Posted with consent from fellow Budsista & Loud Mouth Brown Girl brand owner Devon J. Hall
I am angry. And I am fucking bitter. I am thirty-seven years old, I live at home with my mother, and three fucking cats, (adorable amazing little comfort animals but still, CATS) CATS MOTHERFUCKER! I AM THE CAT LADY. Mind you, I don’t put my cats in costumes and take pictures of them for the world to see, so I’m not that cat lady, but in today’s society of show and tell everything, that’s actually pretty cool because doing that makes people around the world smile. No, I live with three cats who eat, shit, sleep, and occasionally deign to notice that I exist long enough to spend time with me.
Last year at the beginning of the announcement of the pandemic, I figured that I was going to be okay. I had spent the entire previous year alone, spending time getting to know myself and taking myself on day dates to Vancouver. I explored the city, I walked for hours, I lost a ton of weight, I danced, I sang, I rapped, (in private), but I was genuinely happy just being alone with myself.
Then the pandemic hit and I figured it would be more of the same until I realized/learned that a pandemic meant that we’d all have to stay inside and everything around the world was shutting down. I still figured I’d be okay until I realized that the loneliness was starting to get to me, so I started Comfortably Uncomfortable Conversations.
It was a selfish act because I wanted to talk to other humans, face to face as much as possible, I needed to connect to other people who were experiencing anxiety, depression, PTSD, due to trauma and abuse. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone. The podcast wasn’t about helping people, it was entirely about me saying to the world “we’re here, and we’re fucking miserable, but we’re dealing with it.”
I didn’t know when I started talking about Cannabis, that I would be introduced in short order to a group called the Afro Cannada Budsista’s. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to join the group at first, and if I am being 100% honest I figured if I did join then at least I could promote what I was doing to other girls who looked like and smoked weed. Joining was a selfish act.
Several years ago I was on a walk at night up near where I live now. I didn’t live here back then, but not far away, and I used to come to this place near where I live, to scream, yell, shout, to release the pain and sorrow that I was feeling into the void of the universe so that I didn’t feel so alone anymore. I remember saying out loud that all I wanted was to find my sisters. At the time I thought what I wanted was to join a coven, I was very much (still am) into the craft, and I believed that if I could just find “my” sisterhood, everything would be okay.
That was seven and a half years ago, that’s how long it took for me to find the ACBS, that’s how long it took for Natalie Cox and Khadisha Thornhill to find each other again so that they could have a conversation about cannabis so that they could decide together to start a brand new kind of sisterhood.
It wasn’t just about cannabis, it was about Black women smoking cannabis, and that’s an important distinction. Our Blackness whatever the percentage, bonds us together because it’s a symbol of the experiences that so many of us share. Speaking only for myself, I have been kidnapped, gang-raped, drugged, beaten, raped, tortured. There are women around the world who understand what these situations feel like, there are women around the world who understand what it feels like to be powerless.
There are women – who look like me – who understand what these situations can do to a human mind, because of the color of their skin, because if their skin color were anything other than Black or Brown, they wouldn’t have been treated the way that they were treated.
Yesterday a picture was posted of Chad Wheeler’s girlfriend, in the caption of the photo detailing some of the trauma this young woman faced. “Oh, you’re still alive,” he allegedly said to her when he realized she was still breathing. I don’t know how true that is, because I wasn’t there, but I don’t doubt for a second that it might be true, because I’ve been in similar situations where I thought I was going to die, where the intent was for me to die. Because of the color of my skin.
When I first joined ACBS, every single time we had a zoom chat together, I would be seen wearing my hoodie – even in the summer when I first joined the group. No matter how many times people asked to see my curls, I kept my hoodie up, because even in my own home, being on camera with total strangers made me feel completely vulnerable. My hoodie was my armor against the idea that even though a computer these women might hurt me.
As the weeks went on, the hoodie sometimes came off altogether, and my curls were set free, because the more that I chatted with these women, the more that I found myself connecting and bonding with them, the safer I began to feel.
