she also, my grandmother experienced domestic violence, so that got passed down, um, and then you have my mother who very much struggles with mental health. Initially it was bipolar disorder and then she, medicated it with crack cocaine. So it’s subsequently has, led to, uh, a lot of psychosis, and what I now think is starting to look like dementia. So me really wanting to understand, like how does [00:17:00] this trauma impact my brain, is for personal reasons a lot of times, you know, it’s for my own well-being journey of wellness and growth. But it’s also so that I don’t have to pass down things to my son because a lot of the things my mom passed down to me, you know, scarcity, hunger, homelessness, poverty, those are things that I still struggle with today. And being able to see myself as a worthy individual in our society and not carrying on the shame, the generational shame that gets passed down when you’re told that you’re less than, or that you don’t belong, is something that I’m passionate about, you know, healing from my lineage and for my community.

Ronan: [00:17:40] Thank you for sharing all that. There’s, there’s a lot there. I have two questions. One is, have you grieved, you know, all of those experiences? Like, that sounds intense to a level that I can’t even possibly appreciate. But you can approach it with such a, [00:18:00] I don’t even know how to describe it, but like a, a sort of passion is uh- like, you’re composed around it. And, you know, I certainly think certain things like that I may not be composed over. 

Deran: [00:18:12] Yeah, I think that there are a few privileges that I’ve had, you know, and I have to acknowledge those because the people who don’t share those same privileges don’t have the same outcomes that I had in this society. Um, so I always had access to really good education, I was always told that I was smart, from a little girl. The one thing I realized- it’s kind of a mixed gift and burden- because for black girls you get to either be smart or cute. You don’t get to be both. So I realized that, although I was the smart one, I didn’t feel like the cute one. And so that’s something that I, you know, still struggle with today, as a legacy burden that was passed down- as a dark skinned black woman, I come from a long line of dark-skinned black women, who had their own burdens around, you know, being picked on or being perceived as [00:19:00] unattractive and undesirable. So, uh, there’s that, so I was that smart one and there’s lots of smart women in my family. [laughter] So I, I have that on my side. I have a great grandmother who died in peace and was nothing but love and compassion to everyone she met. The example that I like to use to kind of share with people is, number one: she taught me piano when I was like four years old. I don’t know how she did that as someone who, you know, at thirteen, picked cotton. So I always wondered, you know, how do you go from picking cotton to playing piano and having enough patience to teach a small child that? Another example I use is, she would have the Mormons come by on a weekly basis and just, you know, give them company. [laughter] I guess she felt like they had something to share, and she had the time to listen. And so, you know, she would do that, and I tried doing that because I wanted to see like, ‘oh, well, that seems easy enough. You know, why, why shouldn’t [00:20:00] everyone want to do that?’ Um, and I tried it and I thought, man, this is hard because they are, they’re going to nod religiously every week. [laughter] And if you’re busy or you’re distracted and you really aren’t in the mood, it’s hard to say no and it’s also hard to say yes. So I just realized that my grandmother, my great-grandmother was someone who set an example as an ancestor of what I wanted to be, what I wanted- how I wanted to live my life, how I want it to be with people, to leave them with a little bit more of themselves and not make it about me all the time. And she had lots of reasons to make it about her, you know? And by the time she had great grandchildren, she had seven children of her own, she’d lost a child to gun violence, uh, I think he was 16 years old. I lost him to gun violence in our local town. Um, and so, our ancestors and the future generation is kind of what inspires me to keep going to be honest, to keep doing my own personal healing work, and to create resources and opportunities for other [00:21:00] people to do that as well. Because I just realized my great-grandmother didn’t have access to therapy, but she was well. She was well-ish. She was well mentally and spiritually. She wasn’t well physically at all, because you know, trauma also impacts the body. But that’s something I’m working towards as well, is being able to be connected to my body, you know? Not being so up in my head or in my heart that I can’t be in my own body. 

Ronan: [00:21:25] Yeah, no, I hear you. Why do you think your great-grandmother was, I’m not going to say it like able to avoid the, the intergenerational trauma or the trauma, but she seemed to carry a resonance that you talk about that I can pick up and, you know, I kind of know the personality and it’s amazing, and then you kind of look at subsequent generations and it turned away from, I guess, the spirit that she carried. Have you ever thought about that? 

Deran: [00:21:51] I do. I think that that loving spirit is, is highly contagious. But I think that the trauma covers it up. So like, people look at my sister [00:22:00] and I, we’re a year apart. Her name was Echo, uh, because my mom said she was doing the exact same thing the year before. [laughter] I was born on August fifth and Echo was born on August twenty-eighth, the following year. So, um, people look at us and they’re like, “wow, y’all are so different.” You know, our trauma has impacted us very differently. She’s more tough, you know, she was in the Army. I was in the Air Force. Um, and she just has this tough exterior and people wonder how could two children that grew up in a very similar environment have a different expression of their spirit. Um, and I tell people, it’s not that the love isn’t there or it’s any less there. Um, it’s just that we express it differently. So hers is very protective. Um, and I’m starting to realize like her’s sets, boundaries and limits, and mine is very open and free. And again, you know, it’s not about comparing the two it’s about knowing that they’re both necessary. Um, and if we can balance our energies when we’re together, right, then there’s room for everything. [00:23:00] So I don’t think-

Ronan: [00:23:01] For sure.

