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Anti-Racism Daily's Nicole Cardoza makes magic 🪄
She's currently on tour as a magician, and practices radical imagination every day
A magical new episode is out now! 🪄
Nicole Cardoza is the creator of the Anti-Racism Daily newsletter, but she does so much more than that. She manages Reclamation Ventures, which invests in projects committed to health and racial equity; she runs the Banned Books Book Club; and she is currently on tour as a magician! Nicole says she practices “radical imagination” every day — and invites you to as well.
Nicole started writing Anti-Racism Daily shortly after the murder of George Floyd in 2020. She watched as the newsletter quickly soared to popularity — it now reaches hundreds of thousands of subscribers — and she had to step up to a new level of personal and professional responsibility. Nicole was dealing with her own grief during this time, on top of digging into the steep learning curve of maintaining a daily newsletter with a large audience.
I wanted to share a powerful part of our conversation where Nicole reflected on the work she herself — as a Black, queer women — had to do to show up to the task of writing daily about the intersectional social justice topics she covered. She humbled herself and opened her heart and mind to the task of constantly learning more about the communities she wrote about, and accepted over and over again how much she did not know. Read an excerpt of our conversation below (28:01):
Nicole Cardoza (NC): I learned that perfect isn't possible when you're doing a daily newsletter. It put me into the practice of radical transparency and honesty with hundreds of thousands of people I'd never met before. I've personally made a lot of mistakes and wrote things that weren't right, and I was learning a lot as I was going, too. I always said that these were my own, like, book reports on subjects. So when people were like, Oh, you missed something, I'm like, Yep, you're absolutely right. I did. I'm sorry.
And really, a lot of the work in the newsletter is amplifying community organizers and racial justice leaders who emphasize how important it is to be in radical community. And so that's what this really became.
This was my own personal practice to be like, I need to understand what more I can be doing. I'm obviously a Black, queer woman, I've experienced racism my whole life, but it doesn't mean I was very well-versed in how to solve it. I think people have that misconception that if you experience it, then you know all of the answers. And it's a lived experience for me, right? This is a part of my vocabulary. It's a part of my identity, experiencing racism, but it doesn't make me a racial justice educator by default.
And so when we would talk about things like the importance of ending cash bail, I understand that I've seen that in my family, but I don't understand how it was formed, or its intricacies, or what organizations are doing the right work, or how else we can support other than just donating to a bail fund. So I would sit down, and I would do all of that. And I pull all these resources from all these incredible people, for myself, and then send it out. So it wasn't like I was trying to be like, Oh, I am the expert on how to end cash bail. No, I just did a lot of research. And here's what I've got. Go read from these people.
So it was a very authentic and vulnerable way to do things. Some people will be like, Oh, she's an activist, and she's an an expert. I'm like, No, no, no, no, no — I'm just really good at Google. I've become much more well-versed in where to find resources and how to vet them. But I'm a learner, too. And I want all of us to be in that position of learning. And I think it's powerful to model that, to be like, I can find out this information by myself, too.
One of the pillars of antiracism is to do internal work to unlearn your own biases. This requires humility, the ability to admit when you are wrong or do not know something, and the willingness to listen to and take in the lived experiences of people in communities outside of your own. I see a lot of people (including myself) really struggle with the simple honesty of saying, “I don’t know anything about that, but I’m willing to learn.”
Nicole’s own work in these areas is so inspiring to me, but I especially love how she describes her current approach to life, and her focus on work as an illusionist:
“I've been grounding in the practice of radical imagination, and dreaming about a new future that's not tied to the drama of these past few months. And even in micro-scenarios, I always think, What's the most radical thing I could be doing in this moment? How could I completely disrupt my routine? What would bring me immense pleasure and joy this morning while I'm drinking coffee that I might not do because I'm too wired to think about the emails I have to answer, or the dishes in my sink? So yeah, just giving myself a little bit more space for what feels impossible.”
What have you kept in the “impossible” category in your life that you could actually choose to do right this second?
Some other interesting topics we touch on in this episode:
Nicole’s growth in yoga and the wellness space (15:53)
What is the “wellness gap?” (17:45)
How Nicole leveled up professionally (26:52)
The pandemic months Nicole spent in the wilds of Alaska (37:28)
Banned Books Book Club, and the rise of book banning in the USA (46:46)
“We are all agents of change, and we are all parts of this culture. And so we can make actions every day to change things. And we have to. It’s the least that we can do. Even if all of us together trying to change everything truly won't make a difference. The most we can do, the only thing that we can do, is try.”
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Extra special thanks to:
Logo artist Jaymie de los Reyes
You are not alone!