September 3, 2020
EP. 22 — Rachel Cargle
Public academic, author, and lecturer Rachel Cargle joins Jameela to unpack white feminism, processing the pushback Rachel receives online, their own journeys with feminism and race, choosing not to have children and being a @richauntiesupreme , cultural stigmas around therapy, and Rachel’s work with The Great Unlearn and The Loveland Foundation.
22 — Rachel Cargle
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to another episode of “I Weigh” with Jameela Jamil. I hope you’re right. I’m OK. I’m a bit discombobulated because I’ve gone back to proper work as an on camera, massive soundstage, 200 members of crew type work. It wasn’t 200 members, but they were sort of scattered around this giant production. And so, you know, they kept by all the regulations and I had to have about 15 Covid tests and all of the day’s coming up to filming. But I feel so odd being out of my house and I really just don’t know how to respond to anyone. And it feels so weird ’cause everyone’s in like hazmat gear and they’re just sort of spraying everything you touch. And it’s a, it’s anxiety inducing. And also there is just the fear of, oh, shit. Do I remember how to do any of this? I barely know how to dry my hair anymore cause I’ve just been such a, you know, dirty little scumbag for for six or seven glorious months. And I was really getting comfortable in lockdown. And so to now have to go out and adult again just feels terrible. And so I was, I was filming this huge show with one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and it was very cool. It’s gonna be out in a couple of months, but I walked on and I was just so out of place and just taking everything in and trying to figure out how am I going to remember how to do this, how am I going to remember how to be on camera? I’m a hermit. This, I mean, these podcasts are really the only thing that I’ve done. So you guys have been my salvation. You’re the only reason I’m still, I can’t even say the words now, I’m still able to carry a sentence. But I walked in and all these people are around. And you just feel like you’re in outer space. And I’m looking at this pop star and she’s sitting beautifully poised on this gorgeous stage. The decorations are amazing and the stage is enormous. And I don’t realize that she’s sort of surrounded by a six feet wide and six feet deep entire moat that just goes around her entire stage, because obviously that would look very beautiful on camera. But because I wasn’t concentrating, because I wasn’t thinking, I, in my rush to go over and greet her. My anxiety. I didn’t notice that I was about to step into all of the water and so fully dressed in the only outfit that I had. I, I just stepped straight into the moat and got my entire outfit and self soaked, everything apart from my hair. And because I had no other clothes, I just had to sit and do the entire filming soaking wet. Once I had been extracted like a small cat from this sort of pool that was around us. So that felt as terrible as humanly possible. Classic me, classic me to be soaking wet and just make such a twat out of myself. The second I walk in, first big day of work. What a great confidence boost. But yeah, feels odd. So if you too are feeling like you have devolved during this pandemic, then you are not alone. I’ve picked up zero new skills. I have just lost skills. Definitely social skills. So we’re in this together. We’re adaptable. We’ll get there in the end. But humaning feels ridiculous. Anyway. So that was my shit week. I am very happy to bring you a chat with one of my favorite humans on the Internet. Her name is Rachel Cargle. She is an unbelievable activist, an educator and speaker and writer. She is someone who has taught me so much about the experience of black women in America and misogynoir and the true history that we don’t read about in our history books of her culture, of that journey over to the United States and what the current systems of aggressions and microaggressions are. I’ve been following her for maybe three or four years and we’ve been friends for most of that time. We became friends over Skype after having spent a lot, a lot of time DMing each other, many years ago. And she’s been a great ally and she’s such an example to me of how much women can hold each other up because she and I are supporters of one another and we are there to hear each other out when one of us is going through something, ’cause activism is bloody hard and also can be such a weirdly competitive space. So to find other women who recognize what you’re going through, who recognize when you are facing hardship or lies or smear campaigns, which both of us are subjected to, especially as women of color, it, it’s such a relief. She’s so cool and just so eloquent. And there’s something so poetic about the way that she talks. And she’s just, she’s just magic. And I feel so lucky to be able to have her on this podcast. She has all these great resources that you can find online, and I really want you to follow her. She’s called RachelCargle, so it’s just at Rachel Cargle. And she’s got a bunch of other Instagram accounts that are also education platforms. I truly think. And I feel like this happens so rarely. That she’s going to be someone who we remember for the rest of time, who we quote forever. She’s kind of up there as one of those great thinkers. And so she came on to talk to me so openly about her life, her journey, her existence as a black woman in America, what racism feels like, where white women, and this isn’t an attack on white women, but where white women can step up as allies and can be careful of their own internalized misogyny. And be careful of their own micro-agressions. This is definitely a learning episode. And we are in no way ever trying to hurt anyone or otherize anyone. We’re just trying to make sure that we all have these important and difficult conversations. And we also talked, which I love, about her joyful proclamation that she doesn’t wish to be a mother. And she has this Instagram account, which is for women who have decided not to have children. They’re just gonna be fun aunts to their friends and their relatives’ kids, and instead spend that money and time on their own adventures. And so you should do whatever you want in this life. But the abundance of joy when she talks about it is just so fun. It’s such a great Instagram account. I just can’t wait for you to meet her. So I’m going to shut up and just let you listen to the icon herself, Rachel Cargle. It’s only Rachel Cargle on my bloody podcast. Hello.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:06:46] Hi.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:47] Welcome to “I Weigh”.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:06:49] Thank you. Finally.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:50] I know it’s taken us a while.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:06:51] This was a long time in the making.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:06:53] You and I have known each other a while now. I think we’re going on two years. Did we?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:06:58] Where are we going for our anniversary, Jameela?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:01] I know, I know. I mean, we met on the Internet. So this is perfect for us to be doing this over Zoom. Although I wish you were here. I would love to hang out with you in person. But I believe you and I had some sort of a Skype two years ago. Kind of like a first date.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:07:16] Oh yeah. That was our first date. I remember now.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:07:19] Yeah, we’ve been in love ever since. Rachel, you have been truly one of the most illuminating follows I’ve ever been lucky enough to stumble upon. I cannot tell you how much I have learned from you, how much inspiration I have drawn from you, how much you’ve taught, not only me, but also so many of my friends. And this is long before the last couple of months where I think millions, millions of people have found your voice. But for years now, you have been a source of pulling no punches, of maintaining such sturdiness in your stance and just being so factual and educational. And unlike most people I’ve ever seen on the Internet so I just want to start off by saying anyone who is not already following Rachel Cargle, do it. She has about 45 brilliant Instagram accounts, all of which I will list under this podcast. And, and she’s just one of the truly wonderful speakers and educators around. Rachel, thank you so much for giving me your time. ‘Cause I know that this is such a-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:08:24] Thank you for that incredible introduction. Please just follow me around. Go in front of me and introduce me to people.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:08:31] As I lay rose petals at your feet. But I’m serious. So much of where I draw might, yeah, there are times where I get told that I’m too much or I’m, I’m being too brazen or I’m st-, like sticking out too much or I’m not being soft enough in my ability to, not in my ability, in my attempt at holding people to account. I look back to your work and look at the dignity and strength with which you hold your own. And it, it reaffirms my belief and my own right to stand up for myself. And I think that’s why-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:09:08] I hope that’s how my work translates to everyone who follows me. I hope that they’re able to see a reflection of standing proud in the ways that people find us abrasive. But it really isn’t so much abrasiveness, just like you said, holding each other and ourselves and others accountable for how we’re all existing together. So I’m so happy to hear that that’s how my work translates to you. It gives me hope that it translates to other people that same way.