Deran: [00:23:02] I don’t think that anything’s better, you know, there’s that, that idea or concept that there’s a good black person, there’s a model black person or a model minority. Um, I just think that we’re all expressing our spirits very differently based on our experiences, um, and the more we have access to resources, the better we’re able to transform that into something that’s more of a gift, versus a burden. 

Ronan: [00:23:24] Right. Now you kind of touched on that. That’s going to be my question, which is like, growing up in your circumstances, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who would have taken those experiences and probably turn them into a destructive, at least how we, you know, in a sort of modern Western context define destructive, path and, and you’ve turned it into something very constructive. So, so two questions, and maybe you answered it with reference to your great-grandmother, but how do you think you and, and your sister who also, you know, as, as you defined your name as Deran, as in Duran, Duran, and, uh, thinking back to eighties bands, you’ve got Echo and the Bunnymen, so who [00:24:00] both have like 1980s-inspired names, how do you think, you know, what was it that helped you, I guess pursue a path that we’d view as more constructive? And then secondly, uh, you joined the military, which is an interesting, uh, pursuit for any number of reasons, but particularly for someone who can sort of sit there and is in the process of digesting how, uh, the country that you served and actually puts your life on the line for, I don’t know if you’re ever in theater, but, um, actually put your life on the line for was one that actually set out to in many ways, destroy you? Um, and how did you reconcile that? And maybe it was just a timing issue that it never came up when you- came up when you were in the military, but I’m curious to know your thoughts. 

Deran: [00:24:41] Yeah. It was a timing issue. It came up about 15 years in and I thought, what the hell? Like when the lights finally came on and I saw where I was and what we were, you know, what we were really all there to do, um, it was, it was a very, a very shocking moment for me to be- [00:25:00] to have been in the military for 15 years and then be- to be then told that my job wasn’t to help people get better. My job was to make sure that they could go to war. And I was told that by a social worker with a very straight face, and I thought “I am in the damn wrong place.” [laugher] You know? Like, how did I not know that? So I already tell people grief is a very long journey, you know? It could be a very long process. It’s not something that happens overnight. And my military friends that are reaching out to me, you know, right after the George Floyd murder or the Lieutenant who was tased in uniform, a military black military officer was tased in uniform in South Carolina. And a lot of my military friends, they’re being shocked. You know, like they’re being shocked awake, and they’re still needing to be in for their own survival or their own, you know, lifestyle, their families, the benefits, you know, that’s kinda what brought us there. Before I joined the military, I was homeless. So it was a lot of desperation, you know, I wanted to [00:26:00] be- have an education, which I was able to get two master’s degrees. I wanted to have access to the quote unquote American dream. Um, and, and I wanted to be able to pass that down to my son, you know, and which my son’s college has already paid for because both his mom and dad have served in the military. So there’s a lot of benefits that come with being a military member. And there’s a lot of oppression that comes with being a military member or a veteran of color. 

Ronan: [00:26:26] Yeah, I can imagine, it’s- it’s so interesting because there are so many benefits of, of being in the military and I understand it and it can be used so constructively, you know? You take those opportunities and put them to use, and you can really change the course of, you know, your life and, and truthfully your history in, in so many respects, um, at the same token, and actually this is an interesting lead-in to the next question I had. You know, you’re serving a power that is of questionable legitimacy, you definitely have [00:27:00] to question the, um, intent of a lot of it. I’m sure some of it, I’m sure a lot of people get into the military with very high and noble intentions. Um, but maybe as I get older, you start to question the role of the military and what it’s actually serving and how freedom seems to be very often just paid as lip service instead of an actual pursuit. 

Deran: [00:27:22] Absolutely.

Ronan: [00:27:23] I’m gonna go back to another podcast that I was listening to. These both came from Radiolab, by the way, if you’re listening for- looking for a good podcast, I always find it so fascinating. But they recently did a podcast that told the story of a gentleman named Harry Pace, who was a fair colored black man of the early nineteen-hundreds as they described him, who did truly amazing things, all in a quest to elevate the black community. Uh, have you heard of Harry Pace by the way? 

Deran: [00:27:48] I have not.

Ronan: [00:27:50] Okay, that’s interesting. I’ll continue reading my question and it’ll give some context. He was a musician. He was a lawyer. He started Black Swan Records, a recording company [00:28:00] that only recorded black singers, and which created the foundation for much of modern music. He was the CEO of a large insurance company, uh, that worked primarily for the black community. And he was one of the first people to successfully break down the laws around restrictive covenants that prevented black people from owning houses in white communities. The podcast was on Radiolab and it was called The Vanishing of Harry Pace because despite some of his monumental achievements, and one of the comments early on in the podcast was why isn’t there three movies made about this guy? Harry Pace was kind of lost to history. Uh, but what was so interesting to me was what led to his ultimate demise. Although his success in the courts was on behalf of another black family, he also owned a house in that neighborhood, uh, that white neighborhood and can do so because he was so fair-skinned, he didn’t outwardly present as black. Uh, but as soon as his employees at the insurance company found out that he was essentially representing as [00:29:00] white for his benefit, they turned on him for selling out, and he essentially faded from the limelight thereafter. Now I think there’s two things to talk about here. One is, like, I think this story, when you hear his story is reflective of probably the systemic racism in society- about someone who accomplished literally so much. Never been heard of. Um, but the more, the curious thing I’m curious about is to hear your perspective on this, about how, you know, the black community turned on this black man for representing as white, you know, to, to serve his interests. It’s, it’s such a complex issue. Uh, and I’m curious to know your thoughts about it. 

