How to Be a True Ally to Women of Color with Rachel Cargle favorite_border

Conversations from the Heart - September 7th 2018

Author: Rachel Brathen

Topics: Being of Service, Exciting Guests

Links: Apple Podcasts / Spotify

About the Episode

In this episode, Rachel introduces her community to Rachel Cargle. A writer, speaker, and educator, Rachel Cargle’s work is centered around educating white women on how they can support women of color in genuine ways.

Rachel Cargle begins this discussion by sharing how she began this journey of activism and how she didn’t have a choice as a Black women trying to exist in a world not built to support her.

Oppositely, our host Rachel openly shares her ignorance and her fears as a white woman – how scared she was to have this conversation, to do something wrong, and to come across as racist. This sparks one of the most honest and deep conversations yet, on why it is so crucial for all of us to have this conversation - and why it is a privilege if you choose not to have it.

Offering clear definitions and examples of tone policing, spiritual bypassing, white saviourism and exceptionalism, Rachel Cargle clearly shows how good intentions are not enough to erase our impact on society.

The truest form of love is anchored in action.

Join the conversation, get uncomfortable, acknowledge your mistakes, question your past, and learn how to be a true ally to women of color. As a community we must do this work, allow ourselves to sit with discomfort and not remain quiet.

More about Rachel Cargle

Rachel Cargle is a public academic, writer, and lecturer. Her activism and academic work are rooted in providing intellectual discourse, tools, and resources that explore the intersection of race and womanhood.

Rachel lectures across the US and beyond on topics of unpacking the racist histories of various American systems, affirming in the Black experience with tools of language, concepts, and cultural systems, as well as workshops that address everything from finding one's highest values to exploring the true allyship.

Rachel is the visionary behind many brands, including the Loveland Foundation which provides therapy for Black women and girls in the effort to bring opportunity, access, validation and healing to marginalized people.

You can follow Rachel on Instagram at @rachel.cargle.

Rachel3-min

Transcript

[01:31] Rachel Brathen: Hi and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations With Yoga Girl. I am so happy to welcome this very special next guest on the show. She is a writer, speaker, educator, currently a student at Columbia University, and chances are you have already come across her writing through social media. Her work is centered around educating white women, like myself, on how we can - in genuine, dedicated ways - support women of color. She is shedding light on important issues like systematic racism, spiritual bypassing, and much more. Terms that, if you don’t know them yet, you are about to learn all about. Here to talk to us today about intersectional feminism and more, Rachel Cargle, welcome to the show!

Rachel Cargle: Hi! Thank you so so so so much.

Brathen: Hey! So so happy to have you here. This feels like an anticipated talk.

Cargle: It has been anticipated, very much so.

Brathen: I know. We’ve only been talking for I don't know how … I don't know, a little over a month maybe? But it feels like a much longer time than that.

Cargle: Yeah, both of our followers have been waiting for this.

Brathen: Yes. I’m so so honored to have you on the show. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. So, the name of this show is From The Heart, so before we dive into everything, just speaking From The Heart, in this moment right now, how are you doing?

Cargle: I’m doing really well! I just got back from some traveling, and so I’m just really happy to be back in New York City. I say that I am just as happy flying back home as I am flying out, so I’m just really happy to be home after having such a great trip.

Brathen: I know that feeling so well. Coming home is almost, sometimes, better.

Cargle: Yeah, yeah. Seriously.

Brathen: That’s how I feel at least. Seriously. That’s how you know you live in the right place, if you feel that way.

Cargle: Right, for sure.

[03:13] Brathen: So, for someone who might be listening right now, so we’re about to talk about some really serious topics that feel very current in the media and social media right now, which is a super important thing, that we’re having this conversation. For someone who doesn’t know you, or maybe are being introduced to you right now for the first time, maybe they don’t follow you on social media yet, could you share a little bit about how you came to do this type of work?

Cargle: Yeah. It’s really interesting because I often get asked how I came to really speak on race issues, and the truth is being born as a black woman, you really don’t have a choice. You’re out here trying to exist in a world, especially in America in particular, that wasn’t really built to support you or to acknowledge you or to honor you or to really ensure that you have the things that you need in this country. So, I kind of was born into this work, but then recently, as I began to write more and started to have more conversation with others about what this experience is like, as well as getting into very frank conversation with the white women in my world about how I needed to be supported, as a black woman and other black women in my community. Really the Trump election kicked off this conversation in a way that I don’t think it’s been had in a very long time, specifically because a lot of white women were all of the sudden feeling vulnerable in a way that they had never been before. Then something clicked in them to say, “Wow, wait. Black women have been feeling this way for a very long time. Minorities have been feeling this way for a very long time.” So it created a space for me to really slide in and say, “You know what? You’re absolutely right. Let’s talk about this a little deeper.”

[04:52] Brathen: So, has it gotten significantly worse, with the Trump administration? Or is it just that it’s more out in the open? Are these the same issues?

Cargle: Yeah, the same issues that have been going on for generations and generations, it’s just that all of the sudden there is this heightened awareness of it, with everyone being in a very scary, vulnerable place with the administration that’s in office right now, and it really opened up a lot of opportunity for conversation, to say, “Okay, see how you’re feeling? Now use that energy to ensure that no one feels this way, not just you.” So, it’s just a very interesting time in history where the conversation is more open, but also it’s a chance to really reflect on how much this conversation has been needed for so so long.

Brathen: For such a long time. This is a very current thing and very much at the surface in the U.S. right now. About half of the people that listen to this podcast are not in the U.S., but from Europe and Brazil and all over the world. But these conversations are being had, and these surfacing situations are happening all over the world, it’s not just in the U.S. In Sweden, for instance, where I’m from, we have elections coming up now, and there is the Swedish Democrats, which is … I don't know what to compare them to, if I could compare them to a party in the U.S. But it’s very much a racist party. And just saying that out loud, I know there is going to be Swedish people listening that say, “Oh no, that’s not the case.” But for anyone who is listening, know that it’s very much a racist party. And they are gaining extreme traction right now.

[06:30] Have you had a sense of this sort of international climate? So not just speaking from the American standpoint, but a reasoning why there is a wave of this happening right now all over the world?

Cargle: I have had so much interaction with a lot of my international followers. It’s something that once I became to travel, once I became an adult, I realized that it seems like international communities know way more about the U.S. than we know about other places. Maybe it has to do with our education system, or just our values here. I don't know, it’s very interesting. But once I began to engage with people outside of the U.S., I realized that there was so much that we were all dealing with in the same way. I actually am friends with an incredible black woman who lives in Sweden, and she has been keeping me up on a lot of the things that are happening there, and it seems like they’re all the same. I think that there is just this obvious colorism that the darker you are, the more discriminated against you are, regardless of what country you’re in. And that lends itself to just this international white supremacy that needs to be dismantled across the world.

