Women of color leaders are guarding a dirty little secret — our work is eroding our mental, physical and emotional health. We are slowly wrecking ourselves as we try to transform political organizations, foundations, media rooms, nonprofits, the publishing industry.Sayu Bhojwani- Let’s Get Real About Why Women of Color Are So Tired
I recently read this really interesting article about the real effects of WOC burnout within a myriad of industries, called ‘Lets Get Real About Why Women of Color Are so Tired’. The author Sayu Bhojwani speaks about her own experience with in the nonprofit world and the evidence of competition, scarcity and culture of celebrity that is created within progressive spaces, like non profits. I worked within that arena for almost 15 years so I had seen my fair share of overworked, underpaid and overwhelmed employees, me being one of them, I connect with this article on a deep level. As black people we undervalue our worth and because of our innate skills of working from a place of scarcity (balling on a budget, hustling and grinding and making a way out of no way) we are heralded within those spaces for our ingenuity, innovation and tolerance to withstand large amounts of pressure with little to no resources. Sayu goes on to say, “With rare exceptions like Ayanna Pressley’s revelation of alopecia, we’re not talking about our deep exhaustion publicly for many reasons, including our own shame and sense of failure. It’s time for us to confront the core reasons for our suffering — the scarcity mentality and culture of celebrity and competition that underpins even the most progressive spaces.” I think it is time to think of things differently, especially within the cannabis arena.
Cannabis is of course the newest, latest and greatest progressive gathering ground with the upcoming elections and people drawing their personal lines in the sand. With the most controversial news surrounding cannabis legalization and continued progress of medical marijuana states it is and has created the culture of scarcity, celebrity and competition. The industry is very much about WHO you know and what alliances you have created while in the space. Being able to be attached to “brand” or a “well-known” name and the lack of entry into the industry being granted to only to a select few scarcity and competition are the order of the day within cannabis right now. States like California and Colorado as the benchmark with more and more money, celebrity and the illegal status of the plant in many states, it is creating the same exact vibe that Saju described in other progressive circles. So how can we completely subverse the potentially hazardous situations that can come up with the burgeoning cannabis industry? She offers 2 points that I believe can be applied to the situation:
- One is stepping off the treadmill not engaging in celebrity culture or attending events that is is more about marginalizing and excluding those that are doing the most work without acknowledging how it is affecting our mental and emotional well being and
- and two is holding spaces for real solidarity such as spending time with other women leaders in the space. Its focus is to be a place of accountability for the value of your time and yourself and having a place to “gut check” about decisions you make as a leader within the industry.
I believe in having the safe spaces to speak about the exhaustion, re-evaluate and create the solidarity and also the accountability to know our worth and to stop the constant grind that is created from scarcity and competition. Collaboration is the key to being able to make real tangible change and have the spaces to avoid the pitfalls of other industries. We could be the standard bearers with which other industries can be envious of. While the cannabis industry is continuing to grow at a rate unseen in most industries we need to be aware of current and past parallels from those other industries to ours so we can be cognizant of the pitfalls that might lay ahead to avoid them as cannabis continues to progress within our state and also the nation.
This plant is meant for the support of better overall well being not only in industry but within our personal lives. And to not only witness the growth but to be able to navigate and use it to decrease stress, re-center who we are and to take time to relax from the constant grind would not only be the best outcome for us as black women but for the overall community. How do you find time to re-center? Do you use cannabis in that way? What are some ways that we can advocate in our own communities to create safe spaces to be heard and acknowledged?