As a sweltering Wednesday hurtles towards the end of a pre-holiday week, Dr. Akilah Cadet toggles between managing logistics for an upcoming project, replying to clients, and filming scenes for a sketch to promote her new podcast. She epitomizes “range” in every conceivable application of the word. As a Black disabled woman, intersectionality isn’t something Dr. Cadet strives for; it’s something she inhabits. And while she’s perfectly capable of doing and being a million things at once, her new project — the Soft Black Woman podcast — rejects the notion that she should have to.
Dr. Cadet is the founder and CEO of Change Cadet, an influential consulting firm that helps companies practice anti-racism, diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging. She’s also an influencer, writer and cultural commentator whose reflections on race and identity have connected with thousands of followers and expanded countless minds (including mine).
As a fan of Dr. Cadet’s work who’s had the opportunity to interview her on the Betches Sup podcast, I’ve frequently mused to myself: “I wish I could have this woman in my ear all the time.” And while I don’t think Dr. Cadet will let me hook a microphone to her lapel to absorb her genius at all times, she has agreed to launch a weekly podcast in partnership with the Betches Sup. Introducing: Soft Black Woman.
Every Friday on Soft Black Woman, Dr. Akilah Cadet will invite her smartest friends (she has a lot of them) and amazing thinkers to unpack trending news and under-the-radar culture stories from a BIPOC perspective. She and her guests will discuss headlines that impact their communities while celebrating the Black women making space for joy in a world that constantly demands vigilance.
Dr. Cadet elaborated on what it means to be a “soft black woman” in a recent interview. “To me being a soft black woman means no longer living or being viewed as a stereotype of a strong or angry Black woman. It means I’m believed whether I’m talking to a doctor or a leader of a Fortune 500 company,” she said. “It means that I’m supportive with what I want to do that puts myself first or I’m not solving the world’s problems. It means that I can rest without guilt. And I can tap into all the things that bring me joy.”
We asked Dr. Cadet a few more get-to-know-you questions in the Q&A below.
What could you talk about forever?
It’s a mix between Beyoncé and dismantling white supremacy.
What’s something you don’t leave the house without (other than your phone)
My nitroglycerin. I always have to have it with me in case I have a heart attack.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
When someone tells me I’m my true authentic self. That is one of the best compliments I didn’t even know I needed, but it was a point of arrival for me that: Wow people can see all this work I had to get through to be my true authentic self.
The best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s a hard question to answer as I’m the one who’s always giving advice. But “ask for help” has been, well helpful!
The last book you read?
Mean Baby by Selma Blair
What’s your most used word?
Fuck. It is my favorite word and I use it confidently and daily.
What’s your favorite thing to dismantle?
White supremacy. It’s kind of what I’m known for.
What’s the first thing you tell someone who wants to pursue anti-racism?
There’s no end date. It’s a never-ending journey of learning and unlearning in order to move past allyship to be an advocate and/or accomplice for a person or group who doesn’t look and live like you. It will be uncomfortable, but the goal is to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
You can listen to the first episode of Soft Black Woman right now. In the inaugural episode, Dr. Cadet is joined by Blair Imani to unpack the disproportionate impact of a trio of recent Supreme Court decisions on Black women, whether Threads can avoid the white supremacy that tends to invade all social media platforms, why conservatives are big mad over Jill Scott’s performance of the National Anthem, and why Tracy Chapman just made history. Listen here on Spotify and here on iTunes.