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:35] For sure. I loved a post that you put up recently that just said if my work makes you feel uncomfortable, then good.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:09:44] Good. Yeah, I’m glad. Great. I had a successful day then.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:09:47] So will you introduce the audience who may not yet be aware of you as to what it is that you do?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:09:54] Yeah, I am a public academic and author and an activist. My work really centers right now at the intersection of race and womanhood. I’ve been doing this work for several years now and it’s been a journey of figuring out how I personally exist in the world as someone who is both black and a woman. And looking at the ways that those too often clash are often combined in various forms of social injustice. And so I do my work through writing. A lot of it is on Instagram posts. I found social media to be such a powerful platform to teach and to learn and to find community of people who are willing to show up together for things that they believe in. And so I do a lot of writing. I’m also, I also do a lot of lecturing. So before the pandemic happened and when we were able to be out in the world, I was a public, I do a lot of public lecturing. So I would go out to places like yoga studios, yoga studios, community centers, churches, and even sometimes on college, university, on college campuses, in order to give lectures that I would develop and teach myself to the public and people who are willing to come and listen and learn alongside me. And so my work just exists in a lot of equally creative ways, as well as critical ways. And I find a lot of value in being able to work in those areas.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:11:21] And one of the areas in which I think your work first stood out to me was your conversation around white feminism specifically. And I had not yet seen a lot of conversation around that. It’s now something that everyone is talking about and everyone is using a lot of the same language that you’ve been using for years and talking about doing the work and, and reading all of the books and, and learning the history and unlearning the things that are toxic and dangerous about our own thinking. But, you know, I think the way that I came up through feminism and I came up through feminism late in life, I was a little toxic, misogynist until well into my 20s and had no idea. And I, my journey through feminism was kind of just thinking, oh, it’s all just women as one. We are a monolith and it’s us versus men. And men are the only oppressors. And I had never thought into, until I was maybe 26, 27, about the intersections of feminism. I’d never even really separated my own feminism as a woman of color from that of white women or of black women. In fact, I used to think that my plight was the same as black women because we were of color. ‘Cause we shared melanin in our skin. And, and it’s only really been much to my embarrassment in the last couple of maybe four or five years that I’ve understood that there is a stark difference in all of our experiences and the way that you have developed so many courses and talks around unpacking white feminism is something that is so important. And I, to me, it doesn’t come across as a way in which you are attacking anyone. I know sometimes you receive very intense pushback and it looks really exhausting online from white women who feel very attacked by your work. But I believe you are just trying to educate people to bring out the best in all of us so we can kind of win this general war against misogyny, but by building each other up at the same time. Will you talk to me a bit about how one would unpack white feminism, like how as a white woman who might be listening to this show, what are the first things that they should be looking out for in themselves that they may not have realized before coming across your work?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:13:24] Yeah, well, I came to the conversation specifically of white feminism because I had a photo that went viral after the Women’s March and I, that kind of put me into a position where people were interested in hearing my voice about the feminist movement, about my own personal feminism. And as I continue to kind of go into these spaces, I recognized that there were so many ways that feminism wasn’t taking account my blackness and the realities of being a part of the black community in America, in particular. And so I started studying and I started learning and unlearning and figuring out all of what I call these murky waters. I would have to swim through in order to ever even think that I could get to the island of intersectionality. And those murky waters were full of the ways that black women were dismissed or undercut, even things like the suffragettes who were working for women to get the right to vote. They made black women march in the back of the line during their own protest. They did things like, you know, while they were out campaigning to get the right to vote, they were speaking to the people who had power, the only people had power at the time, which was white men. And, you know, they’re quoted the suff-, the leaders of the suffragettes are quoted saying things like, you know, if you give us the right to vote, we will uphold white supremacy. So they were very aware of what their position was with both race and gender as well. And so when I started to realize all of these things that were hiding underneath our tight pink, needy, like really vibrant feminist flag.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:15:03] Floral. Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:15:03] Yeah. Feminist flag, underneath that were all of these layers of racism. And I couldn’t ignore it. And the only way that I felt I can move forward is if I began to teach what I was learning. And as I did that, I really built this platform of people who were willing to engage in this very critical conversation in order to create a feminist movement that we could all be a part of and hold value and see the truth of each person and be held accountable for the things that happened in the past. And so that’s how I came into the space of white feminism and the ways that I teach it in my expectations of particularly the white women who are learning from me. I teach from, I teach and do workshops and lecture from a framework of knowledge plus empathy plus action. And there’s really no way that you can show up as an ally to any marginalized group, but particularly in this space of looking at white feminism and how it plays into the race conversation in America without really hearing the voices of black people. This is how the knowledge part plays in, because so much of what we understand about the world is written through the white gaze, its white authors, its white teachers, its whiteness that has given us the lens through which we view the world. And until we start getting a lens that looks different than whiteness, we won’t have a true understanding of what someone’s plight might have been. And so knowledge is the first part of this learning experience because you have to start listening and learning from the people that you’re hoping to be an ally from. It’s not going to be a, you know, Huffington Post article written by a white girl talking about, you know, her black neighbor. You have to be listening directly to black people and learning directly from their experiences to give you the most authentic and true version of what you say you’re trying to support. And then the next part is empathy. And this isn’t, this is what I call a radical empathy. It’s not the type of empathy that says like, oh, I’m so sorry that’s happening to you. I see you. I hear you. Love and light. Like it’s not that type of passive empathy. I call it radical empathy because it’s an empathy that both says, I see you and I’m going to hold my, myself accountable for how I play into your pain. So it’s really causing people to think critically, not just about, not just seeing, oh, that person is hurt, but how did I play a part in how they may be hurting? And this is really important, looking at white feminism, because a lot of times white women completely dismiss the ways that white womanhood plays into the structural racism, the institutional racism that happens in America, because they think that they can’t, that they don’t realize that they can both be oppressed within the patriarchy and the oppressor within the conversation of race. Because if we look back in American history, even the first type of property white women were able to own was black people as slaves. That’s the first type of property they were able to own. And so there is no way to separate the whiteness of being a woman from the horror of what whiteness has done overall. And then the action part, and the action part comes into play in a million different ways. There are so many ways that you can show up for the black community, so many ways that you can ensure that the act, that the, that your daily, your day to day going about isn’t going to play into all of these ways that America has racism, you know, put into the fabric of this country from our school system to our justice system to the way that things are portrayed in media, to the, you know, wondering what books on your bookshelf. There are so many ways that we can show up in the voting booth in the way that we’re raising our children, in the way that we hold our family members accountable at the dining room table. There are all of these things that are actionable items that don’t just let the understanding of what’s happening in the world sit in your mind, but it plays out in how you move into the world and the ways, and the way that I teach this is that anti-racism work is not self-improvement work for white people. It’s not a time for them to feel better about themselves and how they’re existing in the world. Anti-Racism work is not over until black people’s lives are proven to matter, until these systems are completely eradicated that are racist in their very nature. And so it’s a continuous showing up, a continuous doing the work, continuous waves not just be-, in the words of Angela Davis, not just being not racist, but being actively anti-racist.