Deran: [00:29:40] Yeah. I think it goes back to that idea that, you know, uh, trauma, you know, when you have crab- the quote unquote crabs in a barrel, you have to ask the question, how do they get there in the first place, you know? So if you have, uh, inner fighting in a community, you have to ask why, and what’s [00:30:00] happening externally to that community that creates that environment. Uh, so when people ask me questions like that, I say that that’s trauma, you know? When, if someone, it has the privilege to have more proximity to whiteness than I do, that’s going to create some anger and frustration in me. It’s going to create that scarcity mindset that says there’s not enough that only a few of us are going to get access to resources. And this person is using something to their benefit that I don’t have, so maybe they don’t need what I have. They don’t need my support. They don’t need my time. They don’t need my energy. And it took me- I’m really looking at the ways that I’ve processed internalized racism- to see, you know, to have compassion for people who navigate, you know, white supremacy culture in a way- a wide variety of ways, including myself, you know? From the way that I talk to certain people, the tone of voice that I use, depending on what setting and environment I’m in, the types of words I use, you know? What titles I might lead with, how much woman can I be, you know? There’s [00:31:00] all these different intersectionalities and, different ways that we navigate systems of oppression. Um, and I think one of them is to counsel other folks so that you can feel okay with the situation that you find yourself in. So it’s not something that I, you know, am a big fan of at all. And I’ve learned, I’ve had to realize that, you know, maybe there’s some of that in me, and how can I challenge it within myself instead of looking externally and judging what other people are doing to protect themselves and then society that we find ourselves in. 

Ronan: [00:31:32] Can you speak a little bit more specifically to the ways in which you said you navigate white supremacy culture? Because I think one of the things, and one of the things I’d love to get out of this podcast is to enable people to stop and say, oh yeah, I heard that podcast with Deran, and she does this thing which she’s now self-identified as her way of navigating white supremacy culture. It’s like, “oh, I do something similar.” And then you can kind of create that awareness of people. Cause I think for so much of society, people are, [00:32:00] aren’t even willing to entertain these conversations at all-

Deran: [00:32:02] Right.

Ronan: [00:32:03] -let alone understand them. It’s- they’re just not willing to go there, but if you can make that connection and being like, ‘oh shit, I do that,’ then you open up to the ability to have that conversation. So curious to know in as much detail as you’re willing to share the ways you’ve seen you do that?

Deran: [00:32:19] Yeah, I think it’s important for all of us to look at the ways that we do that, because if it’s in the air that we’re all breathing, you know, then we all have it inside of us. We all have white supremacy, culture living inside of our hearts, our minds and our bodies. Um, and so, and, and one of the ways that I’ve noticed that it really- lately psychedelics has really showed me that it’s showing up in my life is being so disconnected from the land. Um, that is, you know, as an African heritage person, we have all, we are still living off the land in Africa. So why am I so disconnected from my true nature of origin, uh, where I live inside of what someone on clubhouse said, a box inside of a box, you know, our rooms, we’re on a [00:33:00] screen, which is a box. I’m in my living room inside of a house inside of a city, you know? Inside of a state in a country. All these boxes that are disconnecting us from the land and from ourselves and from each other. Um, and so connectedness is to me, a very global concept in, in other places of the world. It’s like, we all know that we’re connected to our culture, to our families. And in America, is all about individualism. It’s about survival of the fittest. It’s about, you know, competing and striving and, you know, grinding and, um, you know, working as hard as we possibly can and just, you know, and having as much as we possibly can and not thinking about impact, not thinking about, you know, offering, not thinking about service, just really thinking about taking and extracting and oftentimes exploiting. And we get into these power dynamics where we have to be right. I have to be, you know, everything has to be my way. I have to control the environment so that it suits me. And so that’s what I was doing. [00:34:00] You know, when I joined the military, I was very purposeful about how I navigated, you know, leadership, how I navigate- like was I able to fully show up as a black woman or did I have to kind of tuck my hair in, you know, and tuck a little bit of my femininity in with it, you know? And I was, I was primed to do that in childhood. So it’s something that, you know, my flexibility being able to go get up and go, um, and kind of, as you alluded earlier, you know, when you come from a marginalized community, you do have a layer of empathy that other people don’t have. You have to, you know? In order to survive, you have to be able to say, “what’s it like to be us?” You know, what is this experience that’s happening for us? How do I navigate that? Um, and so you have to be keenly aware of your own experience and what’s happening outside of that community. And so I think that there, there is a certain level of empathy that comes with that with being marginalized and as a [00:35:00] black woman, you know, with who grew up poor there’s many different intersectionalities, and I think that what I’ve had to realize is whiteness and dominance are kind of synonymous. And so, if I look at my one-on-one interactions with people, am I showing up to listen and, and grow and learn and connect and have compassion? Or am I showing up to judge and be right and with my ego, you know, and so I’m getting better at listening, but I haven’t always really had people around me to listen to. I was very much like, you know, me against the world, I’m going to go take on the military and get my education. Then I’m gonna go take on racism. And then I’m going to go take on trauma and mix the two and take on racial trauma, and you know, and it’s been very much like a fight, you know, which is, you know, just represents the fight or flight syndrome that I learned in childhood. So I’ve al- I’ve been stuck in fight or flight a lot of my life. Um, my mom was very much, you know, pro black and fight mode. She was very Malcolm [00:36:00] X to my Martin. Um, and I realized the balance of the two of us was Maya. [laughter] So you know balancing out energies is something that has been important to my nervous system. Uh, it wasn’t something that I was able to do in grad school. Wasn’t something that I was able to do in the military, because it was a very, un- you know, not safe, psychologically, safe environment, right? If the environment is not psychologically safe, if you have to go to a workplace and pretend like Breonna Taylor didn’t just die yesterday, or George Floyd wasn’t murdered yesterday, you know, that’s not a safe environment where you can let your guards down and be vulnerable and be seen by other people, emotionally and spiritually. So there is, there are times where we have to armor up as Brené Brown calls it and protect ourselves psychologically and spiritually, and I’m looking to create more spaces for myself, you know, where I don’t have to do that. I think it’s a privilege though, it’s the one that I have, you know, because I’ve been able to [00:37:00] navigate whiteness and to have proximity to whiteness, uh, I’ve been able to be afforded a certain resources. And, um, I have a friend who, who had the perfect quote, Dr. Percy Ballard, he’s a Harvard-trained black psychiatrist. And I love saying that because I’m like, we’re going to put some respect all the way up on his name. It’s not easy being a Harvard-trained black  psychiatrist, you know? That’s a very, a very armored up environment. And so I asked him, I said, “how did you get into psychedelics, you know? How did you find your way here?” And it’s, it’s having this really beautiful effect on him that I’m just loving, you know, the experience of, so I wanted to know, you know, how did this happen? And he said, “Deran, to get into a psychedelic-assisted therapy, you just got to know enough white people.” And I laughed, like you just did, but then I thought, “Wow, that’s sad because it’s true.’ You know, if I couldn’t navigate whiteness, I wouldn’t be here. 

