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Why we have stopped using the word “Tribe”

Growing up, the word “Tribe” never had a negative connotation. To me, “tribe” has always been synonymous with friendship, family, & community; however, it is my firm belief that we must never shy away from personal growth as individuals.

Similarly, at CannaSmack we constantly learn and evolve as a company, making it necessary to evaluate our practices and make the required changes for responsible, ethical, and morally sound business.

Moving forward we will no longer use the word “tribe”.

Over the past few months, I have had the chance to learn that “tribe” can be offensive to first nations and other POC groups due to the violence, history, and negative connotations applied through practices of colonialism.

Words not only have meaning, but they hold power; as a Mexican woman with a beautiful and strong indigenous grandmother, this hit particularly close to home. I refuse to perpetuate the pain and suffering of indigenous groups, if even in a small part, by using a word simply because my personal experience has not been a negative one.

From now on, we will use the term “CannaSmack Squad” to refer to our community. I hope you can continue to support us in this journey.

Love & Light

Kenia T.

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2 Replies to “Why we have stopped using the word “Tribe””

  1. As a mental health professional I completely appreciate where you are coming from. That is certainly one way to process and move forward (or backward depending on how you look at it). That said, all of us create negative assocaitions in our lives based on our own personal traumas. I have worked with many clients that do this in many different ways. One client couldn’t stand to hear the word “dishes” or even do the “dishes” because their step-parent used the dishes as a punishment. Another loved to camp but found out their fiance was cheating on them at the camp fire. Now they get upset when they hear anything associated with camping. The people in the lives of these individuals tried to help them by avoiding these topics and literally always doing the dishes for them.

    We create these associations naturally but that doesn’t mean we have to hold to them. In fact, the more we lean into them and reinforce them the more we create boundaries or limitations for ourselves. I’ve seen people unable to leave the house because they have just too many triggers built upoutside. One women drove a half hour out of her way to and from work (an hour total) so she would have to see the road sign for the city where she watched her father die of cancer. Well, we may not intentionally create these triggers but we do have a choice how to handle them. I have helped many clients create new positive associations for their triggers.

    Why is this important? Because we don’t have to live our lives as victims to our own natural negative associations. We can take ownership and build toward creating positive assocations. Because the more we grant the negative ones the more we hamper and hinder our own lives even up to and including our very mobilithy.

    When we support others doing this (perhaps in an effort to be kind and considerate or perhaps to make a statement on a website about how woke we are) we are actually enabling the person to reinforce their trauma and build up more boundaries. Now websites can’t use the word “tribe”? We have lost a word with a beautiful denotation. A tribe is something that brings us together under commonality. This makes a ban of it’s use a particularly ironic boundary. It brings us together in philosopy, need, or circumstances. Human beings quite literally need tribes. We do not survive without them.

    I’m wondering if you did a poll? How many people told you they found the use of this word offensive? Did you ask around if maybe the word had a positive association for others? Did you ask to see if anyone might be offended by you helping to reinforce negative assocations with a word – one that literally means survival and togetherness?
    I appreciate why you chose to make this announcement but I think with your good intentions you got this one wrong. If damage has been done to the word tribe then let’s focus on creating new and positive associations that allow all people to take this literally empowering word back. Because, when we stand together as a tribe we are all strong.

    1. I really appreciate your thoughtful response. I will not judge anyone who uses the word tribe, in fact, we used it for years primarily because my understanding of the meaning of the word was a positive one. I also think that it is important to learn to “take back” words that have been used to marginalize groups and instead use them to uplift them.

      The problem comes in when a company is viewed to “profit” from the use of a word that was often used to demean and dehumanize a group of people(s).

      While we did not conduct a poll, I was approached by people of native/indigenous heritage on several occasions who voiced their concern — followed by extensive reading. Rest assured that this was not an attempt to seem “woke”, but my honest response to valid arguments from people who have experienced marginalization through this word — even when I have not. My acceptance and understanding of their experience through empathy is what lead me to this choice.

      I think that as individuals and community groups we can certainty dispel the negative associations of the word “tribe” if we work together but we must be conscious to do this while openly acknowledging and understanding it’s history and impact on indigenous peoples.

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