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:19:32] And also, you know, you talk about, which I love the fact that you don’t have to have a big platform publicly in order to be an effective activist and someone who is effectively anti-racist. Will you list the ways in which someone who has maybe 16 followers or no Instagram account whatsoever, how they themselves can participate in anti-racism?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:19:55] Well, I mean, it’s in that knowledge. It’s getting the knowledge, it’s reckoning with yourself, with that empathy and then finding ways to show up, if it’s calling someone out, if it’s how you need to vote, if it’s-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:06] Your family members. If it’s at school.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:20:07] Your family, calling out your family members. Yeah. It’s you know, Jameela, it’s so hard because I get questions all the time. And the reason why I can’t answer your question directly.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:16] Yeah, of course.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:20:16] Is because in my, in my experience, white people say, oh, Rachel, what can I do? And I literally say, oh, well, here’s one or two things. And then they’ll literally do those two things and be like, well, I did what Rachel Cargle told me to do. And so it’s a very, it’s a very individualized jour-, I hate to say journey, but it’s a very individualized journey to say, how am I going to show up? Like, just because I didn’t hang someone today doesn’t mean that I’m not racist. It means that there are other ways that I have to show up as someone who is benefiting from a system that traditionally in its fabric has oppressed black people. And what do I need to do to flip that system on its head?
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:20:52] For sure. The only reason I ask that particular question is just because of the specific portion of it that relates to those who are very young or who will never be someone who is famous or in the public eye. Specifically just to those people, if like there is so much you can do that doesn’t even involve going out to a march that doesn’t involve the retweet or it doesn’t involve the things that will kind of get you applause from other people who will see that you are-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:21:14] Absolutely.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:15] Externally not an, not a racist. There are so many things that you can do just, I mean, if you are too young to vote, there are ways that you can educate your parents who can vote or your grandparents, all these people around you and your community. There is so much you can do just on the ground level that if all of us did it, I called it brick by brick activism, that if all of us would participate on that, even just on our, in our periphery around us, we would completely change the world and we would do it so fast. It’s actually the lack of affect and I guess the people just thinking, well, you know, I’m just little old me, so I’m not going to bother because what difference can I make? You can make a huge difference even just changing one person-, sorry go on.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:21:54] Yeah. Social media has completely skewed our understanding of influence.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:21:59] Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:21:59] When we consider the word influence, I think our minds go to social media and it goes to influencer. And this idea that only a few select people in the social media world are the ones making a difference and are the ones who get to shift society and shift opinion and shift knowledge. And while the role of influencers is absolutely clear in our society now, it doesn’t change the fact that the word influence does not mean 10k plus followers. The word influence means the way that one person to another affects the way they move through the world. And that could be a parent to child, that can be classmate to classmate, that can be one person to their local school board. There’s a million ways that you are individually an influencer to the people in your world. And your platform is not a social media platform. Your platform is your kitchen table. Your platform is your church. Your platform is literally the spaces in which your voice is heard. And you have those spaces everyday and you get to decide how you show up in those spaces with your intention to be anti-racist.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:02] Yeah, your anti-racist footprint. I think if you’re alive and breathing, then you can be helpful. I wanted to just touch a little bit further on what you was talking about with the history of white women, because I think one of the big arguments that we are still seeing even today, even after everything that’s happened over the last couple of months, is just why do I have to be held responsible for the crimes of my ancestors when I’m not participating in that? I buy Beyoncé’s records. Why do I have to pay for what they’ve done? And it’s like something that I’ve seen you say many times in many places because you get asked about this a lot. And so I won’t make you repeat it, which is the fact that until you yourself as a black woman are no longer having to pay for what happened to your ancestors at the hands of their ancestors, you’re going to be holding them accountable to do the work, to make sure that they are responsible for what’s happened as well, because they are still benefiting actively.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:23:50] Yes. That’s the reality.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:23:51] From a system that was built on the backs of your ancestors.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:23:54] That’s the reality. They’re still benefiting from it. And they’re still, and like you said, this goes into the understanding of knowledge that these things are still trickling down into my generation. So just one very small example is considering wealth, considering the land. So a lot of people, their wealth is resting within the land that they own, the property that they own, the houses that they own. For so long, black people couldn’t own houses in America. We weren’t able to get land. We weren’t able to deal with the racism that would push us out of spaces. And so if we just think of wealth and it’s so funny, I make a post often that gets a ton of pushback is maybe you manifested it, but maybe it’s white privilege. And it’s critical, it pushes people to consider critically how they got to the space they got and how race plays into it. Did your family have a slave plantation in which black people built the majority of your wealth and then that wealth was hoarded within the property that you owned and then your houses were, you know, passed down generation to generation and now you all of a sudden have a wonderful generational wealth that’s able to put you through college. And now you think that the, you know, New York City apartment that your father pays the rent for while you go to NYU is a result of manifestation. But it’s really a result of the generational wealth that has been passed on through generations. That originally was built on the backs of black people. And the descendants of those slaves who did build that white family’s wealth, that, a lot of times they are just now, in 2020, first generation college students who are finally able to go to school and have more of an opportunity. So there’s all of these realities of American life that are rooted in what this nation was founded on, which is white wealth and free black labor. And that was constantly translated into various forms, whether it was Jim Crow or segregation, police brutality, industrial prison complex. Everything is connected and we need to recognize that, be held accountable and do what we can do to flip completely, break down a system that was never built for the livelihood of black people in America.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:08] For sure. You said once that until white women come to terms with the fact that they oppress black people just as much as men oppress them, there will be no progress. And that just went through the Internet like a lightning bolt.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:26:19] Yeah, I think it’s a tough pill to swallow for white women to consider the fact that they can both be oppressed and oppressors, but we all, we all exist in that space. You know, people who, you know, are a ful-, who don’t have a disability, that, we, if we’re not actively looking around and saying, why isn’t this place accessible? Even if we aren’t dealing with the inaccessibility, we need to be allies and consider it. And if we’re not, then we’re being a part of a system that’s complacent and not ensuring that people with disabilities have full access.