Ronan: [00:37:53] I’m sure. Yeah, absolutely. I, I, we just completed a, survey about, you know, [00:38:00] attitudes towards psychedelics and mental health and all that kind of stuff. And then one of the things that stood out, because one of the questions was, you know, have you tried psychedelics, would you be willing to try a psychedelic-assisted therapies? And, you know, after educating people a little bit about the safety and efficacy of them, you know, would you be open-minded to it? And it, the number one from lower to about half of Americans would be willing to try psychedelics or have tried psychedelic-assisted therapies,  or would be open-minded to doing so if they needed it, which very impressive. But that was about, the response was about half in the black community, very much more resistant to these ideas than the broader population in, in the black community. And, I mean, I, I think I, I can understand why, but I’d be curious to know, um, you know, you’re thinking about why is it a “white thing” and why is navigating, uh, the white community what [00:39:00] enabled this and, how do you think we start to change attitudes within the black communities towards this? Cause I have other questions, which you said, uh, there’s a great deal of momentum right now, uh, and that psychedelic assisted therapy is potentially the gold standard for racial trauma, which I think there’s a lot of truth to that. So there’s two questions baked into there, but I’d love your thoughts on both.

Deran: [00:39:22] Yeah. And so the first question I heard is, um, why do I think black people are so resistant to psychedelics? Is that right? 

Ronan: [00:39:32] Yeah. Or, or why, why did you have to navigate white culture to-

Deran: [00:39:39] Why is it so white? [laughter] Okay. Well, I think it’s so white because, uh, we are, there seems to be an ongoing effort to whitewash the, the understanding and the wisdom of plant medicine, and I, I like calling it plant medicine to know kind of where it comes from, right? It’s a really, at least [00:40:00] acknowledge and respect the origin. Um, if we’re gonna use it in a medical setting and we’re going to use it in a more westerized way, I think we should at least pay homage as to where it comes from. Um, so I think that that’s one of the things, you know, that this we have to- I had to go back and learn and remind myself that this is not something that started in this country, that- or maybe it did start in this country, but if it did, it was with the indigenous culture. Um, but you know, that this is not something that’s so far removed from African culture. And what actually has happened is that I am far removed from African culture, um, which goes back to that whole McDonald’s and mushroom thing, you know? I am very far removed from the culture in which my ancestors, um, relied on for their survival and for their resilience really. For their healing. And so that, that other question that you previously asked, you know, what, what keeps me going and what do I think kept my ancestors going is the, the spirituality and the community of healing that we had back then. Um, and the farther [00:41:00] away we get from who we really truly are, I think the more difficult it is to navigate, uh, this society that actually was not created for us, for people that look like me or you, Ronan, you know? Like, just not for anybody who isn’t, you know, from the dominant white culture, um, it wasn’t created for- and male culture- it wasn’t created for that. So, uh, I think that, you know, the systems and the policies through the war on drugs and before the war on drugs, everything that was done to kind of, to prove that a, the mushroom was bad and “this is a drug” and “caffeine is good. You know, you need more caffeine. That’s what you really need.” [laughter] Around that same time, “We just need to all to work and quote, unquote, get with the program, you know? You’re trying to expand your consciousness. You are not on our programming,” right? “So here’s some coffee, uh, here’s some alcohol, you can be on that program. And here’s a shit ton of sugar. That’s the program we want you [00:42:00] on.” [laughter] And I think a lot of us are still stuck on that program. And I’m trying to unwind myself from that. And I, I think getting back to the land, getting back to culture, getting back to community collective, um, are the ways that I’m doing that. And I think that black people are just traumatized. They don’t have access to the same things I have access to. Um, if you’re not credentialed, if you don’t have the academic background, the titles, the, the military experience, you know? I have a lot of whiteness on my resume, you know? I read as a white person, know two master’s degrees, in this society it’s sad, because when I go to Africa, I read like an African, you know? And there’s, there’s no question about, you know, my, my abilities or my capacities as a black woman in Africa, because everybody’s black and you see black brilliance represented everywhere. So the programming here tells us that blackness and greatness are [00:43:00] not synonymous. And the, and we’ve all kind of breathed in this, this concept of anti-blackness, um, as we’ve been trying to navigate whiteness, 

Ronan: [00:43:08] Right. What, what’s it like? I mean, you touched on it there, but when you go back to Africa, like, what is, what is the difference? Like, what do you feel? 