Brathen: Yes, absolutely. Speaking as a white woman, born and raised in Sweden, in Sweden I think we have these conversations … I don't know if it’s a lot more. I don’t want to generalize what it’s like, the difference from growing up in the U.S., but at least the way I grew up in kind of downtown Stockholm, all my friends growing up, everyone was from completely different places. We’ve had so much immigration for so many generations in Sweden. So it was always very mixed, at least that’s how I grew up. So I kind of have always had this sense that, I’m realizing now, like, “Oh, but I’m color blind. I grew up and my best friend was from there and there and there and there, so I am not like these white people that marginalize or that have racist views but they don’t know about it.” I’ve had an upbringing that brought me to this place of, I think, being a little bit delusional in how I show up, actually, how my actions show up to the outside world because the fact that you and I are having this conversation right now, it sparked, for me, conversations that I’ve had internally, with my friends and my family and specifically within my business, within the yoga world, but not out loud, on how can we have more diversity in our business, in our yoga retreat, in our teacher trainings. And it’s been really obvious already for the past two years, we have very very few people of color that attend our groups here at the studio that I run. So it’s most white women that come to my trainings.

And I’ve been really aware that this is an issue, but I’ve been terrified to speak it out loud. I’ve been so scared that, okay, if I say that out loud am I going to be faced with the fact that I’m doing something wrong? It’s a very obvious, “Am I doing something racist and that’s why we’re not having women of color attend the trainings.” And I haven’t had these conversations with people of color either. It’s been this sort of white people talking to white people here in my own community of, “How can we get more diversity at our trainings?” But I haven’t spoken it out loud. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when Nia Wilson was murdered that I shared a post for the very first time trying to, in a humble way, somehow talk about my ignorance and ask for help. And then I was introduced to your work for the first time, which led us to this conversation.

[10:00] So I guess what I’m getting at, and this is also a question we’ve received from so many people through social media, how can white women in white communities have these conversations in an easier way?

Cargle: I think “easy” needs to be a word that is taken out of the conversation, because I don’t think it will ever, ever be easy. But I think one really important thing that you’ve just brought up in sharing your own story is that there’s such a deep danger in feeling colorblind, as you said, feeling like you’re not part of the problem, or feeling that you’re somehow excluded from the group of white people that aren’t part of the supremacy that has taken over the whole world and marginalized and really hurt so many people of color. So I think that that recognition is so important, to say, 0kay, I have white skin, which means that I have white privilege, which means I need to really take into consideration how I experience that and how I use it in order to ensure that people who don’t look like me are being heard and acknowledged and held up, and the best way that I can do it that looks, you know, sometimes it looks like just within your home or within your community. But also it means being loud and disrupting really important spaces. So, I think that acknowledgement is really important.

Like you said, there’s this underlying fear of using the word racist. Racist isn’t a bad word. It’s a thing, and you accept and say, “Oh my gosh, I’ve done racist.” Being called racist is not the worst thing that can happen to someone. There’s a lot of worse things that can happen, and those worse things usually happen to people of color. To be called racist or to be called out on your racist actions or thoughts or ideas are an opportunity for you to sit back and say, “Wow. There’s this entire system in the world that’s been built around me, and I happen to be born into a space to benefit from it. So I need to sit back and look at how race plays a role in my life, and if you’re white, you’re on the benefiting side of that, and you really need to sit with the word race. Say it out loud. Have an understanding of where you fit into it. So, I think really people working out of their discomfort … It’s not okay to not have the conversation because you’re uncomfortable. So I think that’s one of the first parts is just saying, “Wow. I’m white in a racist society. I’m benefitting from it. Where do I go from here?” I think having that acceptance, when you start to break those walls down of just being defensive around the topic of race, that’s when real work can be done. Because as long as you’re still sitting in your ego of not wanting to be called out or not wanting to be called in, or not wanting to accept the fact that this is the reality whether you asked for it or not. People often say, “Well, I didn’t ask to be white.” And I didn’t ask to be black, but here we are. So we need to start having these conversations from a lens of truth instead of from trying to look at it from a lens of comfort.

Brathen: Yes, yes. And I think that this idea that I’ve had, that “Oh I am completely colorblind.” And I live in Aruba, which is a really small community. We only have 100,000 people here, but there are 83 nationalities. So in my day-to-day, it’s just not something that I think about a lot.

[13:11] And I have gotten those comments on social media, like, whenever I share a photo of a big group of say 55 graduates from a training, “Like, oh we’re so proud of these YTT graduates. Congratulations!” And then someone comments, like, “Oh, that’s a lot of white women.”

Cargle: Yeah.

Brathen: And immediately my … I would get sort of triggered by that, as in, “But is that my fault? Like, I’m white, I’m attracting white people.” And I’m realizing now how ridiculous it was that I didn’t already, from that first moment I ever had a comment like that in my feed go, “Oh wait, what can I do about that?” Instead of just get uncomfortable and say, “But I’m white, so it’s not my fault.”

Cargle: Yeah, I think something that’s really important in that sense is that when you’re saying, you know, when you were growing up in your hometown, you were colorblind because you didn’t have to think about it. That’s a privilege in itself. You didn’t have to think about it, but I’m sure some of the other people in your community had to think about it, and it was something that they thought about every day. One other thing I wanted to speak to, talking about your trainings and thinking how you see, you know, you’re so proud to put out these photos, and then someone will comment and say, “Oh my gosh, that’s a lot of white people.” Often … we would be naturally triggered, I think. I don’t want to use the word triggered. We would be naturally aware when we see all male spaces. When we see a photo coming out of … If we saw a photo of a graduating class of a university and it was all male, we would be like, “Um, wait. This is not okay.” I think there would be an automatic questioning of what’s going on. And I think that it’s time for white women, who would naturally be aware of a situation based on our sex or our gender to really start considering those same thought lines looking at race.

[14:58] Brathen: I completely agree. And I’m realizing now this different level of consciousness that this has brought into my entire perception of everything, exactly the way you say it. If I would ever see a group, for instance, a really tangible example is this past weekend I attended a 3-day conference here in Aruba on child abuse. It was really intense, but there was a big panel of speakers there. Normal I have that looking of, “How many women are here?” Immediately. I have that in the back of my head, and I count and I’m like, “Okay, this is pretty equal, women/men.” And then for the first time I caught myself really checking in. “Wait, how many speakers are of color here. In this Caribbean part of the world which is not a native white place.”

Cargle: Exactly!

Brathen: There were two people of color and nine white panelists.

Cargle: Isn’t that wild? It’s so wild.

Brathen: At first it blew my mind, it completely blew my mind. What? Here we are, it’s all Caribbean … And then it blew my mind that, wait, how many other situations have I been in where I didn’t notice or I didn’t think about it?