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:26:52] Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:26:52] So we, it’s, it’s a pill that we all have to swallow, that we can both be, that we can both be oppressed and the oppressor. And it is particularly seen, I have viewed it and seen the results of it being a particularly difficult thing for white women to swallow as it applies to race.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:27:11] How the fuck do you deal with the pushback you get online? Because I get angry for you sometimes with the just sheer ignorance that comes on to your page. And it is often from, and again, this is not us trying to bash white women. This is just trying to hold people accountable. And in fact, it’s not only white women who, who participate in this on your feed, but people, what do you find to be the thing that most often people will, I don’t know, I’m going to say, quote unquote, “clap back” against you for, that you find the most frustrating?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:27:43] I think it’s it’s just that they think it’s an attack, which is really silly, because especially in this world of feminism, we’re constantly holding men accountable. And white women seem to understand the concept of holding men accountable. To say, like, I get that you weren’t part of the founding fathers who made this patriarchal decision to do X, Y, Z, but still, you’re getting paid more than me when you shouldn’t. Because, just because you’re a man and I’m a woman. So you need to be part of the solution. If I was to say that, then they’re like, yes, men, they get it. They understand the role men play. But the moment I switch it into a race conversation, all of that clarity goes out the window and all of a sudden it’s rocket science and something they don’t understand. And they are completely hurt by the fact that I would even bring up race and the ways that they play into it. And so I think the most frustrating part is that I see so many white women who claim to be feminists and understand that oppression dynamic, but they refused to apply the same exact things to race. And I give. There was one post that I make that gives many examples of this in the same ways that it’s absolutely absurd that in the case of sexual assault, for us to ever ask what the girl was wearing, because it doesn’t matter what the girl was wearing, it doesn’t matter, I don’t care if she was butt naked, that still doesn’t constitute her deserving to be sexually assaulted. And that also plays into race. So when we see a black man who has been a victim of police brutality and they asked, well, did he have weed in his pocket? Was drugs part of his past? I don’t care if he had a trap house on his back while he was running down the street from the police. Like that doesn’t mean that he deserved for the one white cop to be both the jury and the judge and kill him in the street for what he assumed he had done. And so for, there’s these very clear translations between the understanding of feminism and the understanding of anti-racism work that it’s drives me crazy when white women can’t make that connection or refuse to, I should say.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:29:47] I’ve never heard someone put it like that so fucking, it’s so clear. And I’m going to use it explain it every time I see these frustrating examples. For anyone who would like to participate in watching Rachel educate people. She has, it’s called “The Great Unlearn”. I’m correct. I’m following it.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:30:06] Yes. I have a, I have an online learning platform called “The Great Unlearned”. It’s on Patreon, Patreon.com/TheGreatUnlearn. And it’s basically a dona-, donation based and self paced learning experience. And my favorite part of it is that I bring in experts from academe and I bring them in to teach on these issues that we’ve always understood from a white gaze. So some of our first, some of our first-. So I post the syllabus every month and the syllabus is a collection of things people can read, things people can write. Or things people can read, they can watch and they can listen to. So articles, podcasts, documentaries, videos, just to give a clear introduction to a subject. So one of our first, and one of my favorite, was the conversation of like the idea of race. Where did this concept of race come from and how did we even get there? And we bring in a black expert who usually is within the space of academia, as I said, and I bring them in to teach us. And we get this really incredible experience of learning directly from someone who has, who refuses to use the white gaze as a barometer for understanding the world. And so it’s… it’s just an incredibly eye opening experience. And it’s called “The Great Unlearn”, because it really is an opportunity to reimagine what we understand about the world outside of the colonial concept of whiteness.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:36] All of my white friends follow “The Great Unlearn” now.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:31:40] Awesome.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:31:40] And have lost so much about their own, often so, such accidental micro-aggressions. And so, like, just kind of inherent, they’re not even aware of them. They can’t see them. And it has completely changed their vocabulary and the way they communicate with women of color and black women. And so thank you for that. I hugely recommend people follow it, because the way that Rachel will even, not only introduce us to great educators, but also will sometimes break down her discourse with someone who will maybe push back against her and, and write something down in a way that they think they are defending themselves or people who look like them. And Rachel will just very academically breakdown, I would say just you academically and factually break down their language, the coding in that language. And you kind of do it almost like a teacher. You have a red pen that you circle the words that are problematic. And you write number one. Number two. Number three. Number four, the you break it down in the post. And it’s, I just haven’t seen anyone educate people like that clearly and in a way where we can just all learn together. It’s so beneficial and so cool. So definitely follow that. How did you get into work as an activist? What drew you to this? Because this is hard work. This is emotionally taxing and exhausting, but ultimately, I’m sure, fulfilling work.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:32:53] Well, I always say that I did, I mean, I have 1.9 million followers right now, and probably 70 percent of them are white women. And I always say, like, this must be the work that has been passed down to me from my ancestors, because nothing about my daily life was a call for white women to come listen to me talk about race. Like nothing in me was this a plan of how I was going to show up in the world. And so I truly believe that this is just part of my life’s work that I was supposed to be doing. And I kind of got thrown into it. And then I feel like I was just given all the tools and the learning and the understanding and the gifts that I have in order to show up in the way that I needed to show up. And like I said, it started when that photo went viral and I started to kind of be looked to as someone who could add to the conversation of race and feminism. And then it just turned into this community of people who were ready to listen and ready to learn and ready to insist on being anti-racist instead of just not racist. And I really say I, I teach as I learn. I am in no way an expert, like just like you. I grew I, I wasn’t like the best little black feminist growing up. There is so much about my childhood that skewed my understanding of the world. I was the only black girl growing up in an all white neighborhood in a small Ohio town. I was the only black girl, you know, on my soccer team and my Girl Scout troop, in the classroom. And so I had so much ingrained racism within me because of how I existed in the world. And the only thing I understood, most of what I understood, was through the white gaze that I was existing in with my schools and my neighborhood and things like that. And so it’s been-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:34:44] Did that make you? Did that change like the way that you felt about your body or your features or your hair or your background?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:34:49] Oh, for sure. For sure. There’s, there was, there were always so many questions about why I was different or what made me different or, and it wasn’t diff-, I was always a fairly confident girl. But there were these little micro-aggressions and these little slights that made it clear that there was something about me that didn’t put me at the same standard or level as the white girls around me. And the one example that I talk about often is that, you know, in middle school, when we start liking, you know, getting interested in romantic partners and there was a boy that I liked and everyone was getting a boyfriend or girlfriend and they were kind of writing each other letters and sitting next to at lunch and it was, you know, the, it consumed all of our days, figuring out who was dating who. And I was fairly liked as, you know, in school. I wasn’t like a nerd, I mean, I guess I was nerdy, but I was, I was fairly well known and well liked within my school. And I-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:35:49] Alright, no need to brag. I wasn’t very popular. Rub it in. Great, we get it. You were popular. You’re great. Everyone still loves you.