Deran: [00:43:16] [laughter] I, it’s funny. I try not to feel most of the time when I’m in America, but when I’m outside of America, it’s like I can, there’s like, there’s this heaviness just kind of drifts off. I’ll be honest, whether I’m in China, Italy, you know, I’ve been all over the world and it’s like, “Wow.” You know, they’re looking at my green dollar. They’re not looking at my black skin. And so, you know, I realized that I have American privilege that I need to own and, you know, acknowledge, um, because there’s a lot of privilege in being able to bounce all around the world at your will. Um, and I didn’t know that until I was able to do it. So, uh, I think that, yeah, being out of the country has, has taught me a lot about racism in America. In fact, [00:44:00] my sister and I, we were in Paris and she said, you know, “I’m getting a lot of attention from all these men.” And I’m like, “Yeah, because you’re beautiful.” And she was like, “But I don’t get this much attention from white men in public in America.” And I’m like, “Yeah, cause they’re racist.” [laughter] And we don’t know it. We’re were carrying these anti-black messages inside of our minds and our bodies and we don’t know it. So what it was like to go to a country where everybody’s black, you know, every lawyer and doctor is black. Um, every pilot is black. Every, you know, every person on the billboard that, you know, represents beauty is black, is a black woman. You know, all the beauty standards are black women, except for the colonialized ways in which, uh, black women there, African women are bleaching their skin and straightening their hair. Um, that that’s definitely an infusion of the white culture, uh, European-centric values of beauty. But everywhere you look it’s like, this is what beauty is. This is the [00:45:00] culture is, is seen as beautiful and prideful. And they really have, um, especially in Ghana, they have a lot of pride around who they are and where they are. 

Ronan: [00:45:09] Right. Yeah, no, that, that totally resonates. It’s- just listening to you talk, I realize how little I see of the world. And I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, that during one psychedelic experience I had, I was walking in the woods and I was watching leaves fall down and I realized, A, I was paying attention to leaves falling down in the fall, which most of us just ignore. And then I realized that I was trying to watch multiple leaves falling down, which usually if you do happen to bother, to pay attention to a leaf, falling out of a tree, you look at one, and then you kind of move on, and I was kind of aware of every, a whole bunch of them falling. And then I kind of became cognizant of how much is happening around me, that I am absolutely not aware of 99.9% of the time. Even in that moment, you know, I wasn’t aware of literally, almost everything that was happening. My, my [00:46:00] perception of what I could take in was such a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of what was going on, it really gave you a new appreciation. And that was only right there in that very single moment, let alone throughout history, which, you know, historians talk about, like they actually have any frigging clue what happened, which, you know, no disrespect. Like it took me till that moment to appreciate little, how little I was actually appreciating, uh, about what was right in front of me. But, uh, on that note, this is a podcast fundamentally about psychedelics. So, what was the moment that opened you up to the conversation about psychedelics? If you don’t mind sharing, can you talk about some of your experiences on psychedelics and some of the more profound awarenesses or experiences you had during that? Because, uh, um, I, like, I think psychedelics are kind of like meditations: things come up and they’re uniquely personal to the person who experiences, but there are themes and resonances that do often [00:47:00] speak to other people. It’d be like, “Oh yeah, that, that actually lands with me.” So I always like to have an opportunity to have people share about their experiences because you never know, it may actually influence or impact another person.

Deran: [00:47:12] Yeah, I think- so what I think I was probably always primed to want to do something like this, but the stigma of society told me drugs were bad, you know? And, and that was one of the things I was thinking about one of your previous questions that I know I go in circles sometimes, but bear with me. 

Ronan: [00:47:28] It’s ok.

Deran: [00:47:29] It’s just how my brain is wired. [laughter] It’s the ADHD parts is what I call them. Um, so when you asked about, you know, black- why are black people hesitant, and I always like to remind folks that black folks are not a monolith because you know, it depends on where you’re socially located in and within your blackness. If you’re a biracial, if you are poor, middle class, wealthy, if you grew up with wealth, if you have generational poverty, um, and one of the things I think that generational poverty creates is a scarcity [00:48:00] around, um, wellness and mindset and sanity. It makes you feel that at any moment you might lose it all. You might lose your identity. You might lose, you know, you’re home. For a long time after I got out of the military, I kept really preparing myself to be homeless. I kept thinking at any moment, I’m going to be homeless. And it didn’t matter that I was a retired captain from the air force who, you know, just bought a home, um, who, you know, was getting $60,000 a year for retirement. Regardless of if I work in or not ever again, I would have had needed a plan for if I ever needed to escape homelessness. And so my plan was like, “Okay, let’s practice. It let’s practice the worst case scenario.” Worst case scenario was I will be back in the kitchen, um, on the floor with my son eating ramen noodles every day. So I practiced that one time to see what that was like. And I began to realize [00:49:00] like, even if this is the worst case scenario, we’ll be okay, you know? But that, that survival instinct to, you know, need to be okay. Um, is, is something that I think grows in people who come from generational poverty. Um, and, and it’s on my sons’ both sides. His dad, you know, grew up in a village that still doesn’t have electricity or running water. Um, and so he’s very much aware of like, you know, we could lose it all. Yes. We’re in America, today. And, you know, things are going well today, but you just never know, and I’m sure a lot of Jewish people can probably relate to that feeling as well. I’ve seen it in a lot of my [inaudible]. 

