Life isn’t supposed to be challenging, but systemic oppression within America causes mental, physical, and spiritual dis-ease that leads Black and Latin people down paths of destruction, which prevents many from achieving a life purpose that brings them joy and fulfillment. The shame they feel for being incarcerated does not go away even as they find ways to assimilate back into society. Shame can contribute to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. According to an article by VeryWell Mind, “A study conducted in Washington State found that former inmates have a higher risk of death than the general population, especially within the first few weeks of leaving prison, with drug overdose and suicide among the leading causes […] in addition to personal hardships and the stigma of having been incarcerated, it is challenging for former inmates to reintegrate into the community, achieve financial stability, access proper healthcare, and foster healthy relationships, which inevitably harms their overall health and wellbeing.” This reintegration process is even harder for women. Not only do formerly incarcerated women have to deal with the shame of being imprisoned, they also have to deal with the pressures of living in a society that isn't friendly to women. Women are always expected to perform perfection, and it is often easy for them to forget to prioritize their own wellbeing above all else.
It is no secret that cannabis can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. Many people gravitate towards it when they want to lift the weight of the world off their shoulders. With more advocates pursuing cannabis reform for people from disproportionately impacted communities, we must recognize that Black Women from these communities are also finding peace in the plant.
For International Women’s Day, we spoke with Serenity, a 27-year old mother of three, who was incarcerated for assault when she was 19-years-old. Prior to her arrest, Serenity had experienced the loss of her mother due to medical issues caused by domestic violence. Serenity’s arrest was the result of her defending her mothers memory and legacy, and protecting herself. When Serenity was released from prison, she found solace in cannabis. It has helped her find peace. Here is what Serenity had to say about how she incorporates cannabis into her self-care routine, the meaning of life, and advice she would give women who have also been incarcerated.
(Photo Source: Serenity @boneheadred)
The Farmer and The Felon: Tell us about yourself.
Serenity: My name is Serenity. I am a 27-years-old mother of three. I have a set of twins who just turned 9-months old and a 4-year-old. I was incarcerated from the age of 19 until I was 23-years-old for assault. I now work for the Treatment Access Center under the Division of Social and Mental Health for the State of Delaware.
The Farmer and The Felon: What does it mean to you as an individual to relax? Define it in your own terms.
Serenity: Relaxation to me is being able to unwind without the stress of your everyday responsibilities and being able to complete tasks of your choosing on your own time.
The Farmer and The Felon: What does your self-care routine look like?
Serenity: My self care routine includes personal grooming (ex: hair, nails, skin care), the consumption of cannabis, and hot showers.
The Farmer and The Felon: How do you incorporate cannabis into your self-care routine?
Serenity: When doing my skincare or hair routine, I usually smoke in the bathroom. I smoke in the morning on the way to work, and while I drink coffee to prepare myself for the day. I also smoke in the evening to unwind at night.
The Farmer and The Felon: What motivates you?
Serenity: My children are my biggest motivation. They motivate me to be the best version of myself I possibly can be.
The Farmer and The Felon: What self-care advice would you give other women who have been formerly incarcerated and looking to heal?
Serenity: Take the time to understand what has led you to where you are in your life. Accept the things you can not change. Promote positivity in everything you do. And remember that love always overpowers hate.
The Farmer and The Felon: In your own words, what is the meaning of life?
Serenity: Life to me is about making a footprint where you can. I'm a firm believer that we are exactly where we are supposed to be when we are supposed to be there whether we deem that place negative or positive. It's all character development in the grand scheme of things. Life is about learning and feeling the good and bad. And hopefully, leaving this earth with at least a greater understanding of self.
The Farmer and The Felon: Why is it important that we uplift women, no matter their trials and tribulations?
Serenity: It is important we uplift all women, especially Black Women, because we are the most undervalued and least protected group on the planet. Women are the nurtures and caretakers of almost everything. God is for sure a woman.
The Farmer and The Felon: What is your favorite quote, by a woman, that keeps you motivated and inspired to keep moving forward?
Serenity: “You are your best thing,” Toni Morrison
Though Serenity wasn't arrested for cannabis possession, we believe that her story illustrates that anyone, no matter their path in life, can find peace when being intentional about self-care and cannabis use. The plant offers us a greater understanding of life, but most importantly, it provides a greater understanding of ourselves. We can take those lessons and transform any negative into a positive.