Celebrating AAPI, a Q&A with Keilani Lime

 In Q&A

Keilani Lime, our Marketing Project Manager here at CeresMED, is a born and raised Vermonter. She is also an activist, painter, budding comic artist, and self-described “dog person.” We sat down with Keilani to talk about Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month and its significance to her. Check it out.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Hawaiian – it’s a tradition in my family that all of the girls get Hawaiian names. It means “Heavenly Child” or “Chief,” depending on the day and my mood. My mom is Swedish, and my dad’s side of the family is a little fuzzy, but we say we’re Koreans who grew up in Hawaii. My ancestors were indentured servants on the sugar plantations on the island. There isn’t a ton of documentation of our history other than that.

Keilani’s grandmother, Tutu in Hawaiian, stands in the center in a colorful dress. “She was a very fashionable lady, even as a child.”

How has your culture influenced your identity?

It has shaped me, from my diet to my professional career. I eat a lot of ginger. And rice. My boyfriend actually makes fun of me for how particular I am about my rice – I’ve learned that most Americans think that rice is rice. It’s not! Grains aside, growing up as an ethnic person in a very white state has underscored how important culture is to society and is largely the reason I consider myself an activist, bringing my passion for social justice into everything I do – including public service. I’m a proud member of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee, a committee that holds the award for the longest name for a committee ever made.

There has been a 150% rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the pandemic. How has this affected you?

Racism isn’t new to me. “What are you? You look so exotic” is not a compliment. It’s also not cool to ask someone to do the hula. I’ve been singled out simply because of the way I look. Family members have experienced police brutality, been called “Chink” and other slurs. So when certain people started getting scared of Asians because of the former president’s racist dubbing of COVID-19 “the China Virus,” I just sighed and shook my head. And immediately joined the fight in smashing that name and its connotations down. The hate crimes against people who look like me do hit home, but I’m also proud of the way AAPI people are handling it and how other Americans are standing in solidarity with them. I especially love the way the Linda Linda’s have blown up – I was a punk rock kid and can see a lot of myself in them.

How have you celebrated AAPI month?

I watched Crazy Rich Asians. Seriously. I wore my kimono, did a Korean face mask, and shoveled rice and chicken with seaweed into my mouth via my “fancy” pair of chopsticks while I rejoiced watching the first modern all-Asian-cast American movie in 25 years. Even though it definitely committed a bit of cultural appropriation. Still good. Five stars. Highly recommend. I also feel like participating in this Q & A is a solid way to celebrate.

Changing subjects a bit, how did you get into the Cannabis Industry?

I came to the industry after wrapping things up as the Marketing Director for the Vermont Comedy Club. I’ve found that my passion is lifting up Vermont small businesses, nonprofits, and start-ups. Married to that is the fact that before I was an employee, I was a patient at CVD (CeresMED) and really admired their work. I have a genetic condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, commonly called EDS, and medical cannabis has greatly improved my quality of life.

Tell us more about that. What does cannabis mean to you, personally?

Happily. EDS (we call ourselves Zebras) is a rare condition that affects the way your body makes collagen – which you can think of as your body’s glue. My body makes glue wrong. This results in frequent dislocations and systemic issues that cause a lot of problems. For instance, many years of hip dislocations caused something called Avascular necrosis, and I just had to have both hips replaced. I am 31 years old. As you can imagine, pain is a big part of most Zebras’ lives. So much that there is a large population of Zebras that become addicted to opioids and fall victim to overdose. I thank my lucky stars every day for the team at CeresMED and the medical cannabis they provide. I am not sure where I would be today without it.

Tell us something you’re excited about.

Since we’re talking about cannabis and AAPI, I am super excited about (SHH! It’s a secret!) a new cultivar with Hawaiian genetics that we just sprouted for this year’s Sun Grown crop. Anyone who is reading this, cross your fingers that she grows big and makes the cut. Hawaii is known for some of the more famous cannabis cultivars, and I’m anxious to see some pakalolo in VT!

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