So I’m sitting here today, there’s a lot of people that listen to this podcast. I feel equally ashamed, really, from having had this ignorance, really having had this ignorant looking to the outside world, especially being in the line of work that I am. It’s something that we talk about so often in terms of diversity and equality, but for me it’s been a feminist thing and women and men and helping people in poverty and things like that. I haven’t had this racial outlook, and I think I haven’t had it because I’ve had this idea of, “Oh, but I don’t see color that way because of how I was brought up,” or whatever. Which I’m realizing now is just probably more dangerous than anything else.

Cargle: Yeah, for sure.

Brathen: So I would love to invite anyone listening, especially white women listening, if you have that idea of, “Oh, but there’s no difference,” uh, there is a difference!

Cargle: And it’s a privilege in itself to feel that way. It’s a privilege in itself to not have to notice.

[17:03] Brathen: To not have to notice, it’s a huge thing. So, getting deeper into this, something that immediately happened after I think we did a little tag and an Instagram story that we’re going to have this conversation, and I am excited to learn from women of color, to ask questions, to ask for help, because I’ve been worried, okay, what if we … We’ve actually had that conversation, we had a meeting on this at the studio where I had the question, “Okay, if we offer our teacher training to a discount, or we have a quote of spots that are only designated for women of color or people of color, is that in itself racist? To say, ‘Oh wait, you have a different color of skin than my general demographic, so I’m going to do something specific for you.’” Even though I’m realizing now, like, yeah, that probably is not a bad idea, the fear of it being racist made me do nothing.

Cargle: Yeah. I think a lot of people speak on they’d rather do nothing than be wrong. And I think that’s such a problematic way to think, because if we think about it in any other case, in any other social justice situation, that would never be the answer! The answer would never be, “Don’t do anything.” That would never be the way that we feel we need to take action. I think that it’s fair to do research. We have the world in our hands at this point. I’ve been doing so much studying on race issues from the past, just to kind of get an understanding of who we are now and what I’m fighting for in context with things that have happened over time, and there’s just so much information of how things have been done over time, and it’s fair for people to really start digging in and figuring out what has worked and what hasn’t. Reach out to each other, reach out and ask questions. There’s always a conversation on social media, especially mind and other activists that say, “You know, it’s not a black woman’s job to teach you how to respect her, teach you how to be a decent human being in terms of race.” I am often going out to speak and answer questions, but this is my work. I would never expect every black woman to go out and be an educator on this. This just happens to be the work that I was given and that I am very happy and proud and equipped to do. But I think as far as ensuring that you’re listening to women of color who are teaching, reading books, doing the work on your own to ensure that you have the deepest knowledge you can at any point in time and act accordingly. And if you mess up, change it and do it better next time. Learn how to apologize.

One thing that I’ve seen from white women over and over, especially in this situation of race is that they’ve been conditional allies. They’ve been conditional allies, as long as they’re comfortable, as long as they feel like they’re doing things right, and as long as they are getting, I don't know, some kind of praise that makes them feel comfortable. So I want to challenge white women, get uncomfortable. Figure it out. Be willing to make mistakes for the sake of continuing forward and doing better, and learn how to apologize, to say, “Wow. I see what you’re saying. My intent doesn’t erase my impact, and I’m going to listen, I’m going to learn better and do better next time.”

[Commercial Break]

[21:54] Brathen: Let’s talk about tone policing. So, we have a couple of terms, a couple of really important terms to learn that I think are, in some ways, at least in my recent social media feeds, I’ve seen cause a lot of confusion. A big piece of the questions I got for you today were on tone policing, specifically. Could you explain, just to us, what does it mean to tone police someone?

Cargle: Yeah, so what tone policing is there’s often situations where white women will come into a black woman’s space … and I’ll speak on my own behalf, because it’s happened to me at least once a day, where white women come into my space and say, “Hey, I really want to hear what you have to say, but it sounds like you’re being really aggressive. Maybe if you spoke a little nicer, more people would want to hear from you.” Or, “Maybe if you weren’t making me feel so bad about being white, I would actually want to be an ally to you.” So, tone policing is when you’re coming in and you’re telling black women to change their tone in order to make you more comfortable to hear what they have to say. That is not okay. And it also shows in the way that … And I brought this up in a post that I made recently is that I, personally, am I very well-spoken, very well-written, Ivy League educated, by societal beauty standards I am attractive. I’ve been claimed it’s easy to listen to. My message is palatable because all of those things that make me someone who people might want to hear from.

But that shouldn’t be the case. Any black woman in any space looking any way who might not be as well spoken, who might be loud and angry and enraged, who might not be as well-written, she deserves to be heard too. And so if you’re only receptive to the people that make you feel okay, you’re not really an ally, you’re still sitting in your comfort. So tone policing is really just the word that we use when we’re trying to explain to someone that they’re coming into our space and telling us how we need to talk about our pain in order to make them more comfortable.

[23:59] Brathen: And this has been something that, it’s been a very very … I think a peak of the conversation that has happened in my social media feed in the past couple of weeks, this has been one of the main issues. I was really really on one end of this where I, right now, I don't know if I did something right or wrong, and I’m still sitting with this. So, you and I kind of sharing with the social media world that we were going to talk to each other immediately sparked a different conversation, or a related conversation on the topic of cultural appropriation and yoga. Which is a conversation that … I’m not blind to this topic. We have it all the time. Not in this uncomfortable way though. I want to point that out. So, it’s not something that I’m new to. I use to wear a Bindi five or six years ago. I’ve learned and grown since I was in my early 20s, kind of new to this whole … everything that I associated as tools to the lifestyle of this practice. And the first time someone ever told me that, “Hey, wearing a Bindi is cultural appropriation,” I was really offended, and really upset and couldn’t understand how something that I was doing with reverence and respect, I thought, could ever be offensive to someone else. And since then I’ve learned and grown, and this conversation now, you and me, sparked a much wider array on this topic, is it cultural appropriation to teach yoga as a white woman? Which, for me, was a big blow, not just to my ego, but to my … It came on as a threat to my entire identity. So, I was kind of faced with this social media storm of, “Oh, are you going to have a conversation on intersectional feminism and speaking about women of color, and how you can support, but here you are making a living off of a practice that comes from the Indian culture without honoring that culture.” So, I did not take that very well. I just released the podcast today with Susanna Bharkataki, speaking on this topic specifically. So it’s not where we’re going into the depths of with you today, but I really sat with that, being on the other end of what, for me, was a lot of aggression. A lot of anger. For me, immediately, looked like a really personal attack. There was one woman, specifically, that was kind of … It got really really really hard for me to listen. And I didn’t want to block her, I didn’t want to shut the conversation down at all, so I kind of let everything stay there. But I had to sit with the fact of, okay, how can I have this conversation while feeling like I’m under personal attack? I was trying to find a way to distinguish or to separate what I felt was a personal attack from the validity of this woman’s questions, the validity of her anger, the validity of her emotions. She has all the right to be angry. She has really important points. But it was so hard for me to listen, really. I’m just trying to be really honest saying that, because I want to listen.

