Jess Jackson

Common Citizen's Director of Social Equity and External Affairs on learning to love her size, increasing equity in cannabis, and creating generational wealth.


My mom and dad met in college in the Upper Peninsula, at Northern Michigan University. My dad is Black and my mom is white, and my grandparents on my mom’s side were not receptive to my father. My father was a victim of the crack epidemic, so he wasn’t very present in my life. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding Black fatherhood and my mother’s family held onto those.

Because I was raised by a white mother, one of the first ways that I learned about race was at my grandparents’ cabin. Like they did with all their grandchildren, they put a life vest on me and threw me into the river. I was able to swim, so I couldn’t be Black. That was the way my grandfather accepted me. That was my upbringing. I had to practice erasure of my cultural background. I had to perform in a way that was not stereotypically “Black.”


I’ve been able to integrate throughout [Common Citizen's] entire organization and be an evangelist for social equity.