Inspired by Sean “Diddy” Combs’ successful “State Of Emergency: The State of Black America & Coronavirus” town hall, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” is a platform that is designed to report news from the perspective of Black people for Black people.
Last night’s episode of “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” titled “Beyond Blowing Smoke” touched on the different avenues of cannabis from its impact on sexual health and wellness to monetization and business ventures. Host and executive producer Eboni K. Williams was joined by chef Andrea Drummer, Gia Peppers, Selena Hill, Angela Yee, Michele Harrington, Al Harrington and Shanita Penny.
“Our rightful place in the cannabis industry goes far beyond the unjust crack epidemic that overly incarcerated our people. This actually goes back to slavery,” Williams said in her opening remarks. “What we don’t see is that it was actually the southern slaves who labored over the cultivation of the cannabis sativa plant known as hemp.”
Penny and Al Harrington were up first to discuss the importance of creating space for Black people in the cannabis industry. “If you aren’t at the table - and I mean early on - helping to create the legislation that will drive what the industry looks like, you don’t stand a chance of participating in it in any other way except a consumer,” said the Budding Solutions founder before Al chimed in to inform us that Black people represent less than 4 percent of the industry.
“You got liquor, sugar, cotton, all these different industries that we were right there pioneering. But, right now, we have no ownership in any of those industries. With cannabis, we’re trying to make sure that doesn’t happen this time around,” he said. As the owner of Viola, Al prioritizes reinvesting in his community and creating opportunities for minority ownership. “We just try to use Viola as much as a springboard to...educate and uplift. The main goal behind everything that we do is all economic empowerment. It can be a form of reparations and I know for sure it can rebuild our community.”
Evelyn LaChapelle, reentry coordinator for Last Prisoner Project, popped into “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” to share a few words on the criminalization of cannabis and how it specifically impacts the Black community. She revealed that she spent 87 months in prison as a first-time nonviolent offender as the result of depositing cannabis profits into her bank account in 2013. “We’ve been the victim of mass incarceration behind the war on drugs and we’re still fighting for our freedom decades later,” she said as she shared shocking statistics about Blacks in prison for marijuana-related charges. “We are doing the work, we are on the ground running and we are making the way for those coming behind us,” LaChapelle added.
For last night’s “Headlines,” Hill gave the rundown of current news starting with Tiger Woods’ single-car accident in Los Angeles from which he suffered a broken leg and major fractures. Other topics included the seven Rochester officers involved in the killing of Daniel Prude not being charged, New York Senate passing a bill to restore the right to vote for those on parole, Johnson & Johnson’s single dose vaccine being announced by the FDA as 66 percent effective and safe, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield being sworn in as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Following Hill’s news announcements and Dr. Lynn Richardson’s tips for small Black-owned businesses getting access to PPP loans, Williams was joined by Drummer, who owns the country’s first restaurant to legally sell weed for onsite consumption. She considers herself a chef first and a cannabis enthusiast second. Drummer’s career in cannabis was inspired by her experience as a patient experiencing aches after graduating from culinary school. She would decide to experiment with alternative medicating. “It just kind of made sense and understanding the efficacy of cannabis by way of eating. It made sense to combine my new career and this new thing, this new product: cannabis,” the chef explained.
After whipping up the dinner module of her cannabis-infused seafood etouffee from her West Hollywood location, Peppers and Donjuan Clark appeared for this week’s “Black Excellence in Entertainment.” The two entertainment personalities dove into topics around Lena Waithe’s new “Birth of Cool” series ordered by BET+, the premiere of Lee Daniels’ “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” on Hulu, D’Angelo’s highly anticipated Verzuz battle with anonymous participants at the Apollo Theatre, and the announcement of Netflix’s newest documentary Biggie: I Got A Story To Tell, which is the first documentary to be approved by the Wallace estate.
“We can only imagine this was handled with the utmost care and respect. We might even get some new facts and new tea,” Peppers said excitedly as she asked Clark for his thoughts. Clark responded, “There have been different variations, but this is one of the moments where you get an authorized look into such an icon’s life. As we know from REVOLT and everything that Diddy does, it’s not going to hold back and...it’s gonna make us question and want to dig deeper.” Following this candid conversation, “REVOLT BLACK NEWS” took a look into the Black Music And Entertainment Walk of Fame nomination ceremony that featured Ludacris, CeeLo Green, Isaac Carree and Antonio Brown.
Next, Yee welcomed Foria Wellness investor Michele Harrington for a discussion about the correlation between sexual health and the cannabis industry. When it came to dispelling any myths about putting “womanly areas,” as Yee described, in health-related danger, Michele assured that hesitancy surrounding “putting something in your womb” in fact facilitates the necessary conversation around proper usage and non-harmful ingredients such as coconut-based products. “I always say if you can’t eat it or pronounce the items in the ingredient list, you shouldn’t be putting it down there,” she shared.
Michele, who is the wife of Viola owner Al, revealed that she gained interest in the sexual wellness space after being alarmed to know that nearly 75 percent of women never reach an orgasm from penetration intercourse and 10 to 15 percent never climax at all, according to Harvard University Press. “I feel like the Black and brown community are unaware that these products even exist,” Michele said about the exploration of CBD-based sexual wellness products such as Foria Wellness, which she tells Yee is right by her bedside. “As long as education continues, by the year 2027, this market has a trajectory of $123 billion. If that’s not enough incentive to jump in and educate yourself, I don’t know what is,” she closed.
Before the close of the episode, Williams encouraged viewers to visit Cannaclusive.com, an initiative founded by three Black women to “facilitate fair representation or minority cannabis consumers.” In addition to their accountability list, its website visitors have the option of inputting their information into their inclusive database. “Remember, this green rush is happening with or without us,” she said, “so let’s be sure to ensure that anyone who wants in as a Black entrepreneur has the tools and opportunities to succeed as a green entrepreneur.”