Cargle: I think there’s so many white women, in my experience, and with that situation, with other situations in a million ways that people of color coming in to say, “Listen to how you’re hurting me. Listen to how we need you to support us.” I think that, like I said earlier, being called out isn’t the worst thing that can happen. If you can … You can’t. You can’t possibly imagine the kind of pain that is felt in the lives, the DNA, in the blood and the personal stories and the ancestral understandings of what people of color are going through. So I think that it’s not only fair but absolutely necessary that white people be willing to be literally just uncomfortable. It’s just discomfort. And so I think that white people really need to take a moment and say, “I can be uncomfortable, because entire generations of their identity have been not just uncomfortable, have been killed, have been raped, have been snatched away from their homes, their entire cultures have been taken away.” So I think that it’s imperative that white people begin to sit in that discomfort. We need to stop giving … As much as the effects of this are appreciated, just like when Anne Hathaway made a post about Nia Wilson back when Nia was murdered and Anne Hathaway came on and she said, “We need to start listening to black people,” then all of the sudden Anne Hathaway was like the queen of the world for caring about black people all of the sudden. We’re not giving out cookies for white people caring about us all of the sudden. This isn’t something you’re gifting us. It’s something that’s imperative.

So I think that as you continue to open your eyes to what’s happening and how the work you do is affecting people of color, and anyone else who is listening who is really starting to swallow how they have either benefited from the oppression of people of color or benefitted from colonization, benefitted from their own seat at the table of privilege from having white skin, I think it’s imperative that you both sit with that discomfort, really sit with it. Don’t just say like, “Oh, look at me, I’m being uncomfortable.” Really sit with it and say, “Wow, this is nothing in comparison to what other people have experienced.” Also, your next steps should always be to take immediate action. There’s just no room for … I don't know. There’s no room for glorifying basic humanity.

Brathen: Right, right.

Cargle: I think that’s fair for white people to call each other out on that as well, to say like, “Oh, okay, I’m glad, let’s move forward. Rachel, with the work that you’re doing, I’m really excited to see other studios follow suit, other teachers follow suit, because it’s really meaningful work. Hopefully this will be a wave in change instead of just the trickling that’s been happening lately.

Brathen: Right right. Yeah. I like to think if I would find myself in a similar situation again, that I could have a different reaction. I think it’s hard when the platform is so wide and there are so many different people engaging in conversation at the same time. I was trying to sort of immediately shift the conversation over to the blog or to articles or to the podcast, in a space where I could also listen. Because it took me a couple of days, how can I separate … In this case there was a hashtag started, #BoycottYogaGirl. There was a lot of things that, for me, didn’t feel right for me to stay in that space, because I felt like yes, it’s a big topic for sure, but I felt like it was also really personal. So, a few people, because of this, because of course other people started engaging in the conversation and came to my defense, and they thought, “But this woman is bullying Rachel, and Rachel is trying to do this work, blah blah blah.” I don’t need anyone to come to my defense, and this is my work to do, but I could also see how it was sort of an inevitable social media storm. It eventually turned into a total shit show, where there was all out racist comments in that feed, there were a lot of tone policing from left and right, and in the end this woman was fully blocked from Instagram. I don't know if she was reported because of something-

Cargle: Yeah, that’s so unfortunate.

Brathen: Yes, super unfortunate. I’ve been trying to see if someone knows her personally, if I can, through my social media kind of bring her voice back and bring her followers back to her space, but I have been unsuccessful so far. So now, I mean, this was one of the big end results I had talking about this topic on last week’s podcast was I wish I could sit with her right now, realizing that the discomfort for me, to have someone start a hashtag online, or you know … It’s very pale in comparison to the suffering that people of color experience every day and have for generations. So I have learned from this, and I’m super sorry that the situation ended that way.

[32:07] But I’m also trying to … How can I educate people that follow me that are white, that are mainly women, that really, genuinely just felt like they were coming to my defense, and here, now it’s bullying, and I can’t listen to you when you bully. Especially when there was a lot of comments in there that say, “Oh, but racism isn’t real anymore.” I’m ashamed to say this, but I saw a comment like, “Slavery has ended, can we all get on with our lives right now?”

Cargle: Girl, I have seen it all, you don’t have to tell me, I have seen every comment that can be made. These are all just ways that people try to dismiss the realities in order to make themselves more comfortable. Because there’s nothing about any news source that you could go through right now that doesn’t remind us that racism is very real and that it’s something that needs to be acknowledged and dealt with on a daily basis. The work has to be done. So these are just ways for people to easily dismiss the realities. And you know who dismisses them? People who don’t have to deal with them. Of course it’s easy for them to dismiss it, because it doesn’t affect their family or their livelihood or their bodily safety. So, I’m happy this conversation is being had, because there’s so much for everyone to learn if we’re really going to take big leaps forward.

[33:21] Brathen: And what about in this specific field? So, in the wellness field, the field of spirituality, yoga. White women that are leaders in this specific field. Do you have any specific pieces of advice for someone like me in this position of privilege that I have, doing what I do?

Cargle: I’m not an expert in the field, obviously. There’s [Layla Sayeed?], and I hope I said her last name correctly. I’m so sorry Layla if I didn’t. But she has a really great blog post right now that speaks to the spirituality and wellness community, specifically the white women within it. I’ll give that to you so that you can share it.

Brathen: I follow her.

Cargle: Oh awesome, yeah. She has a really great piece. So I think that my only real experience with women in this space was from conversations that I had based on things like a post that I recently put out, and I’ve done it a few times now. It’s always had a very interesting conversation come out of it basically saying, “Maybe you manifested it, but maybe it’s just your white privilege.” And so there’s so much that … there’s so many layers to one’s existence and one’s experience, and often in the spirituality world it gets bypassed. That’s one of the words that a conversation that has come up, spiritual bypassing, in which you’d rather deal or approach situations in a way that completely bypasses reality in order to sit into the comfort of your own personal understanding of spirituality. Just for example, a really interesting space of, like I said that post that said maybe you manifested it, maybe it’s your white privilege, there’s an entire history within the U.S. specifically in which black families literally did not have the chance to develop wealth. It was very very rare that they were able to buy a home in order to get wealth from their property, or be able to own a business. There were many laws that restricted that. So now white families are much further ahead in their ability to gain wealth than black families. So when people are saying, “Yeah, I manifested this really great life for myself,” actually, there are a lot of factors in play within the American law system, and I’m speaking for America here, but the American law system that allowed you and your family to be in a space to even launch from the pad of privilege that you’re at.

