Despite efforts by pro-pot politicians like Senator John Fetterman, Pennsylvanians still lack foundational knowledge about cannabis and culture. One woman is dedicated to changing that.
The Black Dragon Breakfast Club started as an educational hub and grassroots political representation organization for greater Philadelphia’s Black and Brown communities in 2018. Tsehaitu (pronounced “say-hi-tu”) Abye created the organization to provide a Black-woman-led creative agency and safe space for healing the traumas of the War on Drugs.
The mission of the Black Dragon Breakfast Club is to “change the perception of weed through disruptive marketing practices, community outreach, and engagement advocacy.”
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Tsehaitu is an Ethiopian woman who actively serves her community as a board member of the Pennsylvania Farmers Union.
She is a labor organizer, political organizer, business strategist, and artist. And all of these threads weave into her personal and professional cannabis practice.
Tsehaitu moved to Hawaii when she was 15 years old and lived there through high school and college. After graduating from the University of Hawaii, she made her way to Mendocino County, California, beginning what she thought was her introduction to weed on a legacy cannabis farm in California’s infamous Emerald Triangle.
While in Mendocino, Tsehaitu developed a foundational understanding of cultivation and the medicinal benefits of cannabis. But little did she know, she was actually continuing the legacy of her father, an immigrant from Ethiopia who’d met her mother in Hawaii decades earlier. Unbeknownst to Tsehaitu, her father spent ten years in an Albuquerque prison before being deported back to Ethiopia when she was younger. The crime?
Growing cannabis in the mountains of Hawaii. The harsh reality of cannabis prohibition divided them for 30 years.
A generational connection revealed
Today, Tsehaitu is keenly aware of the social dynamics that shaped her father’s use of cannabis and how they influenced the Black communities she supports through her union-organizing work.
“[For many people,] selling drugs is about employment and opportunity. My dad was caught in the middle of that. There was an entire conscious movement in the 60s and 70s, but a lot of wisdom was not passed down due to the Reagan years of prohibition,” she says.
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As for Tsehaitu’s mother, respectability politics, shame, and concerns about bad outcomes tainted her views and made it hard for her to accept cannabis as medicine.
This paradoxical relationship between a father involved in the legacy market and a mother doing her best to support her first-generation Ethiopian child ultimately led Tsehaitu to go on her own journey with cannabis and seek healing on her own terms.
She spent three years on a farm in Potter Valley, California, before returning to her hometown in Philadelphia to implement all she learned.
Tsehaitu’s advice: Be the person your community deserves
From hosting local events to showcasing the Black Dragon Breakfast Club brand at the Roots Picnic back in 2019, Abye quickly became engulfed in the tiring effects of startup culture. Since then, she has dug even deeper within herself to understand how she wants to grow her organization and move forward as a community leader.
The creation of the Black Dragon Breakfast Club marries the personal, spiritual, and healing qualities of cannabis that Tsehaitu believes establish a core foundation for her daily and long-term wellness.
In order to embody the true spirit of a black dragon—industrious, progressive, and loving—she recommends fellow leaders of a group do the same.
“I didn’t want to bring people into a community that is pretty on paper, but the leadership has not even started their [own] healing. I have been in some companies where leadership is just a reflection of our narcissistic society. Our leadership needs to be more feminine, soft, loving, and compassionate, but I can’t help lead that unless I do my own healing.”
The Black Dragon Breakfast Club offers a range of goods and services, including Dragon Affirmation Cards, branding and strategy consultations, and cannabis content marketing services.
With every new offering, Tsehaitu attempts to connect people more deeply with the reasons they are drawn to cannabis in the first place— whether it’s their need to decompress, their desire to find themselves, or their dream of creating a successful brand or business that connects with real needs and desires.
As she heals and grows, Tsehaitu will continue to work within her community through the Black Dragon Breakfast Club, along with the other policy and campaign management work she spends her time doing.
She maintains her on-the-ground activism in Pennsylvania, running voter registrations, producing community events, and advocating for more healing and authenticity in our society.
Connect with the Black Dragon Breakfast Club and Tsehaitu Abye @blackdragonbreakfastclub on Instagram or at www.shopblackdragons.com.