Psychedelic Medicine


People of Color and Psychedelics with Ifetayo Harvey & Mary Sanders, LCSW


In this episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast, Ifetayo Harvey & Mary Sanders, LCSW join to discuss people of color and psychedelics. Ifetayo is a writer, advocate and speaker who founded the People of Color Psychedelic Collective. She has also previously worked with both MAPS and the Drug Policy Alliance. Mary Sanders is a licensed clinical social worker whose work focuses on addressing trauma in communities of color and marginalized populations. She is a founding board member at the People of Color Psychedelic Collective and is a trained psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist from both CIIS and MAPS. Mary is also certified in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and is currently enrolled at the somatic experiencing trauma institute.

This conversation with Ifetayo and Mary touches on many of the important topics in the intersection of the unique experiences of people of color and the use of psychedelic medicines. One immediate concern which has begun to be discussed more openly is that of POC representation in psychedelic spaces. Ifetayo and Mary both discuss this issue, mentioning how representation is especially crucial for something as vulnerable as psychedelic experiences, where facilitators are responsible for navigating a wide range of emotions which naturally arise in a ceremony or therapeutic setting. Having someone from one’s own community in these spaces can facilitate healing, as there is less anxiety around needing to explain specific experiences or trauma.

Despite these shortcomings of representation, psychedelic medicines have a lot of potential to provide healing for people of color in particular. Ifetayo and Mary discuss the experience of intergenerational trauma in communities of color and how psychedelics are able to shed light on this phenomenon. Ifetayo shares powerful experiences from the first People of Color Psychedelic Collective retreat before the pandemic and explains her own coming to consciousness of the brutality of slavery and Jim Crow and how dysfunctional behaviors which perpetrate intergenerational trauma originally developed as survival mechanisms for the black Americans who lived under these racist systems.

Mary also emphasizes that psychedelic healing for people of color needs to emphasize building community and creating strong interpersonal bonds. While the individual experiences provided by plant medicines are incredibly beneficial, the healing will be even more profound if it can be processed and integrated collectively, as people of color aren’t only healing individual ailments, but collective traumas rooted in shared histories of oppression.

In This Episode

• The unique needs of POC not typically addressed in psychedelic ceremonies or integration circles
• The disconnect between the Western therapeutic paradigm of healing individuals vs the more communal approaches to healing in traditional black cultures and how to bridge this gap
• How People of Color Psychedelic Collective creates community and fosters opportunities for people of color involved with psychedelics
• The intersection of intergenerational trauma and psychedelic healing for people of color


“Taking a medicine is a vulnerable state, where we have to be cautious: am I going to be minimized, are my visions going to be acknowledged and held with support and love and care?” [8:27]

“Healing is relational and it’s so important that we not only do the work in the therapy space but that we’re out and about with our friends and our family and our community members, especially our community members that have similar life experiences and histories.” [19:24]

“There’s a very very strong stigma around addiction [and] overdose because our communities have been harmed in so many ways by policing and bad drug policies.” [25:22]

“I think it’s really about uplifting the people who are already doing the work and then also supporting the folks who want to do the work, like providing them with resources, education, mentorship. Things like that will help usher in a new generation of [POC] healers, practitioners, leaders.” [39:35]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.