By the age of 21, I’ve been to China, France, Spain, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Kenya, and Jamaica. I am Candace Clark, a Tuskegee University Alumna from Chicago, IL. I hold a BS in Agricultural Business with a focus on sustainability, a certificate in International Relations, along with being a former USDA 1890 Scholar. My experiences in these countries as an African American woman cultivated my passion for self-actualized development. It was abroad I realized the how my “blackness” is perceived, its level of inescapability, and how it affects my global citizenship.
My first experience abroad was to China, during my junior year at The Piney Woods School, a historically black boarding school. Everywhere we went, the Chinese were sneaking pictures of me and my classmates, asking to touch our hair or posing in our pictures as if they were on the cover of Complex or XXL Magazine. The Chinese people we encountered almost always posed like rappers in my pictures as opposed to the international sign of peace they wore faithfully in the pictures of my white counterparts. They already summed me up to be a caricature.
Then in Costa Rica, my first collegiate trip abroad, I witnessed people of darker complexions disrespected while only my American passport made my fellow students and I exempt from the same behavior. There, I realized colorism was just as prevalent in Costa Rica as it was on the south side of Chicago, if not more. My brief encounters with prejudices abroad caused me to empathize with the Diaspora, much of whom look like me and managed to endure it too. It was on my trips abroad that I truly saw how “American” I am and recognized that I am minority everywhere I go. My experiences abroad as an African American woman cultivated my internal obligation to serve her community and those like it abroad. But how does this connect me to the cannabis industry?
Racial injustices and their potential solutions, especially cannabis related injustices as I see them, are agricultural issues, and I approach them with a political, agro-ecological lens. In Chicago I had been randomly stopped and frisked when I was younger. It hadn’t dawned on me until I actually had an unjust run in with jail due to less than 0.5g of cannabis, that weed (as I called it then) was what they were looking to book me for. Before myself, I have had friends miss time of their lives and watched families ripped apart due to cannabis and the war on drugs. I've watched family members battling cancer reject the medicinal possibilities of cannabis because of propaganda, stigmas, and mass miseducation.
It's amazing how much you learn about home when you’re away from it. I traveled all these places only to come back home and realize everyone is struggling the same way, and in the US, cannabis is a tool used to maintain the masses’ struggle. Agrarianism, “black" and indigenous agrarianism specifically, has been a precious and healing form of resistance, and I cannot let the fire die out. The work to change society begins with myself, my community and the land which supports our existence. Educating our youth about the importance of agriculture, especially in urban areas, is important for representation and inclusivity in both the agricultural and cannabis industries. Using our experiences, we can break down barriers by assisting in the development and increasing the capacity of my neighbors while simultaneously encouraging agricultural representation and intersectional justice. I am excited to pass on tools for people to “cast their buckets down where they are,” as Booker T. Washington once said, in their communities, through holistic, sustainable agriculture.
In the spirit of George Washington Carver, I hope to empower developing communities by learning and becoming a medium for sustainable agricultural techniques to small and middle farmers internationally. Although the role of agriculture is not widely embraced, I seek to reconnect agriculture to my generation and those after it, as well as my culture to the world, through agriculture and sustainable practices.
To be honest, there are so many things that interest me, but I’m determined to do it all- which is why Kandeaux’s Couch will consist of blog posts, videos, photos, interviews and any other way information can be received. I have made the conscious decision that my career will be compiled of the things I love: traveling, communicating, and connecting. Our passions and innate interests are hints of our purpose from the universe - this is what Kandeaux’s Couch is about: An invitation to the agriculture world and documentation of my journey, a living and evolving testimony. It is the journey of “Connecting Ag and the Culture” using an intersectional approach to agriculture for the decolonization of minds and as a tool that allows connection between people to the earth and each other while exploring better versions of ourselves. I hope you all learn from and enjoy my journey and are encouraged to do multiple things... connect, be sustainable, and VIBRATE HIGHER.
ac·tiv·ist [ak-tuh-vist] noun; an especially active, vigorous advocate of a cause,especially a political cause.
ag·ri·cul·ture [ag-ri-kuhl-cher] - noun; the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming.
Ag·riv·ist [ag-ri-vist] - noun; an especially active, vigorous advocate of the science, art, or occupation concerned with and the politics of cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming.
Be sure to follow me @kandeaux_the_farm_plug on IG to stay up to date on the journey!