Episode 10

Marketing & Branding From the BIPOC Perspective

Marketing & Branding From the BIPOC Perspective

In this episode of our Higher Enlightenment Podcast, our host Tess Yancey brings on Kieryn Wang of ALMOSTCONSULTING, a women-owned and oriented consulting firm, as well as Courtney Wu of AMNESIA media, an expert on compliance, AI, and marketing for cannabis and CBD based influencers. All three are social-equity-minded women of color, speaking on issues involving BIPOC and self-identifying womxn in today’s thriving cannabis industry.

Issues touched on include mindful marketing and branding for companies that target BIPOC in both employment and advertising, as well as how businesses can engage in spaces where inclusivity is lacking while working to increase inclusivity and diversity. Additionally, Courtney, Kieryn, and Tess cover the best ways for businesses and brands to diversify in ways that are original and authentic, matching intention with impact, and avoiding performative practices and righteous allyship (in both social and business engagements) for non-BIPOC business owners and members.

As well as ethical business practices in the realm of social equity, Kieryn and Courtney discuss cannabis businesses that are either already making strides in accountability, inclusivity, and representation, but also other BIPOC owned and operated businesses. For more information, check out ALMOSTCONSULTING and Cannaclusive’s database, InclusiveBase, a collaborative effort to highlight BIPOC owned cannabis/ ancillary businesses, as well as businesses that are keeping their business and their actions accountable.

know, cannabis related and you know, hemp related brands, and you know, stores retail, all sorts of farms, like a nice array of brands and businesses. Yeah, so with almost consulting, we support with social media marketing, email marketing, and experiential marketing. And then of course, for me, personally, analytics is always tied into all of that, because analytics is something that lights me up very much. So, really thinking about, and especially now, you know, when we’re recording this, we’re in the pandemic, right? So a lot of people have come to me for virtual experiences and virtual marketing and that kind of thing, understanding how do I take this beautiful, you know, concept that I had for this physical space, and hopefully make it an online experience that people want to attend, right. And then also, of course, online, social media and email, which, you know, I’m sure we’ll get into a little bit later. And with that, you know, again, speaking to women, consumers, and I don’t think women really historically in cannabis, or in a lot of other industries, but in cannabis specifically, don’t really get the chance to, you know, have these really open spaces and safe spaces to talk about and ask questions and not, you know, feel judged? Or, you know, why would you be asking me that question? It’s so simple. It’s like, okay, no, everyone is at a different point, some people are very new have never touched the plant before, because there has been so much stigma attached to it, right, or they, you know, maybe have dabbled in it in the past, and, you know, haven’t really been entangled with it. And in a few years, and then, you know, as of recently, with recreational changes, and medical changes, and things like that, they have, you know, started to experiment again, with, you know, incorporating it into their holistic wellness plan, right. So, with that kind of just helping create an AI, through almost consulting, do events where we, you know, let women come together and learn about smokeable herbs, or learn about how to roll of Rose blunt, like, you know, incorporate it into your life however you want. Or just you know, how to make a really, really good CBD smoothie, or you know, whatever it is. So, helping provide the education and the access is really important. Hi, my


