Hello, fellow podcast lovers — and fellow peaceful, progressive people! Today we’re going to deviate from green drinks and eco-friendly life hacks, into a more sensitive and incredibly important topic. Today I want to talk about what it means to be a white ally, and I want to share a few of my favorite podcasts that deal specifically with race, racism, racial politics, and the intersection of racial identity with other social issues.
It’s not an easy subject to talk about. And for a long time, I felt powerless because I just didn’t know how. I didn’t know how to talk about race. So, I stopped talking. It was more important for me, I realized, to start listening.
Being a part of this fight — actively and constructively — is something that is deeply important to me, and yet it’s not something I felt like I knew how to do. There is no textbook for how to be an ally! And, despite my very best intentions, I did not feel like I was equipped to have productive conversations about race.
So I began listening to the experiences of people of color. I educated myself about the invisible systems of power and privilege that animate our everyday lives. I learned new language to talk about these these things, and eventually, I felt like it was time again for me to talk.
My goal is always to communicate in ways which are honest and helpful, and in order to do that, I needed to learn the right language. The following podcasts have been such a beautiful guiding light for me in learning how to confidently and competently navigate conversations about something as complicated and fraught as racial politics. And that has allowed me to do the work I need to do as a white ally — to go out into the world and have these challenging conversations about racism (mostly with other white people).
So here they are, the podcasts that have armed me with the tools I need to help build a better world:
1. Code Switch
Code Switch is a relatively new podcast from NPR, although the contributors have been appearing, and talking about these issues, on many of the other NPR podcasts for years. Code Switch is the most professionally-produced podcast of the three I’m talking about today, and very NPR in it’s styling (insightful, intellectual, and maybe a little bit restrained). There are about a dozen contributors, all people of color from various backgrounds, with differing and unique perspectives on topics ranging from race in the LGBTQ community, to the embracing American flag; from #BlackLivesMatter, to the idea of living in a “post racial” America. Code Switch is less conversational and more formal, but it walks a lovely line between academia and emotion. It’s a perfect starting place for learning about these sorts of issues.
2. Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race
Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race is probably my very favorite of the three, and I’m sad to say that’s on an indefinite hiatus at the moment. But don’t let that stop you from going back and listening to all the old episodes! There’s about 20 hours of wicked-smart commentary, and it’s so well worth the listen.
The show is hosted by a a trio of authors — Baratunde Thurston (How To Be Black), Raquel Cepeda (Bird Of Paradise: How I Became Latina), and “token white guy” Tanner Colby (Some Of My Best Friends Are Black). These three hosts have such a great repartee, bantering back and forth about: “the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.” It’s freaking awesome, and you need to listen to it.
Intersection is a podcast from The New Republic, hosted by Jamil Smith. The podcast is centered on race, but always explores the intersectionality of racial identity with other social systems such as gender, sexual orientation, body image and beauty standards, economic issues, etc. Often featuring interviews with various experts, researchers, journalists, and real everyday people, Intersection is a really important look at the way racial identity fits into a much larger social landscape.
This one, unfortunately, is also currently on hiatus. But hey, you can still go back and listen to all the old episodes, which haven’t gotten any less timely or insightful. Intersectionality is the way forward, and this podcast is like a roadmap for the future.
Oh And Also!
As I have begun to listen to more and more podcasts hosted by people of color, it’s made me realize — oh hey guess what? I really freaking enjoy media that’s presented through a non-white lens! Experiencing media that’s made by people of color makes me really wake up to the fact that almost all the media that I have ever consumed in my entire life has been made by white people, and that’s a really limited perspective. So, not only is it important to broaden that lens on an academic or political level, but it also just makes the media better. It’s just better and richer to learn about the world from a variety of perspectives. And that’s sort like a “no duh” statement to read, but at least for me, I didn’t even realize how narrow my lens was until I made the conscious decision to broaden it.
So with that said, here are a few more podcasts that I’ve been getting in to. They are not all specifically about racial politics, but they are all hosted by people of color and approach the world (politics, pop culture, everyday life) from that perspective:
From Buzzfeed. “Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy show.”
Black Girl Dangerous
“Today, Vanessa told me,
“Yell it, scream it, shout it from the
rooftops. Beat your chest. Tear your hair. Bite. Scratch. Be theatrical.
Go wild. The more you mourn, the less you carry.”
I started to cry when she said that.
That’s really what this thing is about.”
Two Brown Girls
“Two Brown Girls is a pop culture, film, and television podcast hosted by writers and critics Fariha Roisin and Zeba Blay.”
“Join Kid Fury and Crissle for their weekly podcast covering hip-hop and pop culture’s most trying stars. Throwing shade and spilling tea with a flippant and humorous attitude, no star is safe from Fury and Crissle unless their name is Beyoncé. (Or Blue Ivy.)”
Okay guys, now it’s your turn!! I want to know YOUR favorite podcasts about race, or produced by people of color. I’m always looking for more listening, so please please, lay ‘em on me! The more we share, the more we can all learn — to Be Better, Do Better.