While everyone’s journey of anti-racism and social justice is different, one growth aspect we share is the need to listen and learn.
Podcasts are a great way to help you learn. As a podcast host myself, I explore new ways of tackling difficult topics through conversations with leaders and experts. They are great for understanding both the complexity of the topic as well as learning how to speak about it. You might have experienced that you understand issues such as bias and systemic racism but knowing and transmitting that knowledge to others are two separate things.
Wherever you are on your social awareness journey, here are four of the best podcasts on race, inclusion, and social justice to help you along the way:
1. Code Switch
NPR’s Code Switch is a weekly podcast hosted by American journalists Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji on the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity, and culture. If you want to explore a topic from multiple dimensions, this is the go-to podcast.
The show discusses current news while looking at the historical context of race relations and civil rights in the United States. What makes it one of the best podcasts on race is their nuanced research and reporting a topic from multiple angles and giving a platform to sociologists, historians, topic experts, and communities to tell their stories.
Two episodes to listen to:
Balls and Strikes
Many athletes in 2020, specifically in the WNBA and NBA have gone on strike to highlight injustices across the U.S. Athletes like Candace Parker and Donovan Mitchell are vocal about the importance of having difficult conversations and actively demand justice, while Major League Soccer addresses their stance with pregame protests.
The podcast episode explores how recent strikes have come about and how strikes have historically helped communities of color to advance their civil rights and demand change. Listen here to Balls and Strikes by Code Switch.
Is it time to say R.I.P. to ‘P.O.C.’?
Whether you’re having inclusion training with your colleagues or watching the news, everywhere you look, the term ‘people of color’ and specifically ‘BIPOC’ is appearing in discussions around race, inclusion, and social justice. People have grouped inherently diverse communities under the term, including people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, or Arab.
The episode discusses the diversities of communities of color and shares insights into becoming more inclusive in how you speak about issues affecting them. It is not so much about following a universal truth but discovering how an individual wants to be called and to be respectful in acknowledging the identities of others. Listen here to Is it time to say R.I.P. to ‘P.O.C.’? by Code Switch.
All Code Switch episodes are fantastic for learning more about race, inclusion and social justice, making this one of the best podcasts on race around.
2. The Good Ancestor Podcast
As I worked through her book this summer, I was fascinated by how relevant it was for all Non-Black people, as versions of White supremacy can also show up in different ways for people of color. While Saad’s book offers actionable solutions to the question ‘What can I do to be anti-racist?’, her podcast spotlights examples of how people are living the answer to that question every day.
The diverse range of leaders in arts, business, education, sports, and more, discussing topics of identity, personal transformation, and social change makes this one of the best podcasts on race and inclusion.
Two episodes to explore:
Good Ancestor Jessamyn Stanley on Yoga for All Bodies
This episode features Jessamyn Stanley, an award-winning yoga instructor, author, entrepreneur, and an advocate for body acceptance, female empowerment, and inclusion. She has been one of the powerful women of adidas’ Reimagine Sports, inspiring others to be authentic rather than trying to fit into a mold of society’s expectations.
The conversation explores her unique approach to yoga, intersectional identity, and how she defies anti-blackness and fat-shaming within the wellness space. Listen to or watch the interview with Jessamyn Stanley by the Good Ancestors Podcast.
Good Ancestor Sarah Jones on Being a One-Woman Global Village
Sarah Jones is an award-winning writer and performer known for her multi-character, one-person shows. The first time I came across her work was in one of her hilarious ‘one-woman global village’ TED talks, where she performs characters inspired by personalities she grew up around. In their conversation, she explains the various stereotypical depictions of Black women in media and how she built a new space for herself.
If you only listen to the podcast, you will be surprised and might think instead of two people, there might be four or five guests on the show, as Sarah Jones comedic talent is captivated in her fictional characters’ storytelling. Listen to or watch the interview with Sarah Jones on the Good Ancestors Podcast.
With this podcast, Saad’s focus on personal growth by role-modeling stays true to its title and the quest to become a good ancestor.
3. We're Having a Moment (I heart radio)
We’re Having a Moment is a limited podcast series hosted by comedian, writer, and cultural critic Baratunde Thurston, who was part of the early team on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. This podcast is perfect for anyone who wants to get an overview of the uprisings and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 and is trying to make sense of the history we are currently living in.
His six-part series explores the context and state of race relations and civil rights that have led to the defining moment especially for race and policing in the United States. From the influence of the COVID public health crisis to defunding the police and voting, this series’ comprehensive reporting makes it one of the best podcasts on race and social justice. Listen here to the We’re Having a Moment podcast series by Baratunde Thurston.
4. Still Processing (NY Times)
Still Processing is a podcast hosted by New York Times culture writer Jenna Wortham and Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and journalist Wesley Morris. This podcast explores culture, arts, and societal topics around race, social awareness, and identity.
The show consists of conversations between the hosts, with occasional interviews and snippets from films, music, or shows. With strong opinions and naturally intoxicating energy, their discussions are always critical, always raw, and almost always fun.
Two episodes to listen to:
So Y’all Finally Get It
The episode is quite a raw one, extracted from a live conversation the hosts had after the first Black Lives Matter demonstrations in June 2020. Morris and Wortham come together to discuss public outrage, empathy, and protest inclusivity.
What stands out are their discussions around intersectionality and how to make the social justice movement inclusive of those who are historically disadvantaged by multiple forms of oppression. They pose uncomfortable but necessary questions making this one of the best podcasts on race. Listen to So Y’all Finally Get It by Still Processing.
Ziwe May Destroy Hamilton
This episode encompasses the usual culture critic conversations the two hosts engage in: authentic discomfort. While you may not be familiar with the names in the titles, their reporting on the highly successful Broadway play Hamilton and the shows Baited and I May Destroy You, explores how entertainment is changing to make room for raw and personal views on race, privilege and social justice. They explore cultural comedy shifts spearheaded by Black women creatives like Michaela Cole and Ziwe Fumudoh. Listen to Ziwe May Destroy Hamilton by Still Processing.
Now you have my four best podcasts on race and inclusion – I would love to hear which podcasts have helped you gain more knowledge and understanding of race, inclusion, and social justice.
Leave your thoughts and recommendations in the comment section below!
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