What we are reading | Issue No: 7

Francesca Recchia

Asim Rafiqui

Suchitra Vijayan

Psychedelics is a “white thing”. It is a common idea. Many people of colour view “tripping” as an effete practice of the privileged that the oppressed cannot afford. The sentiment is mirrored by the near invisibility of race as a topic in official, often all white, psychedelic conferences. Against white silence and black suspicion, more youth of colour, some affluent and integrated are experimenting with psychotropics. Using literature, history and personal testimony, we can map how psychedelics have been interpreted by Black America. What did Malcolm X say about it? Or modern day Afro Futurists? Can the promise of ego dissolution work when black ego defences are needed to withstand racism in America? Does the black experience re-frame as hypocritical, the grandiose, Utopian claims of the psychedelic movement? Or does it free people of colour to embrace a radical humanism, where the spirit arcs across the sky of history like a rainbow?

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