In a powerful op-ed for the Los Angeles Times following the killing of George Floyd, basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabar said, “Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.” In an effort to stay vigilant and expand your knowledge and understanding of race and racism in America, we recommend listening to these five thought-provoking and conversation-starting podcasts.
The “1619” audio series is part of The 1619 Project, a major initiative from the New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The podcast, which launched in the fall of 2019, is hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who says, “This project is, above all, an attempt to set the record straight. To finally, in this 400th year, tell the truth about who we are as a people and who we are as a nation. Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.”
Launched in 2016, this weekly show from National Public Radio (NPR) is a pioneer of the podcast platform and features a multi-racial, a multi-generational team of journalists discussing the overlapping themes of race, ethnicity, and culture and how they play out in our lives and communities. Episodes include discussions on race in America from every angle, whether it’s through a pop culture, historical, or political lens.
This Duke University Center for Documentary Studies podcast—featuring activist and scholar Chenjerai Kumanyika and hosted by John Biewen—exposes the deeply embedded root causes of white supremacy and racism across the expansion of civilizations. This 14-part series is an excellent primer on the history of whiteness in America, sharing lesser-known events that will inspire white listeners to see their own place in society with fresh eyes.
This New York Times-produced podcast dissects pop culture through a historial and racial lens, and was described by The Atlantic as “sharp and intellectual, goofy and raw.” Hosted by Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, two culture writers from the New York Times, the show covers a wide variety of topics, including those that focus on Black culture. Episodes like “Being Black in the Age of Wokeness” and “Still Processing: Being Biracial” are not to be missed.
Brené Brown is a New York Times bestselling author and research professor at the University of Houston who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Her new podcast features conversations that aim to explore our shared humanity to help listeners live, love, parent, and lead with more courage and heart. Recent must-listen-to episodes include “Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist” and “Brené with Austin Channing Brown on I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness.”