So, things like that. And really considering where spirituality crosses over with the realities of social construct. And I think that’s a fair thing for people in the spiritual world to really start considering. And then also looking at the things that are popular in the wellness world, and where those things are appropriated from. Really doing your research and not just being comfortable with, “Oh, this is how we’ve always done it.” And, “Oh, my intention wasn’t to hurt anyone.” The thing that I preach most is that intention doesn’t erase impact, and until you do the research and figure out where things are coming from and who might be affected by it, you need to do your due diligence to ensure that you’re not hurting people, regardless of what your intent is.

[36:36] Brathen: And something as … wishing someone the love and light, that’s another question that came in. How can wishing someone love and light ever be seen as offensive? I know the-

Cargle: Yeah, let me tell you … I think the way that … Well, one, it’s often very dismissive. At the end of a conversation, if there’s a very heated or very emotional conversation that has come over, often some women will say, “Well, I guess we just don’t agree. Wishing you love and light.” And they feel like that has put them in the upper hand, like, “Well I’m the good person who has now wished them love and light, so I’m ultimately giving off the best energy, which means that I’m the best person in this situation.” And love and light, I use that phrase often. I’m not against the use of the term “love and light,” but I think that it has become some type of blanketed term for “I’m a good person, so I’m going to walk away and hope that you find goodness too,” when that’s not at all the case. Many many racists sign their emails with love and light. Many many people who are very rude and very irrational sign off things with “love and light.” One way that this comes up very often is when, you know, a topic of race comes up and someone goes, “Well why can’t we just love? I choose peace, I choose to see peace. If you keep talking about negative things, then that’s the only thing that’s going to keep showing up.” No, that’s not how it works. In order for my voice to be heard, in order for me to advocate for myself, I have to bring up all of the horrible things that are happening to me, because if I don’t you’re all going to say you’re colorblind and you don’t see it and it doesn’t really happen. And so it’s a very dismissive and irrational for people to come in and say, “I don't want to talk about the pre-school to prison pipeline. Let’s just talk about love. I don’t want to talk about the irrational maternal mortality rates for black women, let’s just talk about love.” No! Talking about love is not going to erase these entire systems that are killing us or that are destroying us. So, I often say, “I want you to go into a homeless shelter and say, ‘Let’s just love our way to a new home.’ I want you go to into an orphanage and say, ‘Let’s just love your way into a new family.’” That’s not how it works. I am a huge advocate to say Love is Action. I don’t care about your words. I have a quote that has been floated around: “I don’t want your love and light unless it comes with solidarity and action.” And if your love and light means closing our ears and eyes to what’s actually happening, that’s not love and light. I’m assuming that what you mean is the truest sense of love, which means ensuring that everyone gets justice and everyone is able to live a life of dignity and opportunity.

Brathen: Thank you for sharing that. And once you have that sort of looking to these spiritual quotes, spiritual bypassing is everywhere. I mean, it’s quite literally everywhere. Maybe just in my world because I’m in the yoga world. But another quote, or something I see floating around a lot is that “Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional.” It’s very easy to say, if you just stepped off your yoga mat, but recognizing that even being able to practice yoga is a massive privilege, to have that money, that time, that ability to create it for yourself. To even do that spiritual work, we can’t do that spiritual if we’re worried about putting food on the table. It’s not possible. And a huge part of yoga is giving back and being of service.

[40:14] So, speaking from that standpoint, because that’s the questions that get normally, not just related to this conversation, but I do a lot of work in terms of wanting to be of service and giving back. So, we have several nonprofit organizations and foundations that we work with, and a lot of people that have found yoga and start to work on themselves inevitably find themselves in a place that they want to do something good. So, something that has been also quite a current topic is the topic of being a white savior, or White Savior Complex. Can we touch on that a little bit? Because some people were asking, “If I want to do something good and I’m trying to be of service, is there ever a way for that to backfire if I have good intentions?”

Cargle: Yeah, I think the topic of intentions and intent is always going to be something that needs to be discussed. And I wish I had them on me right now, but it’s a quick google search, I’m sure, that for white people to really consider why they’re doing something. Because a lot of times, and this shows up mostly in a lot of the volunteer travel trips, where white people go into brown places, brown spaces, and they go there and they’re taking pictures with kids, and they’re showing themselves doing really good work, but they’re giving no dignity to the people that they’re supposedly helping, and they’re giving no real, true service besides anything that will make them feel good about what they’re doing. So, there’s a lot of very intense and very uncomfortable self-reflection that needs to be done before going into spaces of marginalized groups and doing it to “help.” There’s lots and lots has been written on this, so there’s no lack of information on being able to gain that understanding. But I think that it all begins with really saying, “Why am I going into this specific group? Why am I going to do this specific work?” Not all volunteer work is geared directly towards black and brown spaces, so it’s not like this is something that white savior-ism, it’s something that I think everyone needs to consider as they’re going into spaces to help any type of less fortunate person, but I think that, specifically, there has been this very disgusting and uncomfortable and irrational way that volunteerism in brown countries has become more of an opportunity for photo ops and pats on the back, as opposed to doing deep research and ensuring that the work that you’re doing is truly benefitting those that you’re reaching in those spaces. So when we see pictures of blonde girls with brown kids with whatever homely situation that they’re in, it’s always very concerning. Because you think, “Would you want your child’s photo all over the internet when you’re in your worst of situations, just so that the person there could feel good about what they’re doing?” There’s so much to consider, and I think that it’s imperative that people begin to do the inside work before going out and doing things that their intentions may be good, but there’s some underlying consciousness and biases that need to be worked through, and that’s the work that people need to do.

[Commercial Break]

[45:37] Brathen: I have been contemplating a lot the energy of having an entire world of white people sitting with this discomfort. Some people addressing it, some people not, some people awakening to it now and wanting to do the work but not knowing how to. Do you think part of why this is challenging and part of why there is also this idea of, “Oh, but I help people of color, so I can’t be racist.” You think they go hand in hand with wanting to, I guess, fix or sort of step away from a place of shame for having that kind of privilege? Do you think those things are connected?

Cargle: Yeah. There’s a term for that, it’s called exceptionalism, where a person feels that they are exceptional, they are not part of the problem, and so therefore they just don’t have to sit and consider and think about these things. I think that one of the places that this shows up a lot is white teachers in urban places where they’re teaching mostly black kids will say, “Well I work with black kids every day, I can’t be racist.” But oftentimes they have these deep biases that show up in their classroom, show up in the way that they’re interacting with people. Anti-racist work is an ongoing thing. It will never be done. There’s no certificate at the end of the course. There’s no type of ribbon that you get once you get to a space of, “I’m not racist.” We live in a society that has literally been built completely on the marginalization and the oppression of brown and black people. So it is until … I say this quote often; white privilege is like a wheel. Every single white person is a spoke. One person might come off, but until the entire wheel, like everyone spinning on it, everyone is moving forward, all of the white people are continuing to progress even if some of the spokes are a little bit broken, even if someone’s a little bit woke, there’s a little bit of a tweak, there’s this wheel still spinning, and they’re still going to benefit. Until that wheel is completely dismantled, all white people will benefit from it, and all white people have to continue doing the work until this system of white supremacy and black oppression is completely dismantled.