Courtney Woo  07:49

name is Courtney. I am the CEO and co founder of amnesia media, and we’re an influencer marketing platform that’s been built and designed specifically to address the cannabis space. One of the reasons that we set out on this endeavor together as a team is really because we felt that we really wanted to make sure that we were building a really thoughtful and a great cannabis culture, and why, what better place to do that than with people who are already cultural thought leaders, like influencers. And that really is to empower and consumers to be able to make the decisions that they need to make about what kind of cannabis product is going to be best for themselves. And so we’re really excited to be doing that. And we have a great team on our on our side. And we actually really focus on developing campaigns that incorporate compliance. And that’s a key factor of how our platform works is we want to make sure that everyone stays safe, and we’re marketing to the right people. Okay, cool. So I got my start, because I actually came from the regulated gambling industry, which is a really, I guess, it’s a it’s a very parallel industry. But it’s also really interesting. So just to kind of dial it back even further, I started out my career, working at Planned Parenthood, I was a health educator and I was gung ho about working in the public health space, and again, building like health promotion that was going to be culturally sensitive, and really bring access to health care. And that was a really key kind of passion of mine since I was a kid. And so I ended up moving to the UK to pursue that and do my masters in that. And unfortunately, I graduated from that when the recession hit. So no one was spending on preventative health care at that time, but the gambling industry was growing. And so I was able to get a random job there. And I ended up being at PokerStars, which is a pretty big gambling. If you guys aren’t aware, it’s the number one online poker platform in the world and ended up leading their pro and celebrity marketing department. So it was it was a really interesting time because again, it’s a really fragmented industry. The regulations are really difficult. It’s an age restricted product. There’s a lot of different things that people have to deal with. We had to deal with sometimes people having to exit markets literally within two weeks. And that’s it’s a, it’s a very specific type of experience. And what I was really fortunate to have with some friends from that industry invite me to help companies transition from medical to adult use in the Nevada space. And I remember actually flying back and forth between to be in the cannabis space just to be here for like six weeks at a time and then fly back and then come back and forth. And one of the key things like, I just remember driving one day in Vegas thinking, Oh, my God, like, this is like everything I could have ever wanted. And I’m very grateful. And it’s, it feels a little selfish to even say that, but it’s like, okay, well, if we’re talking about public health, and we’re talking about access, and we’re talking about cultural development, and you know, cannabis is a health product. And so I got, like, you know, like poker experience, my time in public health. And so every day, I’m really grateful to still be a part of this industry and in the community here is really strong. And I think that’s, you know, one thing that we do see as much as you have a lot of this entrenched institutional capital or what have you coming into the space, which, you know, does change the landscape, you do also have a very passionate community that can hopefully make that work together in the future. So amnesia media, as as I said, is a is an influencer marketing platform. So we’re actually building out the technology that is designed for the cannabis space. And the reason why that’s really important is that, you know, a lot of things that we take for granted such as like using things like Instagrams API, all those things are not accessible to the cannabis space. So we essentially have to build all this infrastructure that just we don’t have access to until regulations are going to be on a federal level. And so we’ve built this platform that ensures that both brands and influencers are going to be safe. From you know, whether that’s FDA regulations, FTC regulations, state cannabis regs, CBD regulations, what have you, and even platform Terms of Service. So we really focus on making sure that again, we can create educational content promotion, and help brands actually reach customers, and curate those experiences almost through the influencers for their communities, but making sure that everyone’s safe doing it. So one key thing that we do is we actually consult on the creative process as well. And that’s because one thing that we found is, again, compliance shouldn’t be an afterthought, it really has to be something that was thought about from the very beginning of a campaign, our compliance, a standalone engine soon, so that’s going to be something for anyone who is doing any sort of digital marketing, can actually run their content through our compliance engine to make sure that it’s going to be


Tess Yancey  12:44

safe. I think it’s great that, you know, I think cannabis has a really unique opportunity to create a safe space for women, especially within the marketing industry, because, I mean, obviously, we were all young girls, ones and teenagers, and we know that I feel like the marketing, regardless of what we buy is never really positive, and is really self detrimental. And, you know, self examining in a very negative way. So I feel, I’m really excited that like there are people like you and like higher yields that, you know, focus solely on creating a safe space that’s positive, and is like a self reflection that can be positive. So we’re focusing on marketing and branding firms with people of color, LGBTQ and other inclusive groups on their team. What do you think is the best way for companies to market themselves during this time, that’s not only mindful, honest, but also respectful? And


Courtney Woo  13:45

I feel like Karen’s going to have a really great answer for this. So I’m gonna give my what may be a little bit more anemic, it’s something that we’ve definitely thought about. And again, kind of referencing back to my time in public health, it’s always really important to be culturally sensitive, you have to understand that, you know, whatever perspective you may have is really informed by your life decisions, your life experiences, and also just your luck, you know, who your well who’s your family who you know, what communities you’re born into. And so it’s really recognizing the most important thing, which is right now, it’s not about you, as a company, it’s not about you as an individual, it’s about your community, and what is important to actually do for them and recognizing that their experiences may not be your own.


Kiran Wang  14:27

Oh, articulate. I love it. Yeah, I mean, to add on to that, you know, authenticity and transparency. I think those are two pretty simple things to follow. I mean, people can, can and will see through any inauthentic behaviors or gestures and, you know, don’t obviously don’t create content for appearances sake or you know, for quote, unquote, cloud, you know, whatever you want to call it. You know, you’re company has a chance every company has a chance to evolve right now. And I think, take it right, take that chance, and evolve, and do the work and do the research and make a plan of action and follow through.