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:35:58] No. I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t at all popular. But I wasn’t, I didn’t have any horrible bully situations.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:07] Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:36:07] But I felt pretty confident, like, oh, OK. Well, let me see what boy I want to date. And there was a boy that I liked and who we had flirted with. I guess I had assumed, I had assumed there was some social cues that he was giving me. And I’m very, sorry, hold on.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:21] It’s probably some more of her friends. Her popular high school friends, knocking at the door, can’t keep away from her for half an hour. Before all your friends came knocking at your door to tell you how much they love you. Finish the story. OK, so the boy, you think the boy fancies you. Is this a white boy?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:36:44] Yes, it was a white boy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:36:46] OK.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:36:46] So I, I yeah, I guess I’m taking social cues and assumed that he likes me back. And so I, with all of my confidence, walked up to him and I said, can I be your girlfriend? Or whatever people ask, I don’t even know what I said, but I know that I insisted that we date. And I remember he looked at, he looked at me. And by the way, that’s been me my whole life. I never stopped walking up to people and insisting we date. But he, he looked at me and he’s like, Oh, Rachel, I like you, but I can’t date you because you’re black. And I just remember being so confused about how that played into our love, but also just. But also, like in my gut, knowing like, oh, I get it. And that’s the sad part of it. That little me knew that that was probably the case. Or that like, oh, OK, I get it. And so those types of things absolutely played into me having exposure to ways that my race was clearly going to be an issue for me in relating to the people around me, for sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:37:55] You’ve spoken to me before and you’ve spoken online about how now as an activist and as a grown woman, a woman who is, who is in love with her blackness and in love with her history and her past and the way that she looks and her body and the way that you enjoy yourself is something that I think we need to see so much more of on the Internet. And I love the fact that you shared that part of your life with us, as well as the academia and the activism. But you say that you listen to your inner child a lot now, as an adult, you’re trying to reconcile that little girl with who you are now to draw guidance from her. And I think that’s really beautiful. And it’s something that I think I’m only starting to come to terms with in myself. Can you explain that to us?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:38:42] Yeah, I mean, there was so much boldness in who I personally was as a child. I was like very confident, very curious, very like bold in exploring the world and what I, what I believed I deserved as a little girl and what I like had so much excitement for in life. And I pull from her a lot. Not just the younger girl that I was when I was maybe seven or eight who had all of this exuberance in the world, but also just who I was, you know, six years ago when I moved to New York and was interested to see what I was capable of. And I found out and I was willing to do everything and explore every way that I could show up in the world. And so, and I know that our younger selves aren’t always a space of inspiration for people. Maybe that was a very trauma-filled child, or maybe that was a child who you, who some people might not be able to connect with due to the circumstances. I think there’s something incredibly healing about making a connection with our younger selves and getting the chance to parent ourselves in a way that we weren’t parented. Or be a friend to ourselves in the way that that we didn’t have friends or be the big sister that we didn’t have. And so it’s just been a really healing exercise. And as I continue to share that with people, this practice of connecting to our younger selves, so many people have connected to it. And it’s been incredible to see and experience.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:40:08] Oh, absolutely. I’m sure I’ve said this before somewhere on this podcast, but I’m going to say it again, damnit. I’ve spent the last couple of years since my nervous breakdown about eight years ago, just trying to get back to who I was as a baby, because I believe that that’s when we are perfect, is when we are infants. Like when we are not self-conscious, we aren’t self-conscious about the way that we look. We don’t noticed differences between other people other than things that make us extra curious. We are so loving, we are demanding of our needs. We’re like, I’m hungry, I’m lonely. I’m tired. I know, you know, I need to shit. We’re very vocal about all of these things that we need. And as women and women of color in particular, and as a black woman, that is definitely something that is, that we are shamed out of very early in life. And I want to get back to her.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:40:54] For sure. We know how to ask for help. We don’t feel embarrassed when we’re learning. It’s all natural for us to be curious. And I think, yeah, I just think there’s something really powerful in giving ourselves the opportunity to meet and explore and rediscover who that person is and let them guide us, as well as I dream of and think of and get counsel from my older self as well. I consider who I will be because I can’t look back at the younger me and say thank you for where you’ve gotten me to this point without being conscious of one day in 30 years or 40 years, that’s, that person will be speaking to me.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:31] Who is older you? What’s she like?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:41:35] Oh, you know, Jameela, with you, hanging out.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:41:38] Oh sure.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:41:38] At some beautiful garden party in a long flowy kimono and sipping rosé and talking about all of the incredible work we’ve been able to do in the world. I think that older me is a person who has found continuous spaces of comfort in who she is as a writer, as a black woman, as a partner, as a citizen, as an academic. And I’m just really excited to see the ways that I’m able right now, I’m able to celebrate what younger me has done to get me here. And I’m excited to celebrate me at a later time as well when I’m older.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:20] I cannot tell you how relieved I am to watch you beam and smile as you think of your older self, because I still think that we are-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:42:26] I do. I’m so obsessed with her.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:28] I love that. I love that. I am exactly the same. Like, I don’t want to touch anything on my face. I want to see my wrinkles. I love little old Indian woman. Love. Love little old Indian. I want the white hair. I keep finding little white, like very curly hairs randomly in my very straight head. And whenever anyone tries to pluck one out, I’m like, no, no, no, no. I need that. I need that. That’s me. That’s older me. She’s coming.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:42:54] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:42:54] And it’s so rare to find another woman who’s also excited about aging because we’re, we’re taught to, that all of the juice is in the youth. And-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:43:02] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:03] This perfectly takes me to my next point, which is that, you know, I think part of that comes from the fact that we are valuable when we can procreate, according to society. And once we can no longer make children, make babies, then we are no longer valuable. And that’s where the obsession of female youth comes from. And I wonder if perhaps part of the fact that you and I personally do not have an obsession or any feeling of obligation whatsoever towards having children, maybe that is what helps us explore the joy and the gratitude and even being able to age, something that people that we loved didn’t even get to do. We nourish that opportunity.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:43:42] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:43:42] We’d like nurture that opportunity to get older and be wise and pass what we’ve learned on to younger people. I can’t believe people get sad when they get a year older. I can’t, I love every birthday because I’m so excited.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:43:55] Yeah. That’s so interesting. I have never made that connection between the reason why we value youth so much. Has a direct connection to this idea that it’s in, in those younger years of our womanhood that we’re able to give birth. I’ve never made that connection, but that absolutely fits the bill of where a woman’s value is held in being able to relish in motherhood. And oftentimes they don’t even give her the chance to relish in it because they demand that she go back to work immediately or they judge her for going back to work or they judge her for staying at home. So it’s a very, it’s a very interesting space, motherhood. And as someone who has been a nanny, a live in nanny, full time nanny for a long time before I was able to start writing and speaking full time.