Education is the first step in learning how to be better allies.
While doing my own research and readings it’s become woefully apparent that our education system is severely lacking and has fallen short in highlighting and examining the atrocities of the past and their impact on the Black community into our present. It, therefore, falls on all of us to take ownership of this learning and use the innumerable resources in the form of books, podcasts, documentaries and essays to begin and continue our education.
We’ve included a list of 13 podcasts to get you started in learning about the history of race and racism and how it permeates every aspect of our society today. All of the below are available on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple and Google podcasts. For more resources and podcasts, check out this list from Bello Collective and this guide from Victoria Alexander.
Being better educated is just the start of being a better ally. Knowledge is power and it’s what we do with this knowledge moving forward that counts.
Hosted by journalists Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby, Code Switch delves into the impact of race in every part of life and society – from politics and history to sports and pop culture. They’ve interviewed poets, authors, filmmakers and experts about issues such as intimate partner violence, police brutality, Shakespeare, race science and much, much more.
Start with: A Decade Of Watching Black People Die
New York Times culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham take a sharp, entertaining and insightful look at the intersection of race and culture in the United States. The hosts are acutely aware of the changing cultural climate, tackling a mix of heavy and light issues. They’ve discussed the aftermath of the 2016 election, Hollywood and their visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Start with: The Reckoning
This podcast is part of a larger project developed by The New York Times Magazine examining the history of slavery and has won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. The date in the title refers to the year the first enslaved Africans arrived in America and the podcast charts the history and impact of slavery since then.
Start with: Episode 1 – The Fight for a True Democracy
Launched in 2018, this popular podcast has transitioned into a video series at Quibi. While there may not be many new episodes forthcoming, there’s a litany of engaging and entertaining episodes you can binge from their archive, all of which “celebrate the genius, the innovation, and the resilience that is so particular to being Black — in America, and around the world.”
Start with: The Hairstons Part 2 – Diary of a Mad Black Cousin
As the title suggests, this podcast centers around listener questions and whether or not something is racist. Hosted by Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome, this podcast is funny, entertaining and educational.
Start with: Challenging Comfort Levels with Black Violin
Hosted by activist DeRay McKesson, each episode delves into important and often overlooked issues and news stories of the day with experts, leaders and influencers. Past guests include civil rights lawyer Vanita Gupta, Maxine Waters and John Legend to discuss social, cultural and political issues that impact people of colour.
Start with: No In Between
Another popular podcast from NPR, this show explains the present by taking you to the past. Some of the biggest issues and stories of today are traced back through their history, including the fight for gay rights, mass incarceration, concentrationm camps, white nationalism and so much more. It’s a must-listen and provides important insight into how the world has been shaped through the ages and into our present.
Start with: Mass Incarceration
Black History Year does the important job of retelling our history by delving into stories, people and events of the past that are left out of history books and our curriculum.
Start With: Is This The Blueprint For Black Liberation?
This podcast talks to activists and changemakers about the issues facing people of colour and the ways people are solving these problems in their communities.
Start with: Black History in the Making
While relatively new (it came out just this year), Come Through is an insightful and important new podcast tackling race and racism in 2020. Each episode features guests and “essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America.” Guests include Issa Rae, author Robin DiAngelo, Don Lemon and Gabrielle Union.
Start With: Robin DiAngelo Wants to Be a Little Less White
The United States of Anxiety looks at the history of race and racism in the United States and its impact on our present and future. It’s “a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future.”
Start with: The New, Old White Supremacist Movement
An honest and crucial collection of conversations about race and racism in America with activists, authors and leaders.
Start With: Practical Insights into Anti-Racism with Andre Henry
Hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading scholar of critical race theory, this podcast “brings intersectionality to life.”
Start with: Under the Blacklight – The Fire This Time