Tess Yancey  15:19

Thanks, Karen, for a company with a little knowledge and experience in a diverse space. What do you guys think is the best way for them to diversify and improve their brand to match their culture mentality that really is inclusive?


Courtney Woo  15:32

I think again, it’s just going back to what I had said previously, and actually building on what Karen mentioned, as well, which is, ultimately again, it’s, it’s being authentic, it’s being really intentional. And and again, I think the first thing that anyone needs to do no matter, you know, what their experience has been, historically, is to really check what their own biases are going to be, right, because all of us have them. And there’s no way to pretend that we don’t, and to pretend that we don’t as ignoring the reality of what is what is truly happening in our society and culture today. So again, I think it goes back to, you know, really being empathetic, I think it’s about being intentional about who you hire. And look, ultimately, the more diverse your team is, the more insights, the more experiences, the more you can actually build an anti fragile product, the more you can build a product that really resonates with people. So as much as sometimes that can seem really broad. Ultimately, through all that broad experience, you’re actually honing in on one very key thing, which is the human condition, which is something that does unite us all. And so I think, again, it’s it’s really understanding that those stories don’t take away, they add, but they what they do ultimately do is drive towards, again, that idea that we are all people that we want to work together, but we do all have different experiences that are all valid and meaningful.


Kiran Wang  16:50

Yeah, absolutely, definitely on the hiring, not only hiring, you know, just any position, but like executives, right? HR people who are going to be helping frame the team as well. And then not just hiring them. But you know, I’ve been hired into spaces and have, obviously, people who know me, I’m very vocal, I’m not afraid to say what I feel and what I mean. And it’s not heard, you know, like, just because you have a seat at the table doesn’t mean that it’s taken seriously, or that it’s that your voice is heard. So making sure that when you bring them to your table, that you’re creating a safe place for them to be honest about their feedback, right? Be honest about why are they want to help support this company. Because ultimately, you know, when you’re supporting them, they’re supporting you. It’s symbiotic, right? Instead of like this fight every day to be who you are, but also assimilate enough or quote unquote, whatever you want to say, you know, however you want to survive as a person of color in this white dominant space.


Courtney Woo  18:04

And actually, I think going back to, again, what you’re saying hearing, which is like, super insightful, which is true, like, even if you do hire, it’s about creating those safe spaces for those voices to actually be heard. I think I had read somewhere that even in organizations that are more prone, again for that hiring, and thanks so much, Karen, for reminding me is that, essentially, you know, there are even teams where people who are underrepresented in a traditional sense in that environment actually have to support and repeat what one person may have said in a meeting, because they’re not heard often enough, right? So there are ways in which it’s not to say that that’s right. But that is actually happening. And so it’s important to, if someone sees that, for instance, in a meeting that, you know, someone who is underrepresented is saying something and not being heard, that, you know, allies, and also just anyone else in that community need to also help amplify that voice and support and lift it up so that it is heard eventually.


Kiran Wang  18:58

And also, you know, to piggyback off of that, don’t try to decide what people of color want. You know, like, don’t try to speak for people of color, let them speak for themselves.


Tess Yancey  19:11

Is there anything else you think companies can do to hold themselves accountable for inclusion? Like you both said, it’s crucial to have a safe space, but I know that it can be difficult at times to know what that looks like.


Courtney Woo  19:24

I think the first thing is asking questions, right? I mean, that’s always the first thing, right? And we do all have personal responsibilities, again, about where our biases are, but it’s, it’s asking questions. It’s, it’s asking, you know, rather than making any sort of assumptions, it’s really wanting to know, like, what is someone experiencing? And I think it’s, you know, rather than creating some sort of like decision fatigue and making it hard, it’s actually putting some institutional structures in place that encourage that type of question being right so it’s like, you know, there is going to be checking in with people on a on a daily basis. And as Karen again mentioned earlier, it’s making sure that those places are safe. And that assumptions aren’t being made. And people, I think one sad thing that, you know, I’ve seen, at least in marketing, especially with all the content that I have to consume for the work that I do is that, you know, you do see these kind of siloed places, especially within social media that are, let’s say, like, POCs, who travel POCs, who eat POCs who do that, but then, and, you know, there’s, I know, there’s a lot of, you know, cultural commentation, or commentary right now about why that’s the case. But if you also look, then at content that’s aggregated across the board, and let’s say you were just looking at general travel content, you’re not going to see those faces, you’re not going to see unless it’s kind of somewhat like lip service, or like, you know, we just have to throw someone in there to make it look as if our brand is going to be active. But again, you know, it’s, it’s asking the questions of like, what are you truly doing to move this forward? That includes representation internally and externally, like if your externals look a certain way, and your internals look different? That’s definitely performative. Right? So it’s, again, making sure that, you know, you’re intentional and that those things match up? Because if they don’t, there’s definitely something that doesn’t, it doesn’t pass the sniff test. So yeah, I think it’s important to take a look at both those things, and be really public and transparent. If I click on a team’s or about page and a website, and I see a very, a team that looks a very specific way, that’s going to indicate to me the difference between what they’re doing in a performative or in a public sense, versus what is actually happening on an internally.


