Black Womxn & Cannabis: An Interview with Tiarra Kelly
By: DM BLUNTED
This month I wanted to talk to a Black Womxn that inspires me, to get their perspective on all things cannabis! Boys, girls, and squirrels I present you, Tiarra Kelly. The non-binary, bald-headed, academy award winning baddie.
Who is Tiarra Kelly?
I am a creator. A model, a dancer, an influencer and a fighter.
What was your first experience with cannabis like?
I smoked weed when I was 16. I went to a dance school and knew a bunch of girls - we went and smoked in the woods and I just remember being like, “what the hell.” This is some next level shit. We went back and were dancing in a room, I just felt like, wow. My jumps are so much higher...my first experience was magical as fuck. I just felt like you can do anything high.
What inspired you to get into cannabis and how do you feel like you’ve been received by the industry?
Well, of course, moving to LA, you have more access to cannabis than other places. And like already being a smoker just made me want to be closer to it. It’s hard (finding) work at dispensaries if you don’t know anyone, so I got into it as a model - working for brands and cannabis cups, stuff like that. I really loved the experience of learning about things that people have to pay to even experience. It’s still a little wonky being received as a Black Womxn, especially queer. So that's why I push to do videos and take photos because this is who I really am. Like if I’m on set you’re definitely going to find me in a corner smoking weed.
How has cannabis inspired/helped you, if it has?
It’s definitely helped, instead of taking anti-depressants, I smoke weed. It keeps me a bit more calm and helps my anxiety. I sometimes get really, really anxious when things aren’t going a certain way - it’s my Virgo rising, I need things to be in a certain order.
You touched lightly on mental health a bit, can you go deeper into that? There’s just not enough perspective on Black mental health and Black mental health with cannabis.
Growing up I saw people take anti-depressants and they just have to live on them for life to function, but they’re still not really “better.” And to me, when I had counseling as a kid they pretty much at one point were just like, “Oh, you just need anti-depressants.” And I was just like, that’s really your logic to my issues right now? I’m telling you all this shit and you’re telling me to get on some pills. Then there was this Christian thing my mom decided to take me to - which I was like, this is dumb. And by that time I was 16-17 years old, so from then on I was like, I need to do shit to make me better. The people around me don’t give a shit and they don’t know what I need. As I became freer and more explorative and had the connection to smoke cannabis more, that pretty much helped me realize this was keeping me calm. This was my medicine, smoking weed is my medicine.
Media and advertisement play a huge role in destigmatizing cannabis. How do you think brands and media outlets have handled this responsibility?
I still think brands are trash. I’ve been wanting to connect with more brands, so I’ve been researching and following their pages. But mostly all of them - if they post black people it’s dudes. And they all look like fake ass rappers. This girl had an event and she had a pitch-deck with “type of people you’ll meet.” And it was like, “maybe a rapper with two blunts in their mouth, with a vixen. Getting their weed from Wiz Khalifa.” I was just like what, no bitch. I’ve smoked with Wiz and Snoop and it’s not like that - it’s just not realistic. Stuff like that is wack. The cannabis industry markets to each other. They don’t care about people.
How do you feel like cannabis representation is for you, as a queer non-binary black person?
I don’t feel like I’m represented. But that’s why I represent myself, I don’t need others to represent me. No one can anyway. I’m like I don’t see anybody because I don’t see me. *Tiarra laughs hard at that* And even when they do post Black Womxn and stuff, it’s not even with cannabis - it’s always something else or some famous Black girl they found online. Or you have to look like a certain type of Black girl like you’re assimilated. Long weave, beat face and a Fashion Nova outfit.
What do you think needs to happen to make the cannabis industry more inclusive for Black Womxn?
The world has to be more inclusive to Black Womxn. I don’t know...I don’t know what’s so hard. You see the issue but you don’t do anything to fix it. So like hiring Black Womxn? Not even just hiring, it’s like authentically connect with Black Womxn. It’s just fake when brands or people are like, “be a part of my stuff and bring your people.” But you’re not even trying to make a real connection to build together - you’re just trying to use me. Like when queer people are used for marketing. They’re not really about creating inclusion, behind the scenes the whole team is white. They hire people when they need you to fill in and help them market to a specific group.
What advice do you have for other Black Womxn trying to get into cannabis?
I mean I don’t really know what to do, because I’m still trying to get in it, myself. I can’t give advice on what you should do, just like you can’t tell me what to do. Not everything people say or do will work for you. Like if you smoke weed and are a black person, showcase it, hit up brands. The more people do that and take up space and create the content they want to see - which is what I’m doing. Even if they don’t hit me up specifically, I know they’re seeing me. They’re seeing me out here with the people, and the people want more.