Yesterday I was in my shower, sitting on my mom’s shower bench, and without knowing I needed to, I released a guttural scream, before looking up the ceiling and asking “why do you hate me?“
At that moment I honestly just felt all my bitterness, all my anger, all the trauma rise up and I just felt completely defeated. The podcast has been great, and it’s introduced me to so many wonderful people, but for weeks now I’ve just been feeling alone, and miserable. I’ve been letting the demons win because even if I am not cutting or hurting myself physically, the emotional pain is doing the trick that physical pain used to do.
Finding my tribe wasn’t just about finding people who look like and smoke cannabis, it’s the universe’s way of telling me that it doesn’t actually hate me. It’s “God’s” way of saying “yeah, no hate is not a word I use,” I know this because as much as I’ve been through, I have to give credit for the good things to someone, or something. We get what we ask for in this world, and sometimes it takes years or centuries, but eventually, everything we put on the list happens.
When I was in Winnipeg for that college radio conference that I went to, I was sitting on a grassy knoll with a group of total strangers, and we were talking about what kinds of shows we had on the radio, or wanted on the radio. “Comfortably Uncomfortable Conversations,” was the title of the show I thought I wanted to do, but I had no idea what it was going to look like. I was certain that everything that I was doing was leading me to a future career in radio.
When I was in grade school they handed out a list of jobs and how much money they make per year, I was about eight years old when I realized that $80,000 a year was a pretty good deal for talking on the radio for an hour. I thought that might be something I’d like to do, but I didn’t really think about what that meant, or what would happen twenty-five or so years later. It was just a passing thought.
I was on the radio, and I sucked at it, but I did end up starting Comfortably Uncomfortable Conversations, and I’m pretty damned good at it, and starting that show led me to a group of women who look like me, and understand that having Black or Brown skin means that life is just going to be harder for you then it is for other people.
Each of the more than five hundred of us around the world, are out there in the world doing our own thing, slowly shifting the world so that it can become the place that each of us envisions the world to be. Each of us is doing our own thing but speaking about each other with everything that we do. When one of us does an interview or a podcast, you can be absolutely certain at some point our sisterhood is going to be mentioned.
Already in the group, we have daughters, sisters, cousins, mothers, and each of us have vowed to pass the legacy of our group on to our own daughters if that’s what they want, together we are building something that is helping people to remember there are reasons to stay alive.
This is what it means to find your tribe, to find the people whose souls resonate with your soul on the same wavelength, this is what it means to find people who accept you as you are, and see yourself as you could be. This is what it means not to be alone in the world anymore.
And the only reason that any of this happened, is that because no matter how miserable we felt in our past, no matter how afraid, no matter how alone we were, we knew that in the back of our minds, we were fighting for something bigger than ourselves. Our sisterhood is bigger than ourselves. Our sisterhood is our connection to the universe, to that powerful, elemental, soul defining wild majick that is tied up somewhere in the center of the universe.
You are not alone in the world, you are not broken. You are not an empty void filled with nothing to offer the world, you just have to get past the darkness, and I know how hard that is. I know how scary it is to know that someone is trying to kill you, thinking that there is no one in the world who cares about whether or not you live or die.
I have been there, and now I am here, with an amazing cannabis company wanting to collaborate with me, women around the world who want to support me, and friends who tell me that I am their anchor. Are you kidding me? No, God doesn’t hate me, I just have to keep my eyes on the light, instead of letting them drift to the darkness.
I do that all the time, especially when I am happy because I have gotten comfortable in the darkness, I am used to it, I know how to handle the darkness, it’s the light that scares me. It’s so warm and comforting and ironically that’s uncomfortable because I am not used to it. But I am going to teach myself to learn to get comfortable in the light, because that’s what my sistas would do, and if they’re doing it…I want to join them.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall
Some of my Budsista’s though not Afro, are absolutely amazingly powerful white women too, and I am just as grateful for them, as I am for my ACBSistas. I love you, women, all of you, regardless of what your skin color is, you push me, you challenge me, you inspire me, you lift me up, you love me. Thank you for that.
Devon J Hall
Loud Mouth Brown Girl
I respectfully acknowledge that I am blessed by the land on which we gather, live and connect, is the traditional and unceded territory of Coast Salish Peoples, specifically the Kwantlen, Katzie, Semiahmoo, and Tsawwassen First Nations.