[47:49] Brathen: My next question, you’ve answered it already, but is it possible to be racist while truly believing you are not, in your heart? So, there’s been a lot of really well-meaning, and I can really sense this … and I am the same … this urgency to show the world that “Hey, I am not racist! I believe in equality for all. We all have the same worth; everyone is worthy of the same good life.” Is it possible to be racist while truly believing in your heart that this is not the case?

Cargle: No, the direct answer is no. I think there’s a lot of this deep-seeded understanding, and it’s because of the way that it’s been taught to us or been understood by us via media outlets, that racism is white hoods and lynchings and slavery and very big grandiose actions. When we come out of the womb we are born into a racist society in which there is this immediate existence in a space where your skin color will determine a lot for you. So, there is no way, until the entire thing is overthrown, that people are going to be able to sit in a space and say, “I’m not one of the ones.” There’s no exceptionalism. But, what there is are people who are very actively and intentionally anti-racist. And I see it every day! I have tons of followers who are all doing … not all. Many are doing the work in order to progress in their anti-racism. There’s a lot of people who are continuing asking their selves the questions, continuously calling people out, continuously ensuring that they’re doing the work in their space to say, “What marginalized voices do I need to hear from?” There’s going to be a continuous need for white women to do the internal work and say, “What is it that I need to do to be actively and intentionally anti-racist?” It is not, and Angela Davis says this, “It is not ever ever enough to just say that you’re not racist. You have to be actively anti-racist.” And for us to say that that is an active thing, I don’t think anyone can ever sit in the comfort of saying, “I’m not racist.” If anything, the best you can say is that “I am a person who is actively anti-racist.”

Brathen: That’s a great, great way to answer that question. And I think going out of your way to make space for people of color, and this is something that I have not done, because I’ve been so fearful of, well, if I acknowledge that there is color, that that in itself would be racist. So, no, we’re not going to offer our trainings to a discounted price because of the color of someone’s skin, that that in itself would be racist … ignoring the fact that we’ve kind of become this institution where we’re not holding that space for women of color. So, how can I maybe stretch or step into other communities more to raise women and person of color up? And then, you know, sitting with this idea that I’m completely colorblind and inclusive of all, but if all of the people I interact with on a daily basis are all white, I haven’t made any effort to stretch across that border, and even look or even try.

Cargle: Yeah, I think it’s super important in having that understanding, it’s just so interesting, two points that I’d love to bring out of that conversation is, one, it’s imperative that people, like I said, are actively and intentionally making sure that they’re listening to other voices and they’re including them. What does your Timeline look like? What does your bookshelf look like? What does your music look like? What are your kids reading? What characters are they seeing? Who do they see as valuable? Who do they see as the hero? Who is always the villain? Really being aware of these things, but also your own internal biases of why did I feel like white people were the best people I should be listening to? Why did I feel like white people were the authority in every space, every time? And so I think that as people begin to do internal work like that, you’ll really be able to see your unconsciousness was also your bias. Your unconscious understanding was also the biases that were instilled in you and all of us because of the way that society works and the world that we were born into. And so I hope that you continue to bring in other voices, and I hope that your listeners who also have a space of authority or leadership or influence are able to say, “Wait a minute, if I’m only listening to white spaces and white voices and white experiences, there is so much that we’re missing out on.” It’s not even like a tokenizing, “We need to get a black person in here.” There’s literal genius in the millions of black people in the world, and there is so much that the world is missing out on because their voices aren’t being heard.

Brathen: A thousand, thousand percent. Because I’m not thinking about it, yet again, because I don’t have to think about it.

Cargle: Yeah, yeah.

[52:59] Brathen: It’s definitely, definitely something that won’t remain the same as I move forward. Already recognizing this and just the conversations that I’m having in my own family. My husband, for instance, he’s been his whole life in Aruba, he’s been here since he was 9 months old. His family is native to the island. He grew up sort of the only white kid in class. And that fact has sort of … I can listen to it now in conversations, “But I never had a lot of white friends growing, there’s no way I could have ever been racist, at all.” This is another question that came up a lot: “What if we have a ton of black friends?” Or a woman wrote, she’s married to a black guy, they have kids of color, she said, “It’s not possible for me to be racist.” Is it possible to be racist and live in a family of mixed ethnicity, for instance?

Cargle: So I’ve learned in my work that one of the only … the few ways that white women are able to have discussions about race is when it’s in context of the patriarchy and misogyny. So, to those people who are saying, “But I have black friends,” or, “But I’m married to a black man,” or, “I have black kids,” I am happy to tell you that horribly misogynistic men also have mothers and they have sisters and they have daughters, and they’re married to women, and they still are very shitty men who benefit from the patriarchy, and in that same way there are racist white women who are married to black men, and they have black children, and they have black friends, and they still live in white skin and they benefit from white privilege in the same way that men still benefit and are able to move through the world with the benefits of the patriarchy, even though they have wives and mothers and sisters and daughters and girls who are friends, it doesn’t make them any less of a benefit to the patriarchy as well as we, and I’m sure we can all attest to many really shitty misogynistic men who have all of those things. So, no, it is not an excuse. If anything, if you’re raising black children and you’re married to a black man, you really need to be doing the work to ensure that you’re not being complicit to a lot of the systems that are affecting them in ways that you will never know or understand simply because you’re not in black skin.

[55:32] Brathen: Yes. This is … Yeah. I can sort of already feel the social media field rattling.

Cargle: Same. [laugh]

Brathen: [laugh] With what’s going to come in after this. What I can say, from someone who had a starting point in having this conversation publicly and out loud on a big public platform, this learning curve, which it’s embarrassingly late for me, but it’s been really really quick. I’ve been able to go from, “Oh my god, like, I can’t listen to you when you’re yelling,” to, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I haven’t held this space for these conversations long long long long ago.”

[Commercial Break]

[58:15] Brathen: So, anyone listening, if anything that we’re speaking on right now sits off with you, or if it triggers you, if it makes you feel like, “Oh my god, can’t believe she said that, I have to go online now and fight this!” Yeah, what would you suggest, Rachel, I guess to not dive into reaction immediately, as a white person? Do you have any advice on how to listen even if the person we’re speaking to might be upset or angry or if it’s a challenging conversation?