Kiran Wang  21:38

performative stuff is very, very easy to identify. So, so easy, so please, back up your actions with actual work, right. And then also making sure you know, if you’re going to collaborate when we’re talking about external stuff, if you’re going to collaborate with, you know, black creators, or non black people of color, pay them. I mean, when you collaborate with anyone, pay them, right, don’t just continue to try to, you know, exposure, like no, we can figure out how to get that on our own. Pay people. That’s so so important. Um, you know, if you’re going to be learning from someone, if you’re going to be, you know, if they’re going to be dedicating time, pay them for that. And then in the specifically, regarding the cannabis industry, the accountability list is a really great resource. It was created by Ken occlusive, and a few other collaborators, and they have put so many hours into creating the list, verifying it, doing the research, you know, all that stuff. And really, they’re not doing any, you know, they’re not exposing any information that’s not publicly available on these people’s websites, right. So, you know, if there have been some companies that have reached out to them saying, like, hey, this isn’t accurate, this isn’t what we’re actually doing. It’s like, well, here’s what it says on your website, if you would like to actually take those actions, and then update your website, let us know, you know, talks internally, don’t really mean anything, until they’re realized. I hope that is understood industry wide and other industries as well.


Courtney Woo  23:38

And I think even on one, like simple friend is like, Don’t appropriate. That’s, and that is, you know, actually going back to the cannabis industry, that’s a, that’s a pretty big problem in our space. And I think that, in some ways, you know, there’s a really fine line between, like, you know, paying a lot to, you know, people or a culture or a community that has built up and has historical roots in cannabis, and has done a lot. But, you know, to at this point, especially at this point in time, I don’t think it was ever excusable, but especially right now, it’s important to understand that, you know, if you’re taking those things, are you giving back to those communities? Like, you know, are you like, so if you’re gonna borrow the name of something, you know, or use a different language or what have you, but you’re gonna turn around and also not include people from that culture in your company, and you’re not actually having conversations with those people. I mean, there’s just a lot of things that are not appropriate there. And so it’s, again, just making sure that, you know, ultimately to consumers have an ability and I think, again, to Karen’s point, and also the the list that she’s created, it’s important that people are referencing that because you are voting with your money and to actually see that and to see like, if you, you know, if you see something that doesn’t look familiar, it’s like, okay, well, let me just take a look and I’ve definitely done this on the on the back end here through some text messages with Friends where we’ll find a company, a cannabis company, it hasn’t been like, let’s look at their board. Let’s look at their team like, oh, well, that doesn’t look like it works or matches. So again, I think it’s those lists are important and vote and consumers voting with their money is important.


Kiran Wang  25:15

Yeah, so the list that Courtney just referred to is inclusive bass. I’m assuming that’s what you’re talking about inclusive bass, which is the directory of cannabis businesses that are owned and cannabis related businesses like hemp and tech, tech related and ancillary, that kind of stuff. Owned by people of color. So that includes, you know, black, indigenous and people of color. And, you know, all the intersections, right, LGBTQ plus veteran owned woman owned, formerly incarcerated, you know, all of that. And then the accountability, okay. Why can’t I say this word? Oh, my goodness, the accountability list, which is separate from inclusive base, just, you know, a directory of all sorts of cannabis businesses, and what they’re actually doing right now in terms of, are they contributing, you know, their proceeds? Are they, you know, supporting certain organizations? What are they doing to actually, you know, take action. So that’s kind of to help people clarify, those are the two lists. How do you believe a


Tess Yancey  26:24

brand can lead with empathy, awareness and the intention to create positive change in the cannabis market, when really, it seems like others in the industry might not be as excited to be trailblazers,


Courtney Woo  26:36

I think it’s about again, sharing your community. And again, I know I keep using that C word. But it’s really important. And it’s really at the core of what we want to do at amnesia as well as, again, build culture, build community, and it’s, it’s letting your community speak for you, right, if you have a good relationship with your community, they’re going to promote you, because they have a good relationship with you. And so again, it’s letting your community almost tell your story. And also listen to what your community has to say back to you about your story about what you want to do. And there’s a lot of great companies, you know, in and outside of the cannabis space that really make it a point, you know, whether that’s being intentional about who their partnerships are, with who their clients are with, you know, who they’re representing, internally and externally, it’s again, making sure that all of those things are aligned with one another, and that your community feels comfortable to share their stories back with you.


