The Black Girl In Om List: Rachel cargle
Interview by Chelcee Loraine. Introduction by Lauren Ash. Photography courtesy Rachel Cargle.
The Awakened Activist
Rachel teaches. Teaches us to be braver. Teaches us to remember. Teaches us to stand tall not just in our yoga studios, but everywhere. Because we are worthy. Donned “the Beyonce of Academia,” Rachel is studying at Columbia University, but we are ready to give her a doctorate already. Picking up the charge to create the change you want to see in the world, she has. With millennial, Black Girl Magic swag sauce: like #FriendCareFriday and the GoFundMe that we all need ($135k and counting). With over nearly 200k followers and an always active comment section, Rachel is certainly sharing so much of herself and her lovingly critical perspective and wisdom, and yet: she knows that self-care matters. Enjoy her thoughts on rest, finding your voice, and our current political climate. And then keep up with her at @Rachel.Cargle.
You've been an activist, truth-speaker, and unapologetic voice for some time now. But when did this spark start? How did you know this was the work you were called to do?
I think as a black woman I have always been inclined to be very vocal about what existence looks and feels like at this intersection of race and womanhood but my deep dive into doing this work publicly was ignited after the 2016 election. It was then that not only was there an emphasized risk in this country for black and brown communities but also a very clear picture of the complacency on behalf of the feminist movement. I couldn't let either of those things go. I stepped into a space of using my voice, my words and my actions to fight for what I knew were the truths of this country. I very quickly gained an audience of over 100k and I took that very rapid growth and intensive expansion as a sign from the ancestors that I had stepped into a space that I was destined to be.
Activism is not not light work, though it calls the light out. What keeps you rooted as you do this work? Do you have a few wellness/ self-care go to practices?
Rest. This work is exhausting on a hundred different levels. Our rest must be layered as well. Sometimes my rest comes in the most obvious form of sleep — I try to keep a solid schedule and I deeply value my mornings with the sunrise. But also rest can be mental in ways like zoning out with a good fiction novel or favorite sitcom -- letting more critical things to the side for a while. For me, rest also looks like stepping back from environments where critical discourse is expected and just laughing deeply with my girlfriends. Giving my mind and body space to just BE and not BE ON is my continuous practice of rest.
You critique and help try to form better allyship with white feminism. Why do you feel this is so important?
As someone who identifies as a feminist, I began to really dig deep into the movement to educate myself so that I could show up fully. I realized quickly that feminism had incredibly racist roots that had to be both acknowledged and uprooted before the movement could be truly effective. I decided to teach everything I'd learned in an attempt to really engage women and feminist of all backgrounds to ask themselves "Have I truly been here for ALL of us" This question hits hard with white women who have a history of choosing their whiteness over their womanhood. My work is holding a mirror up and demanding that an honest conversation and a critical evaluation be done at this intersection of race and womanhood.
What was one of your biggest struggles in doing this work and how did you rise above it?
One of my biggest struggles was finding my voice. But not only finding it but owning it! As my audience continued to build, I found my voice getting shaky wondering if I was putting out something meaningful enough to maintain the platform that had grown so quickly around me. As I continue to write and lead conversations around difficult things I'm slowly but surely coming to remember a truth I try to be aware of often as delivered by the amazing Alice Walker: We are the ones we've been waiting for.
For your 30th birthday, you celebrated by starting a GoFundMe to benefit women of color seeking therapy. How did you this come about and how did others rise to the occasion?
When I started going to school again last year I was finally able to start going to therapy consistently. As I moved into this new rhythm of self-care through professional support I was seeing shifts and healing that I know every one of us deserves. And as my work is very rooted in race, I was on the front lines of seeing how black women are continuously faced with racially charged traumas in conjunction with all the other burdens women, in general, must bear emotionally. I was so damn grateful for the opportunity to get this type of care and support and for my birthday I wanted to gift that opportunity to other black women in this country. Black women and girls deserve healing. I wanted to be a part of that solution.
What would you say to others who are feeling overwhelmed by this current political climate?
Particularly to women of color, I would say that everything we are witnessing is nothing new. We have ancestors —generations before us who fought this fight just as we are. Dogs, Water Hoses, Arrests — Our people have seen it all and we continue to see it today. We are not alone in this continued push forward. Ages of bold, passionate black men and women before us will continue to light our paths
Initiatives such as #FriendCareFriday, is one way I see joy and community in what can often feel like overwhelming times. How did this come about and what was your intention?
Before moving to NYC, I had spent a few years in DC where I was surrounded by close friends who I would see often and was able to show my love and care often. I really missed being able to do that so one day I venmo'd them all a few dollars and said "coffee on me". In just that little act was so much love and connection and meaningful intention to show care. I challenged my social media to do the same with their friends and its been creating waves of acknowledgment, appreciation and just plain love every since.
What is the most powerful lesson you've learned about healing the feminine mind, body, and soul?
Getting aware of and in tune with my natural cycles has been instrumental in facilitating my own healing in all of those areas. Recognizing nuances about myself like how I become sad once the days get short in the colder months, so I’m booking a beach trip early January because I know I’ll need it. Also, keeping tabs on the way I need extra rest for my body around the beginning of the month and managing my schedule accordingly. This type of self-awareness has been a source of radical self-love.
What is your advice to other WOC when it comes to expanding their vision/ purpose?
I think sometimes our biggest hurdle is the imposter syndrome that comes with pursuing the big bold dreams we have. We can get deterred from our vision with irrational thoughts that we aren't enough, or don't deserve, or have tricked everyone into thinking we can do something so meaningful. My hope is that every woman of color realizes that not only does she have everything it takes to birth the dream that was planted in her but the world surely does need it. We are waiting with bated breath for your bloom. click to tweet
Is there one area of your life where you are calling in an energy of expansion? And how might others support you in this?
I have been craving more off-screen, face to face human connection around the hard topics. I have been pining for critical discourse over coffee as opposed to behind screens. I need this type of interaction, we deserve this type of community gathering and collective healing. We all can support each other in this by continuing to show up!
Receive something meaningful from this phenomenal woman? These 20 black women embody our mission fully. And their journeys over the past year illuminate what it means to root to rise. Share with us on social how you plan on doing the same in the year to come. #BGIORootToRise