I proudly celebrate Juneteenth, a highly-emotional moment in U.S. history when the last enslaved Black Americans learned that they were free. And if you smoke weed, then you should celebrate too. In addition to marking an end to one of our nation’s ugliest chapters, Juneteenth also symbolizes that Black Americans can survive the trauma of our past and thrive.
And you know what plays a big role in charting a much-needed path to equality?
You guessed it, cannabis.
For more than two centuries, America has skirted one of the most important questions facing our nation: What is owed to the descendants of slaves? The debt is real: Generations of White Americans built tremendous wealth through slavery while U.S. laws and policies systematically fought and dismantled Black prosperity.
It didn’t have to be this way. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Black wealth boomed as emancipated slaves created towns and communities separate from their white neighbors. As a result of their resilience and ingenuity, the turn of the 20th Century saw the highest intergenerational and collective wealth for Black people in American history. But it didn’t last long. From Tulsa, to Colfax, Willmington, Atlanta, and Rosewood, racists literally massacred whole communities for achieving wealth independent from White Americans.
Until recently, America often ignored the truth of these events. Clouded by lies and stereotypes, history ignored Black Americans’ proven and documented success as entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Enter weed. With legalization, Black Americans have the opportunity to build a new industry and create intergenerational wealth. As an advisor to Eaze’s board, I’m watching this opportunity emerge in real time. I often say that Black people might have missed alcohol prohibition, but we’re not going to miss the cannabis boom. From NFL Hall of Famer Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and his business partner Rob Simms building Michigan’s largest Black-owned cannabis company; to LA-based entrepreneurs Whitney Beaty, Kika Keith, and Timeka Drew redefining Black female leadership in retail; to Darius Kemp, who’s making sure Eaze’s supply chain elevates equity licensees, Black people are already leading in force.
But that doesn’t mean the past is healed or the work is done. While cannabis is an opportunity to earn new wealth, like any endeavor undertaken by Black Americans, we face enormous barriers. If we want a place at the head of this table, it means staying loud. We must engage with elected officials, build partnerships that deliver for Black people, and call out racism wherever we see it. This Juneteenth, let’s focus on building more communities like Tulsa across the country and make our ancestors proud.