Kiran Wang  27:30

Yeah, I mean, never apologize for using that word, that word is so community is so so important. And I have worked with too many brands that don’t understand that community is more valuable than any thing you want to ROI measure, you know, when you when it comes to, like users or, you know, purchases or orders, you know, whatever it is, your community is true ROI. They are the people that are going to champion you, they’re the people that are going to tell strangers about you, right, like, that’s the goal. So with that, you know, understanding that your reputation or your aesthetic should never prevent you from being vocal or being active. And it honestly should not be driving your business decisions. You know, don’t worry about what other people are doing or worry about what you’re doing. Right, like lead with that awareness, lead with that intention. And remember, sometimes your attentions might not align with your impact. So make sure that you’re listening, if someone tells you like, Hey, your impact is actually not that great. Even though your intention was great, which is thank you, we appreciate that. But ultimately, your impact is what’s important. So, you know, remembering that and also remembering, you know, we had a great conversation on sessions a few weeks back with Casia of Ken occlusive. And she was saying, Look, don’t be a white savior. You know, remember to, you know, evaluate, did someone asked me to do this? And if the answer is no, then you’re probably being a white savior. So make sure to ask that question. That’s very, very important as


Tess Yancey  29:23

well. Can you give us your opinion on what you think has been a genuine positive change for inclusion on social media?


Courtney Woo  29:33

I think people are actually being really intentional, at least we’ve seen especially within the influencer campaign space, people are being intentional about making sure that those stories, not just those faces are being shared. And I think that’s a key distinction to be made here is that, again, it’s asking people are starting to actually ask questions, which I think as as a woman of color, like I think that’s been always the struggle for me is that there are a lot of assumptions made. There are a lot of things As Karen had just said about people, you know, with Savior complexes, it’s like, you know, ultimately, at the end of the day, you know, people aren’t looking for handouts, they’re not looking to be saved, they want their communities to be sustainable, stable, and healthy and, and have roads and pathways to success that are defined by themselves. And so I think, again, you know, just the fact that people there, we haven’t seen, I think such an outpouring of actual ally ship in, you know, I don’t think effort, potentially. Right. And I think that’s a key thing. And that ally ship, you know, I’m not going to pretend I haven’t lost friends through what’s been going on lately. Because, you know, people that I thought were allies, you know, we’ve gotten into some certain conversations that then, you know, indicate to me that, again, there, it’s not really there. But, you know, it’s, it’s understanding that ally ship looks very different. And, you know, again, asking questions, is really always going to be the first place, but also being sensitive to how those questions impact the person you’re asking. And, you know, if, you know, asking if that person has space to have that conversation with you, and or can refer or recommend something else. And so I think that’s been one of the really nice things is that we’re seeing mobilization, calls to action, significant donations, we’re seeing people actually take action on these things, and really show up to be true allies. And again, some of those conversations, as hard as they are, as much as I’ve lost friends, because of it, I’m glad that they now are out there, I’m glad that they exist. And this is happening at a broad scale, you know, interpersonally, but also, again, on social media on, you know, network television, everywhere, these conversations are taking place.


Kiran Wang  31:43

Yeah, and I also think it’s important to keep that momentum up, you know, if you’re going to keep amplifying black owned businesses, if you’re going to buy from black owned businesses, continue to do it, don’t just do it. Because, you know, in June, there was a public outcry about, you know, black men and women being murdered, that is going to continue to happen unless action is taken, unless the momentum continues unless, you know, we continue to do the work as a community, remember, you know, Ally ship is not something you get to a point on yourself a, or something that is an identity, it’s a practice, right. So making sure that, you know, that is continued and all that work. It’s a commitment, it’s lifelong work. So continue it. And live lifelong is