Ronan: [00:49:35] A hundred percent. 

Deran: [00:49:37] Yeah. 

Ronan: [00:49:37] Yeah, I live with that. Like at any given time, like, I feel like this could all disappear. Um, everything that’s been achieved or I’ve achieved, you know? It feels like it could become like a, and I mean, it’s not just intergenerational. I watched it happen to my grandfather who was extraordinarily wealthy, died bankrupt. Doesn’t- happened to my grandfather who was extraordinarily wealthy and died virtually bankrupt. So it- what you’re saying there resonates [00:50:00] very deeply with me as well. So I appreciate you saying that. 

Deran: [00:50:03] Yeah. So I think that that, you know, that, that lends itself to risk [laughter] as well. Like, I don’t mind living out on a limb a little bit cause it can be all gone anyway. [laughter]

Ronan: [00:50:16] Exactly 

Deran: [00:50:17] Uh, so it’s, it’s a fine line to kind of travel. And I think that I’ve been traveling it for a long time, being in the military, you know, going out on the limb of being a mental health professional as a black woman. Um, you know, when I became a therapist, it wasn’t a popular career. It wasn’t something that black people ascribed to be, you know? It was like “mental health, that’s for white people. Therapy is for white people.” So I would, it I’ve always done a lot of quote unquote white people shit, you know? [laughter] For my family, [inaudible] to my family, right?. Um, and my sister still is like, “Oh, that’s white people shit.” [laughter] So I’ve always been the one who’s been willing to be different and willing to explore. And, you know, even going to thirty-seven different countries, [00:51:00] eight of them with a small toddler and went to China with a three-year-old, you know, I’ve always kind of done things that were probably wild to somebody. [laughter] I’m really listening to my own inner guidance, that deeper side of me, like I said, I believe that our ancestors, um, needed to do that. And they had that spirit of, you know, if you were gonna get out of bondage and slavery, you had to be willing to escape. You had to be willing to do some things that, you know, you deeply believed in. Um, and I think about Harriet Tubman, when I think about that, you know, that she freed so many people and she said I could have freed so many more had they known that they were in bondage. Um, so, so I, I think I’ve always been proud [of] my mother, like I said, she’s always- growing up, she always made sure that I was aware of who my ancestors were and what they accomplished and how powerful they were, and I, and that, that was also in me, and that I could achieve anything, you know, and, and seeing her, and being able to hear that from someone who’s struggled with addiction, [00:52:00] I think is, you know, a really big gift. Um, and the privilege that a lot of people didn’t have. Um, so I don’t know. I think it’s just the lineage that I happen to be born into and the ancestors that I’m, you know, fully aware of and that I know that their powers inside of me, um, and that everything- that every place that I’ve gone has been for a reason, you know? I’ve never gone anywhere that I feel like I didn’t belong or that it was a mistake or, I mean, maybe temporarily, “like what the hell was I thinking,” you know, upon initial arrival. Uh, but gradually I started to, you know, just find myself settling in and feeling like, “Well, I can do this.” Um, and so that’s kind of, I started off, I would say my, my drug experience because, uh, coming out of the military, I was very afraid. And like I said, I think that black healthcare professionals in specific are very afraid of losing it all. And so drugs were something to me that was a fast way to lose it all. And I would stay far, far away. I never, I [00:53:00] didn’t drink until during my divorce when I was 34, you know? I try to stay away from anything that I thought might alter my consciousness because my, I feel like my consciousness was just fine. Even if it was a little traumatized, it was mine. I knew it. And I had made peace with it, you know? Um, and so, uh, I went to an IFS training, retreat-style training, and, uh, like I said, kind of just started gravitating towards some Jewish girls that I really fell in love with, and then still very close with today. Um, and they introduced me to cannabis. And I was like, “Oh my goodness,” like, “what is this?” Literally like three days after I retired from the military officially, so I  was off the hook and it felt like, okay, I can try this, you know, not get in any trouble. [laughter] I won’t get any immediate trouble. Um, I remember saying to my friend, like, “How did you get this here? Cause you’re from Boston. And this- we’re in Texas and Texas-  this is bad in Texas.” I grew up in Texas, I know, you know how serious [00:54:00] things like this are still in Texas. And, uh, she said, “Oh, well, I just took it on the plane with me.” And I thought, “What the hell kind of privilege is that?” And I just said it. I said, “Oh, that’s, that’s a really privileged way to navigate the world” because I would never, you know, I was like, terrified at that time of us getting caught, you know, first of all, doing what we were doing. Um, but then I thought, okay, if I’m gonna, you know, try cannabis with a bunch of therapists, I might as well throw some therapy in here. So we started, you know, talking about our pars and processing some of our trauma around being Jewish and being black. And I started realizing that legacy is a really huge piece of trauma that the mental health world hadn’t been talking about. Um, and so, ancestral healing and racial trauma are something that I began doing my own work with, through cannabis-assisted therapy and now psychedelic-assisted therapy. And it just, so I feel like the most blessed and [00:55:00] privileged person in the world, because I got to do ketamine-assisted therapy with I’m a first-generation Nigerian American at Field Trip, and that was deeply profound healing for me. Um, and so I just, you know, there’s certain places that talk therapy can’t take us. And I think across lineages and ancestors is one of those places, for sure. Um, and so I just, I just feel like I had enough privilege and enough, you know, um, strength, inner strength, and inner resources to get me here. My ancestors are doing the rest.

