Celebrating Black Queer Womxn in Weed
Updated: Nov 2, 2020
Because White Supremacy and Homophobia Exist Year Round Including Pride Month
Similar to the criminalization of the plant, you may have noticed how the media produced within and about this newly regulated industry is rooted in systemic racism. In both subtle and overt ways, thus upholding the machine that is white supremacy, Black and brown queer folks, the most marginalized and susceptible to physical, mental, and institutionalized violence of all, have been disproportionately misrepresented, white-washed, or tokenized in cannabis-related media.
I first began this post after being called out for sharing one such piece of media on Facebook back in April. It was a piece titled “Queer Womxn in Weed” where those mentioned, including myself, had something glaring in common: white skin. I shared it haphazardly, proud to have been mentioned. But I saw it. I saw a lack of diversity and said nothing. We must do better. I must do better.
In the wake of movements like #blacklivesmatter happening all across our country and the world, the time to do better is now. This post is to acknowledge, celebrate, and get to know three Black queer womxn in weed. It’s about centering their stories not just during Pride Month, but all year long because these brave humans are existing at a time when that alone can threaten your life and livelihood.
Thank you for your time Amber, Tiffany, and CoCo. Thank you for talking experiences, racism, and your hopes for an industry with an enormous amount of work to do. You are seen. You are heard. You matter.
Amber E. Senter (she/her) is the Chief Executive Officer at LL Products, Inc., Co-Founder of Supernova Women, founder and CEO of Breeze Distro, a house of infused cannabis product brands and distribution located in Oakland, CA, and CEO of Shady Pines Box Club, a cannabis subscription box available in California.
What is it like to be a person of color in cannabis? As a newly regulated industry, how do your experiences differ from that of other industries?
Being a Black woman in cannabis is the same as being a Black woman in any other industry: it's racist and exhausting. My experience in cannabis is more burdensome than other industries because of all the regulations and lack of support (no federal banking, etc.) on top of the experience of being a queer Black woman. The cannabis trade is an industry that has been built on the backs of Black and brown people, however, most of the white companies that dominate the industry don't seem to want to acknowledge that. The regulated industry was introduced by queer folks and their allies in cannabis, however, that is rarely acknowledged. It's all very tiring.
Who’s one of your heroes and why?
My hero is my grandfather, Chester Massey. He is one of the strongest people I ever met. Resilient and brilliant. Loved by all in his community. He picked cotton as a kid, he actually had to drop out of school in 4th grade to help his mom pick cotton. My grandfather ended up being a sharecropper until the early 50s. He and my grandma left Mississippi and migrated to Chicago when the landowner tried to make my pregnant grandma work in the fields. Later he came into his own. He sang in a traveling band. He became a businessman. He started a courier service that employed our family and many black folks from the community that couldn't get jobs because they were seen as "unemployable". He was featured in Black Enterprise Magazine three times. He was the definition of grit. He was so dope and a hero to many. He passed away when I was 10 but thankfully he was a huge part of my life and I learned a lot from him. All of us kids did. A model entrepreneur and a model to the community. He is goals.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to a BIPOC or queer person entering the cannabis industry?
Do your due diligence. Have grit. Be resilient. This is not an easy industry to navigate. It is all constantly changing, from companies being bought out to ever-changing regulations we have to remain agile to succeed.
How can the cannabis industry better support BIPOC patients, caregivers, and communities as a whole?
Patients need access to affordable cannabis products. We need access to compassionate cannabis. As the market currently stands, Black and brown folks are being priced out of the legal market. The taxes are far too burdensome.