Tiffany Haddish had me at “bootyhole.” In case you’re confused about that quote, it’s one of the best lines from the blockbuster hit Girls Trip, which opened this weekend and smashed some box office records.
In the movie about four friends going on a bad gals weekend trip to Essence Festival in New Orleans, Haddish is the fun-loving rebel of the bunch who also likes to participate in recreational drug use and partying. She whispers to Jada Pinkett Smith that she is hiding weed where the sun don’t shine. This scene is memorable not only because it’s funny AF, but because this is one of the very few times we see a Black woman in the mainstream celebrating her love of Cannabis (along with other hallucinogenic drugs), and the context is void of any negative connotations.
As a semi-retired party girl myself, it was incredible to watch four grown Black women smoke weed and not be depicted as crackheads. Up until now, the closest examples I’ve actually seen of famous women getting high have been the scene of Craig’s Auntie in Next Friday or Rihanna (literally everywhere). This has never seemed like enough considering that Black girls get high, too, but we aren’t typically allowed to brag about it like other people.
It wasn’t just in the movie that Haddish unapologetically talked about her love for mary jane, but during a guest spot on Jimmy Kimmel. She told a hilarious story about the hijinks she planned to get into during her downtime while filming in New Orleans. I had to do a double take when she described that she intended to get “high as hell” and redeem a Groupon for a kayak adventure. Hearing and seeing a Black woman say out loud that she was “high as hell” was truly groundbreaking and gave me butterflies. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but to me it was my truth. Not only does this representation bring Black women one step closer to just “being” in entertainment, but it can influence us being “allowed” to just be ourselves in real life. Women of color who smoke weed for medical or recreational purposes really do exist. And seeing them showcased as successful and professional, or just the girl next door, is uncharted territory in media.
The cannabis business continues to evolve. With decriminalization, we are seeing more boundaries being broken on and off-screen. It is no secret that weed and race have a very complex relationship. Many people of color are still serving lengthy jail sentences for non-violent crimes, even as white men cash in on the billion dollar industry. But while we wait for that injustice to be rectified, it helps to see someone who looks like me smoke weed for entertainment purposes.
So far, much of the representation within “cannabis culture” that is out there for people of color has been from men. Since Cheech and Chong, we have seen tons of men of color storm the gates of inclusiveness to showcase varying stoner lifestyles both real and fictional. Harold and Kumar, Redman and Method Man, Snoop Dogg and Wiz have all existed as carefree potheads within the mainstream. Half Baked was a pioneer film with a diverse ensemble cast that featured men of color, and stoner icon Dave Chappelle, who all smoked weed habitually. Despite that film having a female director (which is always a huge deal) the movie was still absent of women of color. And very seldom do we ever see women of color who genuinely enjoy getting high.
A theory I have is that because Black people are inherently viewed within society as criminal or guilty, there can be instances where we find ourselves exerting more effort and workmanship to earn respect and humanity. This constant code switching leaves very little room to openly discuss and participate in recreational drug use, especially since it still does remain illegal in most states. On the contrary, white people who love weed don’t appear to have this problem.
This constant code switching leaves very little room to openly discuss and participate in recreational drug use.For example, the legendary duo known as Broad City have trademarked their affinity for herbal refreshments and created visibility for themselves and that demographic.The show came into pop culture seemingly out of nowhere after building a cult following on YouTube and paved the way for women existing in their everyday lives while incorporating marijuana. Since then, the idea of women smoking weed has continued to be a source of empowerment for so many women. But often times it feels inferred that this empowerment excludes women of color.
Thankfully, women like Haddish and Issa Rae are changing the tides. Rae also started out on YouTube (where stoners go to fall into a blackhole of content when they’re baked). Awkward Black Girl began and transformed into Insecure. Insecure, like Girls Trip, allows people to see that Black girls and women like to have good clean wild fun like everyone else. One of the best scenes from the first season of Insecure is when Issa and Molly (her BFF) sit in a car just to smoke together and reminisce. Once again I was blown away by how revolutionary showing two Black girls smoking weed in a car felt to me. But then I saw it happen again on Atlanta, with Earn’s on-again, off-again girlfriend and baby’s mother (Zazie Beetz) also doing something so normal like hotboxing her car with her bestie. These scenes add another layer of complexity to characters versus playing into stereotypical tropes. And it gives me faith that the demonization of Black party girls is on its way out forever.
I’m optimistic that this trend is more than a phase. Women of color are making huge strides in both the film and cannabis industries. Seeing these women literally blazing a trail is nothing short of iconic, and the thought of seeing more of these women of color living their truths out loud gets me high.