Courtney Woo  32:37

right here. And because I’ll I mean, I don’t want to sound like a pessimist here. But genuinely, I don’t think, you know, these, I think what’s been really nice is that there are what it does look to be that there’s going to be some significant change. But you know, I’ve pretty much grown up thinking that like, these are things that I’ll just have to deal with my whole life. And I and I still maintain that I don’t think that’s going to change, I think the way it looks will change. But you know, it’s recognizing, and I think it’s also saving space for again, people are going to feel fatigue, people are going to feel like this is a long game, right? And so, you know, don’t feel that you have to ask those all those questions up front, don’t feel that those things all have like, as if there’s going to be a resolution at the end of it. And I think if people, you know, there has to be incremental resolution. And like, again, incremental, even I think everything that’s happening out to me that’s still incremental, right? Like a huge change would be like complete overhaul of our institutional structures and all that sort of stuff. But, you know, whereas this is, like, let’s say medium size, like, it’s, it’s going to be our whole lives, and it is going to be your friends whole lives, and it’s going to be something that they’re just going it’s an experience that is going to be forever, and at least in our lifetime right now. But that also means, you know, it doesn’t mean people should give up. But it also means people shouldn’t get disheartened if they’re not seeing that change that they want to see immediately.


Kiran Wang  34:00

Yeah, we do it so we don’t go reverting back. We do it. So we continue to move forward. Even if it’s frustratingly slow and incremental.


Tess Yancey  34:12

I think that’s been one of the hardest things for me. It’s like even though I’m a white passing person of color, and I’m understanding, you know, always understood my privilege, just because my parents were so you know, we’re very thought it was really important for me to learn the history, like black history and black history in America. It’s hard when I feel like we’re more connected than we’ve ever been before, via social media. And you know, I’m not seeing the really negative trolls and these bloggers or anything like that. That’s not content. I follow up but I know it’s out there. And you know, it is it is a positive experience to see people speaking out and becoming out All eyes, but it’s also really hard when, you know, it’s like, wow, like, this is my fight too now, and it always kind of was, but now it really is, and especially looking at some of the influencers, or photographers that I work with are followed and realizing like, wow, actually, their content is really insensitive. I’m thinking one person in particular, but um, you know, it’s, it’s negative, and it’s very difficult for me to feel like the changes again, like happening quickly, because there are just a few people that, you know, it’s, it’s for their own personal benefit. And it’s at sometimes it can be hard to differentiate between the two. But I think eventually, you know, all that will come to light, and like the positive conversations that come from it are the most important part, even if they’re, like, really hard straining to like, finally be understood. And, yeah, I think social media is a great base for that. But it’s definitely a long haul for sure.


Kiran Wang  36:07

Yeah, and I think the government proved in Portland at least, that it’s not just immigrants that they’re willing to, like, take action against. It’s not just, you know, people of color. It’s like anyone, we are willing to do this, too. So like it is everyone’s fight. For sure. It’s, and I’ve had


Courtney Woo  36:28

this conversation, actually, with my Caucasian or white friends of like, why there has been this inability to recognize like when there are facts, staring people in the face when they’re seeing the things that are happening. And I think it’s an easier way out, right to just pretend that it doesn’t exist, because then you have no responsibility to be different. And to acknowledge it exists means that, as you had mentioned earlier, tests like that means that’s a lifelong journey now, right. And some people don’t want to do that. And I think that’s, it’s a shame and also keep, like, what you’re saying about marketing, we can’t forget, I mean, ultimately, marketing, branding, technology, all of these things are somewhat inherently neutral, depending on how they’re built and what have you. But at the same time, like, you know, they are important things like public health requires marketing to get people to potentially change behavior. But ultimately, that’s what marketing is, it’s about trying to get someone to behave in a specific way. And one thing that we really can’t ignore, and I am starting to see it a little bit in this in our space and cannabis, but it is fraught, and it’s rampant, pretty much outside of cannabis is targeting of minority communities, right. And if with marketing, and that’s a big thing, right, you see things like the fast food industry, targeting minority communities, creating food deserts, all these other things that, again, the marketing part of it is very real, because, again, it’s a neutral thing in its own right. But ultimately, if you have, you know, corporations targeting minority groups that continue to keep them impoverished when I was working through a Community Action Group, during my time as a health educator, that was one of the conversations we were having with one of the sociologists on the team was like, if you look at minority communities, like the Latin X community, or the Asian American community, all these other communities, there’s a lot of encouragement of spending money within their own community, supporting their own businesses within their communities. But if you look at the black American experience, they’re targeted heavily by corporations. And so you see this outpouring of their resources, not staying within their communities. And that’s a that’s a really important thing to remember is that, you know, marketing, think about who is your target demographic, and again, if your target demographic doesn’t look like you whatsoever, you know, ask yourself, you know, what are you doing? Are you hurting this community, potentially, creating negative health outcomes, creating, you know, all these things for the sake of a buck and essentially disenfranchising and creating instability and a whole, you know, when I was in health education, a whole city, a whole town that was bankrupt, didn’t have money. And it was just, it was a really terrible thing to see when, you know, kids were saying that, like, their goal in life was to work in an oil refinery.