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:44:38] Is that why you don’t want to have children? From that experience?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:44:41] Well, I always-. It probably adds, it probably adds to it. But I always say that having that experience that I am making an educated decision like it’s not just me saying like, oh, I think I just don’t want it. And people can say, oh, they just don’t want it, that is just as valid as me seeing and being part of the day to day of raising children and realizing that I would much rather sleep in on a Saturday if I want to, than have to get up and take my three year old to Spanish class or, you know, I just don’t find a deeper value-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:12] A very intense three year old. But yeah, go on. I’m going to take my two year old to quantum physics school.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:45:18] If you have ever nannied-. If you have ever been in nanny in D.C. or New York, you know, these three year olds are in Spanish class, for sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:45:27] I love that, I love a bilingual babe. Sorry.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:45:33] But I was able to make decisions and see this is the day to day of motherhood. This does not match my ideal day today. So I’m just gonna go ahead and make the decision not to explore that as part of my personal life journey. And it makes me, it, it gives me personally and a lot of other people I’ve been connecting with on this topic. The chance to indulge in the other relationships that we play into, into being, you know, showing up in really fun ways for the children that are in our lives as nieces and nephews or as little cousins or as neighbors or in other ways where I, and I’m sure you too, deeply value connections with children. I don’t want to birth them, but I love them. And I value the connection.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:11] I don’t really care. I don’t care. That’s where I’m at. Sorry. Keep going.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:46:14] I, no, that’s fine. That’s fine. It’s just, it’s just the ways that this conversation isn’t based around hating children.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:22] Yeah, of course.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:46:22] It’s based around on life day to day decisions. And so there’s, there’s so many ways that we can still make that a part of our lives or not a part of our lives. And it not be rooted in disdain for anything or anyone. It’s just purely what I want doesn’t match what we understand as the day to day journey of motherhood.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:44] You have this Instagram account that is a fairly recent account called The Rich Aunties.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:46:50] It’s called RichAuntiesSupreme.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:46:51] RichAuntiesSupreme. That was it. Where you have created this glorious, joyous space for women who have decided not to have children and therefore to share the indulgence of their lives and all of the holidays that they’re going on. You know, maybe during half term and all the great Saturday nights out and all the ways that you can spend your money or spend your time and, and enjoy lovers and enjoy just endless freedom. And it is such a celebratory space for a woman’s autonomy to just enjoy her life. It’s been so recent that we’ve even been given, like, vague permission to just enjoy ourselves.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:47:28] Yeah, to consider it as an option.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:30] Or to earn any money or to have anything of our own or to have any kind of freedom. We’re only still working towards that, really. And so-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:47:36] Yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:47:37] Damn straight if we don’t want to now go into, like, another form of service, for the rest of our lives. If you want to, that is wonderful and beautiful. And I may still do that. I’m going to put my, my, my, my eggs on ice so that I can make that choice when I’m in my 40s. But for the next six years. No fucking way. No fucking way. Maybe never. Because I-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:47:59] Yeah. Well. my mother had me when she was 40, so you could still have the option.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:03] Great.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:48:03] But for so many people in who who follow RichAuntiesSupreme and who engage, it’s really interesting because I was looking through that page this morning and I realized that that’s so much less of a social media page, as a community like-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:15] Yes.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:48:16] People like there’s hundreds of conversations. It’s really a conversation space. And one of the themes that comes up so much is that women feel so much shame around both making the decision to not want children and then the benefits of it. Of like, oh, am I allowed to sleep in this late? Am I allowed to spend this much money on a dress when, you know, my friends have to pay for daycare or have to consider, you know, what their children will be eating alongside them or making sure that they get to summer camp. So I think that it both is a space for people to be seen and heard in their decisions to say, wow, both I’m not the only one and I’m completely valid in this decision.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:48:52] One of my favorite posts was one where you asked your community, what is one of the number one things that people use to try to talk you into having children? Someone brought up the whole kind of, well, who’s gonna take care of you when you’re old?
RACHEL CARGLE [00:49:08] Right. How weird.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:10] And the response is-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:49:10] First of all that’s weird.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:12] What a crazy reason to have children.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:49:12] That’s so weird and selfish. That’s so weird.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:14] I know. I know. But also, someone was like, I don’t know, someone’s son is going to look after me when I’m old.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:49:23] Someone’s child who I, literally.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:28] My lover. Hopefully. But I do think that it’s wonderful to see a celebration of that. And again, this is zero shaming whatsoever. I may still be a mother one day. I have no idea. But currently, it is just so recent for me to find other women to be able to have this conversation with, of just like I might not. And also, this is a fucking horrible world that I don’t know if I have the courage, personally, to stir someone else through. I’m so bad at it.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:49:52] Literally that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:49:53] I’m so bad at life and the world. That I don’t know if I can effectively guide another girl through it. I’m afraid.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:50:00] It’s so, it’s so interesting to hear you say and everyone uses this language to say, oh, I might change my mind later because people are constantly telling us you might change your mind, you might change your mind. But the crazy thing is, no one ever says that to women who have kids like are you sure you want to have kids? You might change your mind because that’s a real issue. Like the real issue is if a woman has kids and she wants to change her mind, that’s where, it’s not the concern of someone who says they don’t. And then they decide to. That’s a pretty positive experience of, oh, I prepared myself and now I’m ready to fully invest in this. I think we really should be asking, like, are you sure you want our kids? You might change your mind.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:32] Oh, my God.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:50:33] Because that’s, it’s just another way of, you know, deciding what women do with their bodies.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:38] I can’t believe how much people try to talk me into having children vs. when I had an abortion, how much people tried to talk me out of it. I was like, there should be-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:50:47] That’s so interesting.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:50:47] And by the way, at the time, I was financially, entirely unstable. I was so mentally ill. I was not in the right relationship. I was not in the right space in my life. I was right in the middle of my dreams. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. And I had such a specific plan of what I wanted to do. And. I wasn’t ready. And no one was taking into all of these very clear factors and I explicitly didn’t want a child, which is also a very important thing.