Economic Restorative Justice

by Talia Rodríguez

One of the best things about growing a community around #Latinaherstory and #latinasinbusinessNY is that I meet amazing women who continue to inspire me. They take risks and risk taking is something that, I didn’t know I didn’t like. I’ve become a little bolder, drawing on the strength of their “formation” stories that we share at our events. We all get together after eating and talking and make deliberate space to share our stories. I used the word “deliberate space” and I am going to come back to that. How do you build deliberate space? You respectfully show an individual that you are in whatever capacity that looks like to you. To us, it looks like sitting in a circle and giving each other eye contact and no phones. Organically sometimes Latinas build deliberate space to share like – Noche de Damas – at church but most of the time we can’t economically afford the time it takes to build deliberate spaces. Because you have to pause.

That needs to change, we need to embrace change, and build deliberate space around the people and the ideas we support. And in those spaces with your colleagues or with your elders or sisters, give each other space to be flawed, to speak Spanglish, to not know, and most of all to be ambitious. Our community has a rich history in the United States and some of that history frames the ending of the marijuana prohibition differently for us. As a result, we need to build deliberate spaces to learn about what this means for our community both from an economic perspective and social justice perspective.

Marijuana prohibition impacted the lives of the children whose family member were prosecuted under its law. One such child has now grown into a beautiful strong Puerto Rican woman and she has decided, properly, to use the end of marijuana prohibition in the United States to her economic benefit. If that’s not economic restorative justice I don’t know what is. She’s brave, her name is Dianelix Rivera and she is the CEO and owner of Loud Sirnez Cannabis Fashion Boutique. Why is this important? She is not looking to cut even for the impacts that marijuana prohibition marked on her family’s economy, she’s looking to overcome economically and form a new future.

Loud Sirnez Cannabis Fashion Boutique is loud proud and sharing information about the positive and medicinal effects of Cannabis. Resistance can be an outfit and Dianlex knows that. Restorative Justice is defined as Restorative justice is a response to wrongdoing that prioritizes repairing harm. It can be defined in three action terms: Encounter, Repair, and Transform. As a community we know that persecuting someone for the possession of a plant that has been used for thousands of years as medicinal is wrong (encounter), we know the policies that were shaped to enforce marijuana prohibition were unjust in that they specifically targeted communities of color- we know that in order to reverse these racists polices we need people impacted by those racist policies at the table (repair), we know we need to transform our understanding of Marijuana.

Dianelx is a pioneer. She is less than thirty years old, a student of the world, the oldest of four children, and a Latina whose Puerto Rican heritage inspired her to be unafraid of the unknown. Huracan Maria upturned her life, Covid impacted her, as a student she has had successes and gained perspective. At present she is also enrolled in a program for small business at our SBA at SUNY Buffalo State College.

Ageism is defined prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age. We have to accept two things as a community (1) Cannabis is now legal and a source of economic opportunity (2) Young people will lead the way. Statistically Latinas will grow the marijuana, but will not be afforded a seat at the table to discuss it.

Come back to to read Dianelix’s full interview and learn about one of the young people that wants to go first.

Talia Rodriguez is a bi-racial, bi-cultural, and bi-lingual Latina from Buffalo. Ms. Rodriguez’s mission is to write about Latina’s, who have shaped the face of our city and our region. It is Ms. Rodriguez’s believes that our own people should inspire us and in telling our collective stories, we push our community forward. Ms. Rodriguez is a community advocate and organizer. She is a 5th generation West Sider, a graduate of SUNY Buffalo Law School, and an avid baseball fan. She lives on the West Side with her young son A.J… Ms. Rodriguez sits on the board of several organizations including the Belle Center, where she attended daycare. Ms. Rodriguez loves art, music, food, and her neighbors.

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