How the yogi and anti-racism activist is shaking up the wellness and philanthropy spaces.
– KEYS SOULCARE
Nicole Cardoza is redetermining who gets to be happy and healthy. An entrepreneur, activist, and wellness advocate, she’s disrupting the wellness industry through her nonprofit, Yoga Foster, which provides yoga training and resources to 100,000 young people each year. Through her passion for inspiring and uplifting the Black community, she founded Reclamation Ventures, a fund that invests in under-resourced entrepreneurs who are working to make the wellness industry more inclusive and accessible. As if her current workload isn’t more than enough to keep her busy, Cardoza is also the woman behind the popular newsletter Anti-Racism Daily, which shares action items and educational materials aimed at dismantling white supremacy.
Though she’s fully invested in her work, Cardoza is adamant about caring for herself and those around her, especially in the midst of the past year’s pandemic and racial reckoning. “Giving myself grace has been the most important act of self-care,” she says, adding that she’s intentional about extending grace to others as well. “Giving people time not to respond to emails and not to show up for Zoom calls [is important]. I want to make sure my team doesn’t feel like anything is urgent other than themselves. That’s something I’ve been trying to practice.”
We talked to Cardoza about yoga, why she’s shaking up the philanthropy space, and more.
What initially drew you to yoga?
Yoga was the first practice that called me into a relationship with my body. It makes me feel at home inside myself.
What’s the most fulfilling part of making yoga more accessible?
Accessibility elevates the yoga space for everyone, myself included. That fills me up. It’s important to share this space with people who have historically felt “othered.”
Tell us about your impact fund and the inspiration behind it.
The nonprofit community is filled with good intentions, but also riddled with harmful impact. The gatekeepers are overwhelmingly white and wealthy, and they decide what causes get funded, what buildings are worth building, et cetera. I realized what a powerful tool money is, and I wanted to create a shift towards Black people being the ones to use it to fuel our community. We were once property. The fact that we can reclaim that relationship with money and use it to build the future we deserve, that’s what I’m excited about.
How do you think wellness and financial stability are connected?
We live in a world where the most fundamental aspects of wellness, like food, are gated by money. It’s important for people to be able to access those things. While something like yoga may not be among the most fundamental aspects of our health, it makes sense that financial stability can be a critical component of many people’s wellness practices.
Just existing as a Black woman can be exhausting. How do you deal with that reality while also doing anti-racism work?
Being a Black woman is the most glorious and blessed experience. It’s not being a Black woman that’s exhausting, it’s racism that’s exhausting. Existing in a system of oppression and white supremacy is exhausting. Talking about racism on top of it is more exhausting; it further exposes me to the vitriol and the hate that already exists in the world. But I do this work to create a safer space for my grandchildren. I do this work because my ancestors did it for me.
What are you still learning about anti-racism?
It’s easy to replicate systems of oppression as we try to solve them. I’m always recognizing my complicity in this system. Being complicit while you try to dismantle it is a hard thing. I feel I need to keep acknowledging that in my work. I never want to speak for everybody.
What do you want people to learn from your podcasts and newsletter?
That there is always more work to do.
A lot of your work involves social media, which can create a false sense of intimacy and increased accessibility. How do you set boundaries?
I’ve been keeping the most sacred times to myself. I’m intentional about the way I use social media, and I only share what I’m comfortable sharing. I’ll delete DMs or block people if I feel it’s necessary. And I think it’s ok to be quiet sometimes.