5 Inclusive Questions For Cannabis Diversity Educator Dr. Tiffany Bowdenby Warren Bobrow
Dr. Tiffany Bowden is a strong educational proponent for social justice and equality. I wasn’t sure I wanted to touch on this topic, but when I learned of the positive work done by Dr. Bowden, I realized that she would fit the cannabis lens that I’m charged with. Her diversity trainings were the reason why I wanted to say yes, even before the question was asked. I wanted to approach this topic with sensitivity and open-mindedness. Asking the 5 Questions to Dr. Bowden should enlighten and educate equally because there really is no easy way to approach uncomfortable topics without diving right in. As in right now. Thank you Dr. Bowden for your enlightenment and kindness in the place of both cannabis and diversity. Cheers, WB
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself. What do you do? What brought you to cannabis? Do you enjoy the plant?
Tiffany Bowden-TB: I am a Diversity Consultant, Educator, Writer, Speaker, Coach. I can be found at www.tiffanybowden.com. I also serve as a Diversity Executive for organizations. Ultimately, I help build more inclusive and powerful organizations by confronting unconscious bias and helping them dive into innovative diversity education. I am serving and have serviced clients inside and outside of cannabis. Outside of Cannabis I have led implementations, training or talks for companies like Amazon, Movember Foundation, Digit, Procter & Gamble, Groupon, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and Arnold Worldwide. Within cannabis I have supported companies like Kikoko, Illumican, Harvest 360, Point 7, National Diversity & Inclusion Cannabis Alliance, LMDS consulting, and countless social equity cannabis license applicants. I have several dispensary and cultivation center employee trainings in the pipeline however due to covid, operational build outs and launch plans for these clients have been on hold. My diversity and Anti-Racism trainings however are in high demand.
I also ideated and co-founded the Minority Cannabis Business Association and served my former organization as the founding President. In addition, I founded ComfyTree Enterprises, the first Black owned traveling cannabis education company. In both instances. My experiences with my former companies helped me understand that while we talk about people getting into the cannabis industry, people do not discuss what happens to us when we are here. Many cannabis companies are so small that they are not regulated by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC). Women are at risk and Minorities too, are being used as props in social equity programs and these businesses are being taken from them or manipulated.
What brought me to Cannabis was learning that a family member was using it for pain management. I had a negative reaction to the use because I was misinformed. My studies lead me to be the first person to study hand written correspondences between Harry Anslinger and Roger Adams, the man who discovered CBD. I was able to find in those interactions that if it were not for Anslinger's racism and biases, we would have discovered THC in the United States by the late 1930's and certainly by 1940 and wouldn’t have such deeply rooted misinformation.
I owe a great deal of debt to the cannabis plant for saving me from the pain of a spinal fracture. More than indoor vs outdoor I care about the ethics and diversity of companies in my purchase decisions. I like women owned or inspired brands. Some of my favorites are House of Saka, Bolivar Hemp Company, Kikoko, Mary's Medicinal Transdermal Compound, Foria, Koa + Roy. I also am a big fan of Hemp companies as they stretch my imagination with all of the products they create. I think it’s important that African Americans in reclaim their heritage in Hemp. These are some of the elements I elevate in my cannabis diversity training.
WB: What does your company do better than its competition? What kind of obstacles do you face every day?
TB: Diversity training in particular has been rooted in a lot of fear based versus love based conversations. If not handled carefully it can create more division rather than connection. Many trainers may also specialize in a particular area of diversity but lack intersectional approaches. These approaches cause more harm and birth biases. It is when diversity training is done in these ways that it opens the whole field for unbalanced attack. We need diversity training now more than ever but we need to do it in such a way that it increases empathy.
I am a PhD and I’m Ford Foundation trained for difficult dialogue facilitation and I also have my own approaches developed through intuitive methodology. I have the ability to bring both a soft touch and tough love when necessary. Some trainers are one or another. Additionally, I have embodied experience as a Black woman that lends a more intimate view of those realities. I am however to check my own bias, honor myself as an embodied subject rather than having a monopoly on the truth. I do not position myself as the owner of knowledge in the room but favor a potluck style that allows all to come to the space with their own experiences and learn and grow from each other. I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. We have emotional and even spiritual experiences not only cerebral ones. To me it doesn’t matter if you learn the definition of racism if you ultimately don’t care about fellow human beings at the end of the day. I deal with what matters most. I also work with clients of all sizes and create custom solutions rather than approaching an organization and telling them what I want to do which may or may not be a fit for their organization.
WB: What are your six-and twelve-month goals?
TB: Within 6 months I’m expecting justice for Breonna Taylor.
Beyond that I’m looking to take on more diversity training clients. Within 12 months I’m expecting those clients to be needing additional diversity services which I can help them with. I am like a Chief Diversity Officer for hire. I imagine I will be sitting on boards for social equity applicants, helping women and minorities gain access to opportunities, and I will be helping the tech industry make impacts on its diversity problem simultaneously. I have already heard of many of my clients winning licenses with my assistance so once Covid releases I know that I will be very busy with Sexual Harassment Training, Diversity Workshops and more. I also have several people already pre-enrolled in my Diversity Trainer certification and my Allyship course forthcoming. I’m doing a lot of speaking gigs currently as well as news appearances given the climate and my expertise alignment. Certainly, after the election I expect my phone to be ringing no matter who wins because we are in very tense times racially and people are starting to become radicalized and polarized but also aware that that environment is unstable.
Beyond my professional goals, I would love a healthy, thriving, committed relationship. I’m ready to share my time, my space and my heart.
WB: What kind of food do you like? Favorite food memory from childhood? Who taught you to cook (if you do cook)? Favorite recipe?
TB: Everyone in my family knows how to get down a little bit in the kitchen. We have southern roots With some midwestern flair. In my case I have been plant based for 2 years so though I know how to get down from the ways I have previously prepared food, I’m starting from scratch learning how to make food from my new diet. I have been enjoying raw food even more than cooked. Christy Harden’s I <3 Raw is a book I highly recommend.
If I were to choose a favorite between all of my family members, I might start a war. I have a few. My sisters Banana Bread, my grandmas Chocolate Cake, my cousin just made a seafood spread I haven’t tried but I would crush if I weren’t plant based, my aunts fried chicken or Yams also used to be a fave. My mother’s hot chocolate on the stove. Other than that French toast is my absolute favorite thing when it’s done well. Someone lovingly made me a vegan French toast recently that made my year.
My whole family taught me how to cook. I appreciate it as a mindfulness practice. Living in LA has taken me away from the practice but I’m returning to my roots with that now that I have more time.
My lips are sealed on my favorite recipe. Family code.
WB: What is your passion?
TB: Connection. I love creating more love in the world. I get to do that through my Diversity work. Rather than division I foster connection through helping people to connect on shared values, principles and common ground while also reckoning where we are out of integrity with those values and principles. I help to break down illusions of disconnection in humanity and help people navigate these issues in their hearts rather than just their minds. I love helping people let go of who they think they are so they can grow into what we as a collective may become. I do this at the level of the individual, interpersonal and societal level.