I feel cultural appropriation is in some cases a form of “appreciation.” I remember having my hair braided or wearing kimonos. I wasn’t trying to appropriate anything, I just admired the style that different cultures had and wanted to embody it.
However, coming up with an elaborate story of 3 Latina sisters, María, Sonia, and Adriana, who own a marijuana brand, “La Chingona,” just to find out that the sisters don’t exist and behind that brand there is a white dude, is a very different story…
The white dude is none other than Michael Kaiser, the owner and founder of healthcare and cannabis manufacturing companies, and he probably thought of this brilliant idea when he was high. “I didn’t think that anyone would believe that the legend story, the origin story, was factual,” he said to the L.A Times. Well then Michael, you should have made the 3 sisters mermaids because the description of the 3 sisters was pretty real.
Maria was the oldest sister, “the plant whisperer of the familia,” who perfected cultivation techniques while tending to her family’s sugar cane fields in Mexico. Sonia was the backbone of the business who learned to heal with plants and herbs as a child while following her abuelita around the family ranch. And Adriana, the baby of the bunch, learned the art of negotiation and persuasion selling sugar cane at the market with her father.
When Susie Plascencia, a public relations social-media marketer, discovered that La Chingona cannabis’ bio had been fabricated and the company was owned by mostly non-Latino men, she was as puzzled as I am.
And for Plascencia, the story of the Del Rosario sisters was more than just a marketing ploy concocted by a businessman to make his way into a profitable corner of the marijuana market. Initially, she wanted to help the brand and do things right, but after realizing she couldn’t convince Kaiser to make the company truly Latinx by having real Latinx gente behind it, she and her friend Savina Monet started calling the brand out on social media. Susie told the LA Times that within days, about a dozen dispensaries canceled their orders, and weeks later, the brand shut down.
Listen, if you want to have a brand about Latinas and you are not one of them, make a Latina your CEO. It’s that simple.