REPRESENTATION MATTERS “I AM HER AND SHE IS ME AND THAT IS OKAY”: Reflection and Recognition this Pride Month

For many of us trying to define ourselves in a primarily binary world is uncomfortable, and in the end, impossible. Seeing ourselves in these polarized “male” or “female” versions of the societal “norms” is like attempting to fit a puzzle piece from one puzzle into another. It just won’t fit, no matter how badly someone else might hope that it will, no matter how angry someone gets because of it, it simply does not fit. I understood this at a young age but was unsure of how to articulate it, and in all honesty afraid of vocalizing it at all for fear of what my homophobic father and people at school would say or do. I clearly remember the first time I saw the movie that changed my perception of myself forever though, Set It Off.

I grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada. A city that is most widely known for The Strip and its tourist attractions. The Vegas I knew was a bit more volatile. It’s flashing lights consisted of the red white and blues of the local police harassing the people in my neighborhoods, so when I came across a movie with four leading woman of color, from neighborhoods similar to my own, with a character that I could relate to on so many levels, I was struck. Queen Latifah plays Cleo, a strong, proud, take no shit, lesbian. Finally, there was someone on screen who I felt mirrored my anger and shared my preferences. I was her and she was me and that was okay. 

Representation matters and although comfort with myself and understanding the spectrum of gender and sexuality didn’t come for a long time after, this was a turning point in the acceptance of my strength and my power. There was absolutely nothing wrong with me.

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Nola Evangelista’s Tokin’ Women – A 4000-Year Herstory of Women and Marijuana By Nola Evangelista: A Review

Women are more visible than ever in the cannabis industry. Groups like Women Grow and the many female-owned businesses are gaining more and more momentum. Even here at DOPE Magazine we have a high concentration of female contributors. And it’s no wonder: cannabis consumption by women is neither new nor unusual, and the presence of increasingly more female professionals in the cannabis industry is a testament to that. That’s why I was stoked to find Tokin Women: A 4000-year Herstory of Women and Marijuana by Nola Evangelista aka Ellen Komp of CalNORML. Tokin Womoen125 pages dedicated to influential women who have played historical and present-day roles in the cannabis space.

Tokin’ Women highlights over 50 women, including the well-known influencers Josephine Baker, Billie Holiday and Whoopi Goldberg. This book highlights each woman’s lifetime accomplishments in the cannabis space accompanied by a photo. Every woman’s section stands alone so you can read about whomever you want, in no particular order. I learned so much so fast!

The effects of marijuana were spoken of lovingly by many of the women in this book, and I feel a kinship with this love. These incredible women and I have shared the same experience, the same infatuation with cannabis. Maya Angelou describes how marijuana made her job as a waitress bearable, and how her outlook on life changed drastically when she began to smoke pot. “For the first time, life amused me…” she said, and I know exactly what she meant. Smoking marijuana helped me through the worst jobs, the longest days and the dullest moments. To know some of the women I truly admire have used cannabis to elevate themselves creatively and spiritually is inspiring.

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