Ronan: [00:55:37] That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing. Was that your first time trying, I guess, a larger dose of psychedelics, uh, or have there been other experiences and was there anything in particular that came out during your experience, uh, that you would like to share? Obviously, there is no pressure. 

Deran: [00:55:55] Yeah, no, I love to- I love sharing. [laughter] One of [00:56:00] the things that I, uh, told myself going into ketamine, I was very, very, very, very, very turned off of ketamine. From the minute I heard about it, I was like absolutely not. We’re never doing that. We’re never going to tell anyone else to do that. That sounds like a no, because the rule that I had for my- you know, I had to have rules for everything because that’s kind of the way my brain is. Like, if you don’t have rules, you’re going to lose it all. So now we’re like, okay, now we have the little guard rails, those safety perceived safety, right? And every now and then somebody kicks over the guard rail. It was like, okay, well now we’re gone, [laughter] we’re off, no more control. So the first guard rail was, uh, with cannabis, I said, I would only do it around other people who could provide it for me. And I knew that it was coming from a safe place. I couldn’t imagine myself out here on the streets looking for cannabis. That just did not pass my safety test. Um, so I would only do it with my Jewish friends. So I would make every opportunity to be with my Jewish [00:57:00] friends for that reason. Um, but the guard rail fell off one day when they gave me edibles for the first time. And she said, “This is for now, this is for later,” she said, “This is for now, this, these two are for later.” And I didn’t know what later meant. And because I was in the military and I think I had repressed, you know, fun for so long, I think I just wanted that part of me probably just wanted to see what it was like to take it all. So I took one and then an hour later, I thought maybe an hour or two hours was the later, I took the other two and I had the most psychedelic experience and the most horrifying experience at the same time. I felt like I came face-to-face with death. I purged about fifteen times that night and she was worried, you know, she wanted to help take care of me as a, she’s a very Jewish mom style woman, which I love on most days, but I felt like I was at my most vulnerable state and I just needed to do it. Like I just needed to go through it by myself. So I told myself that I was going to die, [00:58:00] you know, that I, as I had my face in the toilet and that this was going to be the way that I died and I needed to make peace with it. Um, and I said, I said, okay, “They’re going to say that you killed yourself at an IFS training when you had the possibility of, you know, working with Dick Schwartz. [laughter]  So that, you know, once I survived that and like talked to her about it, talk to other people about it, I thought, “you know, if that’s the source of my shame that I’m going to die this, you know, horrible death, that other people are going to shame me about, maybe it’s not the worst of my worries as I attempt to live, you know? Like if I’m living my life, thinking about how other people are gonna perceive my death, you know, maybe it’s time to let that go. [laughter] So, you know, that was a relief. 

Ronan: [00:58:51] Maybe that’s the greatest glory of death: that you don’t have to stick around to see what happens from it. 

Deran: [00:58:56] Right, It’s like, why do I care what other people think about my death? [00:59:00] But that’s always, I’m realizing that’s a very common thought when we’re, when people are having a psychedelic journey, it was like, “Oh, I’m going to kill myself. And this is going to be the most stupid way to do it,” you know? And it’s like, well, let’s just lean into that and see, you know, what’s under that. What’s the fear that’s really underneath that? It’s the fear of being judged, you know, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of not being worthy. Um, so I would say mushrooms has been the, the, um, tool that has helped me really kind of get in touch with that fear, because I’ve been able to get in touch with a three month old part of me that was in the NICU. Uh, three months after I was born, I got pneumonia because my mother couldn’t afford heat. Um, you know, as a sixteen year old mother. So I, that those are some of the things that really have been driving my life and my vision and my purpose. And I had no real known reason, you know, why am I so passionate about advocating for, you know, people who are marginalized and it’s because that’s kind of how my life got started. Um, and when I was on life support my mom, she [01:00:00] tells me the story, “You were on life support, but you’ve been strong ever since,” you know, she’s a very optimistic person. That’s kind of how she reframed it to me. Um, but just really thinking about what was it like to be a three month old baby who needed, you know, a fourth trimester and needed to have warmth and connection and to be placed in a, you know, incubator in a very sterile environment. And actually ketamine was able, through the ketamine journey, I was able to actually feel the intensity of that pain and discomfort. And I realized why, you know, my protectors or my, my coping mechanisms have been fighting them off for my entire life. So mushrooms showed me what it was that made me feel so disconnected from everybody else, and ketamine kind of brought me into my body enough to actually feel that pain so that I know what it feels like when it, when it shows up in my everyday life. When, when I’m feeling afraid to, um, a big part of my PTSD is that I like to avoid crowds and it’s gotten to the place where I actually like to avoid humans [01:01:00] altogether, you know, just easier through the screen, right? Being in a box with a box in a box in a box, is a very protected  place to be, you know? [laughter] And now that I’m a social media influencer and a leader, it’s like, I can just do this all day and all my life and, you know, and it would be okay, right? And I think as millennials, we’ve gotten really accustomed to technology and the filter of reality. Um, and so for me, I’m just, you know, I’m using the medicines to really teach me more about myself and how I can be of service to our planet. Um, and I think that that’s something that everybody should want for themselves, but not everybody has access to. 