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:51:15] Yeah, I mean, it’s so-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:15] Because then, you’re going to resent them anyway, often because they’re very difficult and, and fulfilling and amazing, but also very, very tricky. And it’s a huge res-, the biggest responsibility. So if you already go into it not wanting it and resenting its existence, that is a recipe for potential true disaster. And yet the amount of people who with all of these factors clearly out there. Everything I was advocating for myself. They were still unsure if I was making the right decision. And yet my decision-.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:51:42] For yourself.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:51:43] Exactly. And so I was wondering, do you think there’s an added pressure on black and Indian and women of color, do you think that there’s an added pressure on us to procreate from our communities? Because I definitely feel that, from a South Asian background, it’s like family is everything, community is everything, there’s safety in numbers. I think that’s also a small part of it. It’s not just about building lineage and having something to pass everything down to and dowries, etcetera. You know, I think there’s a lot of pride in continuing a bloodline, etcetera. But. But I also think that there is a bit of a kind of like, you know, we’ll be safe if there’s as many of us as possible.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:52:21] Yeah, I, I hear that. That’s not something, that’s not something I considered. And I personally never felt that it was an extra pressure because of that. And actually I, I don’t get pressure from my personal family really. That’s not, from my, from my immediate family. But yeah, I’ve never considered that. But I totally hear you. And I think that in some particular cultures, like you said, your Indian culture, a lot of African countries in their cultures, it’s, it’s not just an expectation. It’s like a family demand. Like it’s, it’s more than hoping for it. People are expecting it. And I absolutely can see that in, in lots of, in lots of color, in communities of colors, for sure.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:03] I definitely feel like there’s a messaging amongst my community that like it would be a disrespect to my ancestors to not carry on my bloodline. But as far as I’m concerned, I consider all of my people, my family.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:53:16] Well, and that’s a conversation of legacy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:17] We are one big family and community. Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:53:20] Like, what is, what will your legacy be if you don’t have children and it’s like, my legacy, my goodness, in the world isn’t predicated on whether I have birthed someone or not. And we. And that’s also very selfish for me to think that my children will have some responsibility in carrying on any of the interests that I have.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:53:39] A hundred percent. I mean, sadly for me, I think my legacy is gonna be that video I made shitting fire on the toilet when I was trying to make a point about the dangers of diet and detox teas. And how really they’re just laxatives. So I really actually also wouldn’t necessarily want anyone to have to inherit that legacy in particular. I think perhaps my bloodline should stop with me and all of the bad tweets that happened.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:54:08] That is so funny.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:54:13] So it’s also wonderful to hear someone who isn’t too tied to their legacy. Moving on. Will you talk to me about the Loveland Foundation, please? That is another one of-, you’re so fucking busy, you’ve done so much. It’s so intimidating. But tell me about the bloody Loveland Foundation now please, Rachel. Make us all feel worse about ourselves and more fucking useless.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:54:42] Oh, my gosh, Jameela, you’re so funny. The Loveland Foundation is just another thing that kind of came up unexpectedly for me. I was in 2018? 2018, I believe. I remember distinctly I was nannying at the time and I had just dropped the little girl I was nannying off at school. And earlier in the day I had gotten the chance to have therapy, a therapy session. And I remember like after dropping her off at like her after school program, I was walking down, I think like 86th street or something. And I just felt deeply that I wished other black women had the opportunity to experience the clarity that I had felt that day from therapy, from that therapy session. And my birthday was coming near. And so I remember walking into a Starbucks, sitting down and creating a Go Fund Me and I wanted to raise the money to pay for black women and girls to go to therapy, like I wanted to pay off their bills, like go to therapy, send me your invoice and I’ll pay it off. I very naively thought that that was going to be a thing. And I started the fundraiser. I put it up on my Instagram, at the time, I think I had probably 10,000 followers and, maybe like 7,000 actually. And that night within 24 hours, we raise 10,000 dollars for the fund. And I realized that this was something people were willing to invest in and something that people connected with. And it was just incredible to see the investments into this port and within, within six months, I think we had 250,000 dollars and I was able to bring on professional nonprofit staff, people who were able to develop the systems and people who were able to really assist me in making sure that this was done and done right. And the foundation has been able to, it’s been, you know, years now since we started. And the foundation has been able to serve hundreds and hundreds of black women and girls and getting them connected to therapists who look like them and who experience the world like them, who are able to relate more directly to the experience of black women and girls and also allow them to get all of this incredible support for free with all the donations that are made. And so it’s been such an incredible journey for me just having, it’s so wild to see an idea come to life and to come to life in such a meaningful way. And so I’m so grateful for the Loveland Foundation and the team and the partners that we’ve had, especially this year, we’ve gotten so much support and it’s just been such an incredible opportunity to offer this resource to my community.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:57:21] I want to ask another question, because within the South Asian community, again, there’s a lot of shame around needing therapy, around mental health issues, around admitting to trauma, that we take pride in stoicism. And I was wondering if you find that within your own community or if that’s maybe changing because we are modernizing as a generation.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:57:42] Absolutely, it was a huge stigma within the black community, particularly in the African American community, there is this understanding that there has been over the generations, this understanding that therapy means you’ve reached rock bottom or that you have no more control of yourself and someone has to come in and help you or even that therapy is an irrational choice when religion should be your first go to when it comes to any type of mental health support.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:58:07] Fascinating.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:58:08] And so it is a new conversation within the black community to say therapy is OK, you can love Jesus and go to therapy. You can use therapy not as a last resort, but as an ongoing maintenance of self. In the same way that we workout our bodies and the same ways that we take a bath every day, and the same ways that we, you know, take multiple courses. It’s a way for you to maintain your continuous wellbeing as opposed to it being a tool box for when you’re broken. And I also have a lot of conversations that, it’s really nice to have a therapist who you can talk to about your wins also, who can help you process when things are going really well. I think anyone will admit to the times when things are going really well and we’re like, uh uh, this is way too good. Like and we began to question why things are going well. So it’s not always, therapy isn’t always the space you go to where you’re breaking down, crying and trying to figure out where everything went wrong. It’s also a space to process the normal and good stuff that’s happening as well. So we kind of, the, one of my favorite images of therapy is when you go in and you’re, and there’s like a knot in your head and by time you’re out, it’s a smooth line. It’s this way for us to process whatever it is, whatever it is in our mind, whether it’s something good or bad. It’s a third party who is trained to give us the tools to find clarity and what we’re experiencing in life. And everyone deserves that.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:28] I agree. Also, everyone deserves someone to tell all of their darkest secrets to who won’t use against them in an argument.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:59:33] Yeah, true. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:33] Three years later. Because it’s very dangerous, it’s very dangerous to say some of the thoughts in your head to someone who could betray you in your most vulnerable moment.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:59:43] It sounds like you need therapy for that particular thing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [00:59:45] Yeah, yeah. Yep. I need somewhere to bury all my skeletons, Rachel. Who’s not going to toss a bone back at me in the most unexpected moment.
