Gustavo Arellano put it well when describing Roberto Lovato’s piece on the gentrification of psychedelics: it’s about “all these intersections—of gentrification, of San Francisco, psychedelics, Indigenous history, fascist history, future trauma.” Lovato and Arellano traced a rough history of psychedelics and their use in therapies for Indigenous and non-white communities, debunking the myth that hippies were the first to trip. Today, as psychedelic-based therapies become more common and California gets closer to legalizing certain types of psychedelic drugs, “we’re at an inflection point in the history of consciousness,” Lovato said on Alta Live. “These are powerful medicines, and they also can be powerful weapons in the wrong hands.”
Lovato’s concern is that the so-called psychedelic renaissance, a term he takes issue with, is being appropriated by Silicon Valley titans like Peter Thiel and will make drug-assisted psychotherapies inaccessible to groups that have historically benefited from the treatments, a pattern he already sees in ketamine-assisted therapies. “My story is as much about, you know, sparking a part of the imaginary—of the decolonizing imaginary—and bringing it to psychedelics,” Lovato said. “Like the Black Panthers, like funk and Sly Stone, like Silicon Valley, like hot tubs…California is going to make an outsized contribution to the psychotherapeutic and other implications of psychedelics. And we have to be in on this, not this marginal 10 percent whose history has been completely erased.”
Check out these links to some of the topics Lovato and Arellano brought up this week.
- Read “The Gentrification of Consciousness,” by Lovato, from Alta’s Winter 2022 issue.
- Read Lovato’s Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas.
- Read “Is Death Dying? Día de los Muertos in San Francisco’s Mission District,” by Lovato, in Latino Rebels.
- Watch the 2021 documentary Summer of Soul.
- Browse Mark McCloud’s LSD blotter art collection, the Institute of Illegal Images.
- Learn more about San Francisco musician Carlos Santana.
- Learn more about the Wixárika people and their cultural use of peyote.
- Read Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control, by Stephen Kinzer, and learn more about CIA program MK-ULTRA.
- Learn more about the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts and poet Roberto Vargas.
- Read Arellano’s stories for Alta and watch his previous appearances on Alta Live.•