Tess Yancey  39:06

And it’s been amazing to, I don’t know if we’ll edit this out, but I mean, it’s an amazing to, like, watch your guys’s content and like, constantly going through your stories, because I feel like, I learned so much from you both. And I just think the, you know, not only do I learn about other people’s experiences, which is the most important part, like learning about their stories and becoming empathetic, but also like, the accessibility of the story, as well as the resources for me to kind of go after and like, you know, turn inward and think about those things. That kind of goes to my last question, is there any other places other than like canned occlusive and things like that I’ve sent those to my team as well. But are there any other places that you guys think we should look for all online resources we are, we’re starting to build a social equity page on the higher yields website. And we already did a podcast with all of the BI POC like LGBTQ people on our team. So we’re gonna have some content up there, but we want to have as many resources as possible. And I have a few like, you know, a purely book resources, and then I have the two other ones. But if you guys have any other suggestions, that would be great.


Courtney Woo  40:36

Outside of the lists that Ken occlusive has done with Karen, as well, as well as the accountability list, I think one really key one is the original equity group that’s based here in the Bay area that’s led by Nina parks, they do a really fantastic job of creating resources. Again, no one, you know, they’re really trying to create a sustainable economy where people have access to something that essentially they’ve been criminalized for historically, and to participate and be successful in the cannabis industry. And, you know, I think that’s a great resource, whether that’s someone who wants to get a license, at least within California, but it’s a fantastic resource in terms of what they’re trying to do to get people plugged into what they need to have. And so I think they’re doing a lot of great work over there. And they’re working very closely, both with the private sector and the public sector,


Kiran Wang  41:24

definitely a great resource. I’m also the Florida coalition. So broccoli mag, in partnership with the inaugural board, which includes Cassia gram of kin occlusive, my Ushaw, as well as men lay, it’s a coalition where businesses can pledge a certain amount, so it starts at $50. And I think it goes up to 200 a month, if you want to donate more, and you know, you can be consistent, you can definitely do that. But you know, 50 is the minimum requirement for a commitment, and it’s six months, so $50, over six months, and then the that inaugural board is the one that chooses the organization that this money is going to be contributed to the organizations that this money is going to be contributed to, and then in the following year, a new board will be selected. So that is a really, you know, sort of, I think they took the model from the giving circle, where they use that to kind of, you know, let’s, as a collective, you know, work together to do our part, even if, you know, as a small business, you’re like, I don’t think I can make a big enough contribution just on my own. It’s like, well, let’s do it together. Um, and then also national expungement week, that is, I believe, coming up in September. And with that, you know, making sure that, yeah, let’s start getting, you know, people out of prison and getting their records, you know, straight so that we can get them, you know, trained and reentered back into society and give them opportunities to be able to, you know, undo the damage that the war on drugs did. And then the name of the organization that I had mentioned prior is the Florida Coalition, which is broccoli Max. Collaboration. Yeah. Um, and then let me think, equity sessions as well. They do a lot of work in terms of, you know, really thinking about, I mean, look, there has not been an equity program, that’s like, amazing, right? Like, I don’t think there’s a single one that anyone can point to. So we’re definitely still striving for that. But let’s continue to, you know, do the work, do the research, figure out what what we can do. And then of course, you know, navigate the red tape so that it can happen.


Courtney Woo  44:00

And that anything again, that’s the same thing, like I hear a lot of people, detracting from the equity groups or saying like, Oh, well, the programs haven’t gone well. So we should just get rid of them altogether. And it’s like, again, we should never perfection is just not real. And there are real life circumstances. And to kind of have this like broad sweeping, like, you know, just doesn’t work. So let’s get rid of it is not a solution. At all. It’s let’s look at it. Let’s look at the fact that equity programs have been rolled out in numerous places now across the US, and all of them are structured a little bit differently, and what can we borrow from each one that is also again, going to be relevant to that population? So I think that’s a key thing, too, is that you know, from a state by state basis, as much as there are unifying experiences, some of those things have to be culturally sensitive to where they are. And actually just hanging on to that to Karen is the last prisoner project, right. And they’re doing such great work again, to really highlight mass incarceration, modern slavery, and essentially it almost being built on the back of these mind. or drug offenses for cannabis possession.