Ronan: [01:01:37] Thank you for sharing all that. I kind of want to stop there because it was such an excellent way to close, but, uh, I’m a sucker for punishment so I’m gonna ask you two more, hopefully quick questions. But the first is, uh, you know, if you could go back and tell that inner three-month old or some parts of your inner child, cause I’ve been going through a little, a lot of inner [01:02:00] child work right now, what would you go back and tell them? And then the second question is for someone who may be listening to this, or, you know, following Deran Young, who was now talking about these crazy thing called- these crazy white things called psychedelics. Um, what advice would you give them, if they’re interested in learning more, how they should think about it or any piece of advice that you’d like to leave behind for anyone who’s listening? 

Deran: [01:02:26] Yeah, I think I would say to my three month old, so, um, I would say to her, “You belong here in this world. You have a place here in this world that is very important and you are so loved that you are the symbol of love, that everything about you represents love.”

Ronan: [01:02:44] It’s beautiful. Thank you. Okay, I’m not going to ask that other question again, cause that’s a better place to end. So thank you so much, Deran for joining us today. This has been fantastic. It’s been really delightful chatting with you. I think this is the first time we really got any chance to speak [01:03:00] one-on-one. I thought everything you shared was so insightful and powerful and just, you know, even, even in some of the most tough topics to discuss you bring a, a levity that makes it approachable. And I think that’s a really magical gift, um, because it can make hard subjects much easier to engage, not to dismiss the intensity of that, but sometimes you, you need an opening to enable people to have these conversations. And, and I think you’re, you’re very special at that. So thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for being part of Field Trip. Thank you for all the work you’re doing with Black Therapist Rocks- Black Therapists Rock. I don’t know why I always add the S at the end of that. I apologize. Uh, but it’s been a real pleasure. 

Deran: [01:03:44] My honor. Thank you.

Ronan: [01:03:50] If there’s one thing that I can’t get past in reflecting on my conversation with Deran, it’s just how much her life is the narrative of a movie. In so many ways, [01:04:00] she lived the quintessential narrative of growing up black in America. Decended from slaves, alcoholism, and addiction and poverty defined her childhood. She was raised by her grandmother because her mother wasn’t able to adequately care for her. Yet, she served with distinction and weaved that system to enable her to break the chains of bondage. You can still hear it in the descriptions of her first drug experiences, defined by the fact that as a black person in the U.S., the risks of cannabis or other drug-use are defined by the disproportionate prosecution of the black community and such illogical criminal laws. In so many ways, Deran reminds me of this passage from Still Life with Woodpecker: “The difference between a criminal and an outlaw is that while criminals frequently are victims, outlaws never are. Indeed, the first step toward becoming a true outlaw is the refusal to be victimized. When war turns whole populations into sleepwalkers, outlaws don’t join forces with the alarm clocks. Outlaws, like poets, [01:05:00] rearrange the nightmare.” No one I’ve met has so successfully rearranged the seeming nightmare she was born into than Deran.

Well, that was a sincerely amazing conversation with Deran Young. Uh, her story is just so fascinating, so inspiring and so impactful. Thank you for listening, but before you go, I hope you’ll stick around to listen to some of the audience questions that we’ve received. And here’s one in particular: it’s low hanging fruits, I’m going to take the easy soft ball being lobbed at me, which says, “Which psychedelic do you think will be the next to be legalized and how do I get some?” I’m not going to suggest how you get some, I’m sure you can figure that out on your own if you’re super keen to do so, but certainly the next psychedelic to be legalized is going to be psilocybin in the state of Oregon and potentially in Canada, uh, as [01:06:00] well as MDMA, which is likely to receive FDA approval for the treatment of PTSD, uh sometime in 2023 is what MAPS, the organization conducting the clinical trials, is suggesting. So sometime in the next two, one to three years, you’re going to see legal access to psilocybin and or MDMA, and to get your hands on some, well it seems that I’ve never known anyone who has had trouble finding drugs if they want them. So I’m sure if you really want them, you can find them, just make sure you do your thoughtful due diligence to make sure you’re finding safe supply, uh, because the worst thing you,can do is try and do something that’s therapeutic and actually do worse damage to yourself. So always keep that in mind. 

So thank you for listening to Field Tripping, a podcast that’s dedicated to exploring psychedelic experiences and their ability to affect our lives. I’m your host Ronan Levy. Until next time, stay curious, breathe properly, and remember, every day is a field trip if you let it [01:07:00] be one. Field Tripping is created by Ronan Levy. Our producers are Conrad Page and John Cvack and associate producer is Sharon Bella. Special thanks to Kast Media and of course, many thanks to Deran Young for joining me. To learn more about her work and the important work she’s doing, visit blacktherapistsrock.com. No “S” at the end of rock, even though I couldn’t say that during the podcast.  Finally, please rate, review and subscribe to our podcast and sign up for our newsletter at fieldtripping.fm or wherever you get your podcasts, or leave us a voicemail at speakpipe.com/field tripping, or send us an email to [email protected]. That’s Kast with a K. Thanks for listening.