Cargle: Yeah, I mean, I try to think about it in ways in which I am someone who is part of the privileged group. When I’m listening to trans people tell me their experiences, and it might make me uncomfortable or I’m like, “I have no clue what you’re talking about,” or, “That doesn’t have to do with me,” it’s really so irrational for me to be dismissive of another person telling me their experiences solely based on my own, one, comfort level, or my own understanding. You have to recognize that we all move through the world very differently. It is our responsibility, if we’re part of the movement, in order to get social justice for everyone, I think that it is our responsibility to say, “Hey, I’m here for you and I’ve declared myself someone who wants to be here for you, so tell me what I need to know in order to act better on your behalf. Because you’re the expert. I can never speak on behalf of you.” So I think that really considering … maybe the first question people need to ask is, “Am I actually an ally?” That’s the first question. If you’re uncomfortable say, wait, okay … Make the decision right now, are you an ally? If you are, that means that you need to listen. So, if you’re listening, that means you need to step out of your ego, which also is a word in the spiritual realm, a lot of saying “stepping out of your ego,” and I think it never shows up more than in a conversation about race. But to step out of your ego and your own comfort and say, “Okay, let me give this person space to express their experience in the way that my experiences are often expressed.”

Also, like I said, it sucks that white women can only really come to empathy with people of color when it’s brought in the conversation of the patriarchy, but I’m hoping that they’ll be able to frame their mind in the way that, you know, before any of you come onto my Instagram page after this podcast comes out to say, “Not all white women are like that, I’m one of the good ones,” or whatever it is that you have to say, consider how utterly annoying it would be if we had a huge conversation about feminism and then a man took the time to come over and say, “I’m really glad you felt the need to express yourself, but guess what, not all men.” It’s just irrational, and we all get frustrated by it. So really start to frame this conversation in ways that you might understand better, to give you a starting point, but then dig deeper and recognize that you need to step out of yourself and your own feelings around it in order to give space and voice to those who are demanding to be heard, because for so long we were not.

[61:30] Brathen: And what about when a conversation like this, when it sort of … I’m sure you see that a lot, if it starts to derail. Specifically on social media. I guess this is a two-part question. Do you think it is efficient to have these conversations on social media? And what do you do if things get extremely heated? Because I am… this is almost a logistical question for me. I never block people on social media. I never have … extreme cases … but I try to allow discussion to flourish, always. I haven’t seen attacks and this sort of viciousness as I did these past couple of weeks on the question of race. One, okay, the realization of, “Okay, I have a lot of ignorant people in my community.” It went from being, okay, I want to defend Rachel over here to something scary really really fast. What do you do in those cases? Is it a constructive way to talk?

Cargle: I mean, social media isn’t the only way that this information and this understanding can be consumed. I think one, and I say this to my audience all the time, you need to sit back and listen. If the topic at hand is people of color, then let people of color talk about this issue, and you sit back and listen. Also, Google is so free, and there are so many options of what you can read and what you can listen to and what you can watch that will literally give you all of the information that we’re talking about. There’s the Netflix movie “13th,” it’s a documentary about the prison system and how it relates to slavery. There’s a billion really great written pieces. Whether it’s books or articles … I have in the link in my bio, I have tons of resources that people can read through.

So, if you’re feeling uncomfortable or even angry or even frustrated, take that moment to consider whether you want to speak from a point of frustration and anger to defend yourself against more marginalized people, because that’s never a good look. Also, take that as a moment to say, “Okay, let me educate myself as deeply as possible on both sides.” Because believe me, people of color are incredibly educated on the experiences of white people, because that’s all that’s ever given. In media, in books, in everything. So, we’re speaking from a very understanding position on both our side and the side that our society is drenched with in terms of the white experience and the white understanding. If you want to be in a critical conversation, I hold people to very high expectations of education, and if you really want to dig deep with me about race, you can either listen to me, because I’m speaking as the expert here as a person of color, or you can go and read and have a deeper understanding on your own so that it can be engaging instead of reactive.

[64:27] Brathen: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. You answered that so eloquently. Yeah. I feel like … I hope that many of the people that participated in this conversation through my personal social media feed over the past few weeks get answers to their questions … Yeah, in a way that really lands. Because there were many people in those comment feeds trying to make the same points. But I mean, we all know that there’s something about social media that makes … yeah, it makes it harder when it gets heated.

Cargle: Yeah.

Brathen: It really does. But yeah, I think it’s also important that we have that conversation everywhere, right? I wouldn’t say, as a feminist, “Oh, we’re not going to talk about feminism here. It’s not an appropriate place.”

Cargle: Yeah, yeah. It’s appropriate everywhere.

Brathen: Right, everywhere is appropriate. But I think we can all choose to educate ourselves in the mediums and the forms that allow us to listen and learn the quickest. So for me, podcast is a great way. You have a bunch of podcasts that I listened to before talking to you today that were also really helpful on the topic, so I’ll be sharing Rachel’s website and everything, all of the descriptions and links and everything to this when this podcast is live.

Cargle: Awesome.

[65:46] Brathen: There’s one or two more things I want to just touch on. This was a really great question that came in, I’m going to read it as is, because she phrased it so well: “I want to support all women in any position, but I want especially to give opportunities for women to move up within my company to shatter that glass ceiling. I try all the time to be culturally and racially sensitive in making extra effort to make these opportunities happen for women of color. However, I’m wondering, is there a point where as a white woman I start to become too much help?”

Cargle: Absolutely. I think that there is a point where you could become too much help, but I think the way to eliminate that is just listen to people of color. Just listen to them. Literally sit with your employees and say, “What is it that you need to feel supported? Where is it that you’re feeling not supported? What are the ways in which you’re experiencing things that you think might be attributed to race, and really listen to them and hear them, because they’re going to be the experts in the area? I think it’s so interesting that people pull in specifically white people to come in and be, like, diversity … I don't know, like, do diversity workshops. Literally, you just have to listen to the people of color who are working for you and they will tell you everything that you need to know about how what you’re doing is affecting them, or not really giving them the opportunities that they need. So, my suggestion is to deeply invest in listening to the people of color who are working for you, and literally just ask them what they need and what they’re seeing and how they’re feeling, because they will, I promise you they’re talking about it amongst themselves, so if you just ask them to be a part of that conversation, I promise you will get whatever answers you were looking for.

[67:33] Brathen: Wow. That’s just … How interesting how many resources is brought in for this, especially in big corporations I find, instead of just having the direct conversations with the people it affects every single day.

Cargle: Yeah.