Kiran Wang  45:02

So thank you for sharing your perspective for sure in your experience, I, you know, of course, want to make sure that those stories are amplified, like, even, you know, especially when you talk about, I recognize my privilege, you know, they’re here. And with that, I know for 21 projects, is a, I don’t know what to call it, it’s like, a project is what you could call it, um, what they do is they photograph and tell the stories of or not tell, but help amplify and give a platform to the stories that, you know, people of color, and, you know, it’s mostly people of color, that are talking about, you know, I was arrested when I was 16 years old, you know, and I was thrown into juvie, and then prison, and so on, and so forth, or, you know, someone who’s like, I’m a mother and I was arrested, you know, because of Child Protective Services, or, you know, whatever it is. So all sorts of, you know, really different experiences, but obviously, with one very common thread. And, to go back to your point about, you know, the people who are making these equity, or designing these equity programs, not even that they’re, you know, not representative of the communities that are supposed to be, you know, given these these equity resources and opportunities, it’s, they don’t even understand cannabis. Right, like, they don’t even a lot of them don’t even know anything about the plant. And that in and of itself is dangerous, for sure. And I think that’s, you know,


Courtney Woo  46:46

and I still just kind of carry on with both, both of you guys have said is again, same thing, Keith, like, appreciate you sharing that vulnerability again. And, and I think those stories are actually important to be told, you know, and I know that there’s some debate about that as well. But you know, we are going to try and build ally ship that includes representation, too, right. So, you know, having people like yourself, like tests and, and people within your organization, you know, stand up and say that, you know, yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, it’s not, it doesn’t feel nice. Yeah, I have to kind of revisit, you know, a lot of different things, again, even as POCs, we have to do that, too. Right? It’s fraught with all these things of like thinking about, you know, at what point, am I internalizing some of these things, and then behaving in that way of what’s put on me? And then am I now acting as a stereotype? Like, there’s all these other questions. And also, all these things, also assume the default is white. Right. And that’s, and that’s, I think, a very dangerous place to be in. And I think it’s, it’s important to recognize, again, that validity of everyone’s narrative, including allyship narratives, right. And again, when we talk about these equity programs, and who’s building it, it’s about, you know, it’s really important for people to be and again, this is another great thing happening right now is how civically minded everybody is, you know, I’ve heard so much of my life, especially as you know, a Chinese American that on one side of my family, they’re incredibly politically active. And on the other side, they’re not. And on the other side, it represented a lot more stories that I was hearing in my community of like, why bother, you know, I don’t need to vote, I don’t need to do these things, you know, the system is oppressive is always going to be oppressive. So what is there to do about it now, and even again, as a Chinese American, my experiences have more privileged than some others. And it’s, and it’s also recognizing that so I think it’s recognizing that even as people of color, we also are still dealing with, where we’re comfortable, where these things, how they impact our behavior, where we don’t want that anymore. And you know, what, and again, it’s, it’s this is not like a race to the bottom, everyone has different experiences. Again, they’re all valid, but, you know, we are all experiencing this differently. It’s not this like, just like this monolith and like one version of the story, right? So it’s just important to remember that we’re all struggling with this


Kiran Wang  49:09

very cathartic conversation. Like it.


Courtney Woo  49:13

I know, right? Like, are we not recording anymore? Can we just talk about it? Like?


Tess Yancey  49:18

Yeah. Wow, thank you so much, Karen and Courtney, for coming to speak with us here at higher yields consulting and thank you again to our listeners for supporting the higher enlightenment podcast and keep a lookout for our next episode. Thanks, guys. Have a good night.


Adam Kulbach  49:37

Thanks for listening, everybody. For more information about the higher enlightenment podcasts, or if you have show ideas or would like to be a guest on our podcasts, check out the description below. For information about sponsorship or advertising on the higher enlightenment podcast, please call us at 844 High yield That’s 844 Ah i y i E L D s or visit our website at higher yields consulting.com. Thanks. Have a great day, and we’ll talk to you soon