RACHEL CARGLE [00:59:58] I absolutely agree. That alone is a value in therapy.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:00:05] One hundred percent. Judgment free, secret telling-. No, I have a friend who is a young black therapist. And she, she is, she’s so new to this. I mean, she’s only been doing it three or four years and almost from within the minute she started has been fully booked for four years and she’s only 27. And this is because there is such a desperation for more therapists who actually look like the young people who are seeking out therapy. It’s apparently and she’s told me that the convention she goes to, you know, for therapists and psychiatrists are just like, it’s all like older, particularly, like predominately white men, straight white men.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:00:41] Yeah, yeah.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:00:41] Who are, you know, who were the leading thinkers and writers and speakers in this space. And so, you know, also, I think that people have traditionally and God knows we’re just learning, you know, as a, as a culture about how this exists within the medical space. But I don’t think people have ever thought about mental health as something that people of color, in particular black people, go through. You know, because of this idea that black people are so strong and like unbreakable. And these are thoughts that go back all-, this is a rhetoric that traces back all the way back to slavery to justify the dehumanization and, you know, impossible amount that was piled onto human beings just because of skin color. And so, you know, I think a lot of people look at something like eating disorders or mental health issues or suicidal ideation as, as a white issue, because those are the film characters that we saw, those of the people in the campaigns, in the posters, in the pamphlets. And so to me, like and I never even thought that it was something that was impacting me. I didn’t know I was mentally ill until I was 27 when I had a full nervous breakdown. I just thought of it as a-.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:01:52] Well, it’s like we don’t know we’re-.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:01:52] Yeah, I never saw people like me, you know, partially because of the fact that we whitewash mental illness, but partially because of the huge amount of shaming and silencing of it within my own community.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:02:05] Yeah. And it all plays, it all plays into each other. This is an intersectionality in itself of seeing the way that race plays into so many areas of our lives.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:02:15] Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:02:15] Mental health, of, you know, like you said, eating disorders, feminism, you know, education. There’s so many ways that this has to be considered because it’s what this country was built on. It’s what this country was built around.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:02:29] Yeah.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:02:29] Valuing and catering to the existence of the white cis, het male and everyone else is, is just trying to exist in various ways. And so I’m glad you brought that up, because it’s very true that there’s so many spaces that black people or people of color, aren’t even allowed to breathe into, because even in a space of mental health, we don’t feel like we have space. We don’t feel like we belong. We don’t feel like we’re deserving of something because the world has shown us that we’re not or that we don’t, you know, have the chance, you know, you don’t have time to have a mental illness. You have to try to figure out how you’re gonna pay your rent. You don’t have time to consider whether you’re child, you know, might have an eating disorder because you just want them to get through a school system that is doing everything they can to break them. And so it’s really critical and very empowering for black women and girls, these people who are within the Loveland Foundation to say, not only do I deserve mental healthcare, I deserve it from someone who looks like me and I’m able to, and I deserve to get it for free from, for someone, from someone and from an organization that is working to get it to me. And one of my favorite parts about the Loveland Foundation, being able to be the president of an organization that both caters to the black women and girls who need the therapy. But also everyone wins because we are connected, we have collaborations with lists of black therapists throughout the country. And so we’re getting those black therapists paid. We’re able to connect them to clients, were able to pay their bills with our, with the donations that have come to us. So in this, this is a trifecta of black women winning, both me being able to create a wildly meaningful organization, the black women and girls being able to get the therapy they need and deserve, and the black therapist to be able to get paid well for the work that they’re doing.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:16] Amazing. Well, if you are a young black woman who is struggling with your mental health currently, then please look up the Loveland Foundation, if you haven’t yet heard of it. And if you are not a young black woman or an old black woman or any other kind of black woman, the rest of us, please look up this foundation and donate to it and figure out ways that you can support and let your friends know about it, because I think it is truly, truly one of the coolest organizations I’ve ever seen.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:04:45] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:04:45] OK, well, I’ve taken up loads of your time and you’re very, very busy. Rachel Cargle, my absolute hero, will you tell me what do you weigh?
RACHEL CARGLE [01:04:56] Ooh, you know what? You know what’s so wild, Jameela, I didn’t know this is a question on your podcast, but it’s so crazy. I’m, I moved back home to be with my mother, and she’s had so many doctors appointments. And every time I go, I’m tempted to weigh myself. It burns in the back of my head to crave it, to want to know. And with your, with your Instagram page and seeing all the shares that you make of people listing what they, you know, all of their qualities that they weigh. It’s so wild that I wish that while we walk through the world, we crave to know those things instead. We crave to know what are the things that we love about ourselves as opposed to what society is asking from us in those numbers. And, and thinking about how I literally would sit at the back of a doctor’s office, like, should I go, should I found, find out, what am I curious about myself. Like, what will it mean when that number pops up. It, I wish that curiosity was, I don’t know, was born out of me in the same way to figure out all those other things. But I weigh curiosity. I weigh enchantments. I weigh adventure and I weigh the weights of everything I love about my older self and my younger self.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:10] Yay, we love.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:13] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:13] Thank you so much. I adore you. And this was so fun and you’re just so clever and great. And I wish I was more like you. So enjoy your rosé.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:28] Oh, my God.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:28] And I-.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:28] Thank you.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:29] And I hope that everyone has enjoyed this. And will go on to follow you and learn from you, alongside me. And I’m grateful for your existence. And I can’t wait to hang out with your older self.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:41] I know. Yes.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:42] In a garden, eating cheese.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:45] I can’t express to you how much this is on my agenda. Already it’s in my calendar.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:50] Great. We’re manifesting.
RACHEL CARGLE [01:06:53] For us, in-. Yes. In 20 years, the garden will be in. I’m putting it on my calendar today.
JAMEELA JAMIL [01:06:57] I can’t wait. Thank you so much for listening to this week’s “I Weigh”. I would also like to thank the team, which helps me make this podcast. My producer, Sophia Jennings and Kimie Lucas. My editor, Andrew Carson. My boyfriend, James Blake, who made the beautiful music you are hearing now. And me, for my work. At “I Weigh”, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543. Or e-mail us what you weigh, at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And remember, it’s not in pounds and kilos, it’s your social contributions to society or just how you define yourself in life. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our listeners.
I WEIGH COMMUNITY MEMBER [01:07:41] I weigh my mixed race heritage and multicultural upbringing that has enriched and continued to enrich my life in so many ways. I weigh the music that I write and produce as a woman of color, still in a very white and male dominated music industry. I weigh my willingness to learn and to constantly challenge any internal biases that society forces upon us. I weigh my luck and my gratefulness to be alive. And I weigh my love for doggos. Thank you, Jameela, for creating this wonderful community.
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