Brathen: So this next question I have is very personal, from me, and I’m hoping I don’t come off sounding like a total idiot, I almost wasn’t going to ask this but I’m going to anyway, because it’s one of the things that I know if I don’t, I’ll be left wondering. I don't know if you read this already, but I have, in the very back of my neck, back of my head, I have a braid that I have had. This was a big topic of controversy over the past couple of weeks … That I have had for over a decade, that was just once a braid, my best friend braided my hair over a decade ago and wrapped it in string, and I’ve had it since. She passed away four years ago, so it’s become one of those things that just deeply reminded me of my closest friend. And now that we’re having these conversations, and I had a photo where I sort of had my … it’s become a dread underneath it. I shared it on social media and someone said, “Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re having these conversations about race and you are sitting here cultural appropriating black culture with this braid that you have in the back of your head. Cut it off immediately.”

Again, my first reaction is like … “What?! Are you …” Like, immediate kind of gut reaction of, “No no no no no no no.” And then I realized, after sitting with it for a few days, “Oh, that’s sort of the same reaction I had when I wore a Bindi years and years ago. It was something emotional to me, and how could that be offensive?” This, for me, is something I’ve never related once to race or culture. But could me having this braid at the back of my head be appropriating black culture?

Cargle: Um, it could. I’m not a expert in dreads or braids or hair, so I would … In any situation where someone’s asking a questions like, “Could I be appropriating?” I think that you have now been called to task, to do deep research into … and by deep research I mean past page three of the google search where I’m sure there’s like lots of information on this. But I think that it’s fair, that this is a good example, and I’m interested to see your journey in figuring this out from this conversation on. But it’s important that if it has been called to your attention by a person of color who is saying, “Hey, what you have going on is a little offensive to me,” that is an immediate, you know, understanding this is worth me doing my research. And so I might have been a research for you in this moment, but I genuinely don’t know the answer to that, so I would definitely encourage you to look a little deeper into the topic of dreads. Like I said, I don't know much about it. It’s not something that I personally … My hair is completely cut off. I don’t have dreads.

Brathen: And I almost didn’t ask, I’m like, “This is going to come off sounding so stupid.”

Cargle: No, it’s totally valid, the conversation of dreads is something that’s brought up. Just in the news recently, there’s a little girl in Jamaica who her mother was told that she would have to cut off her daughter’s dreads if she wanted to send her to this specifically prestigious school, because they said it was unsanitary.

Brathen: I saw that, yeah.

Cargle: So dreads are something that are very deep to the culture of black people, so it’s absolutely worth you doing the research and coming to make a decision and maybe speak to people who do have dreads and hear what they have to say about it.

[71:20] Brathen: Yeah. And this becomes also … because this of course affects so many …. We take part of so many different cultures every single day, and this is a really big thing to sit with. It kind of posed the next question, like, “But what if I didn’t create this threat intentionally? Is that okay?” And it is, as you say, my research to continue to do, and I will. But a lot of people were asking, “Oh, wait, am I not allowed to eat sushi anymore?” Or, “Can I not enjoy listening to that music?” So, for anyone that has more deep questions on cultural appropriation specifically, and also how it relates to yoga, the podcast last week with Susanna Bharkataki explained it super well in that what brings more union and what creates less separation in that internal – and it’s absolutely an internal questioning – leads toward appreciation, not appropriation, and we have to do the work, each person, to look up and see, “Is this offending a lot of people? Is it causing a lot of separation? Am I appropriating or am I appreciating?” So, in terms of food, it’s a totally different question all together.

Cargle: Yeah.

[72:33] Brathen: But this is not easy! I’ve got to say.

Cargle: It’s not.

Brathen: And I know, also, you know that too. Putting your life on social media, it opens us up to all sorts of questioning and judgment and people giving you their opinions from left or right. So what I’m really taking home is, “Okay, if it makes me uncomfortable, chances are that there is something there, and I can only learn moving deeper into that place rather than say, ‘Hey, let’s not talk about. Let’s go somewhere else.’”

Cargle: For sure.

[73:06] Brathen: So yeah, I’m still doing that work. To close, kind of for me at least going full circle in my own research, what sparked this conversation in the first place, do you have any tangible advice, not just for me but for any person that might be in a similar position or similar space, for me the question is how can I make my Yoga Teacher Trainings, my workshops, my retreats truly accessible for women of color in an authentic way, in a way that isn’t tokenizing, in a respectful way, and actually make a difference? Do you have any advice?

Cargle: Yeah. I mean, I think the industry of yoga that has happened in Western cultures is … there’s a lot of capitalism involved. How much things cost and what’s available. So really looking, and even looking at things like what does your advertisement look like? Because I know if I see a sign with a bunch of white women, I’m probably not going to want to attend, because nothing in me wants to be in a room in which I’m intentionally the minority. So, looking at your advertising, looking at your pricing, looking at where you’re holding it at, looking at who your speakers are. Like you said, Rachel, you went into that space and was like, “Oh my gosh, there’s only two people of color.” Or, there’s no women. That’s something that we do every time. So consider what needs to be available in terms of representation and access, and just be wildly, wildly intentional. Listening. There’s so many incredible women of color who are in the world of yoga as well. Reach out to them and say, “What can we do?” Just like with the business thing. Talk to people of color and ask them what they need and they’ll tell you exactly what they need.

Brathen: Thank you for that, yeah. We are doing that. What came up for me, what was so interesting is our studio here, our local classes are so absolutely diverse. I mean, it’s really beautifully representative of the Aruban community. We have, literally, I would say great diversity in terms of local classes. But it does not look that way at all in our retreats and trainings, so there is something we’re doing different, 100%. I think a lot of it comes down to pricing. We make a huge effort to have local prices here and to make the classes really accessible for everyone, and we’re not making that same effort in retreats and trainings. So, I think it might even be work that we’re doing already locally that we can just translate to a global scale, I hope.

Cargle: Yeah, and I hope you can share whatever it is that you … what you deem as a working solution that many many other studios and trainings are able to learn and take that on and do it in their own communities.

Brathen: Yes, yes, yes. I’m going to be sharing all of this. I mean, I’ve had now two podcasts in a row on the topic of race. The next one I record is going to be more personal to me, so my own personal learnings and things that I am changing, personally, in my own outlook, and what we’re changing at the studio and in business. I’m looking forward to sharing this journey in a humble way.

Cargle: Yeah.

Brathen: So, thank you so much for choosing to hold this space for learning. This cannot be an easy role to have, and you do it so beautifully. So, thank you so much for taking your time to educate, not just me, but this whole community and everyone you touch on a daily basis.

Cargle: Thank you so much, Rachel.

Brathen: Thank you. For everyone listening, follow Rachel.Cargle on Instagram, you can go to RachelCargle.com. Rachel has amazing live webinars and lectures and great pieces of writing you can take part in to deepen your learning and understanding. And if you have questions or comments, please voice them respectfully, and let’s continue listening. Thank you so much!

[End of Episode]