Seeing White, Reveal, Code Switch, and More: 27 Podcasts to Educate about Race, Law Enforcement, and Community Discussion in America
Audible Feast has been on hiatus for quite some time, and will continue to be on hiatus.* However, I could not NOT speak up about tools that have helped me and can help other people take their blinders off and learn about race, law enforcement, and how to have constructive conversations with people who don’t share your beliefs. Let these podcast suggestions be an education tool that helps open minds and facilitate one-on-one discussions, where change truly happens.
Do this country a favor and educate yourself about inequalities in our society for whites and non-whites. The best way I know how to speak out is to recommend podcasts that have expanded my world view as a white person. They’re not all about whites and blacks in America, but all have absolutely impacted how I feel about racial inequality, the justice system, and communicating about our belief differences. They have helped me have more conversations about race and police, which can help move the needle. I’ll stop short of begging you to listen to these but I truly think these can be life changing.
Included are the shows’ own brief descriptions of what you’d be hearing. If I have reviewed the show on Audible Feast in the past, I will link to that review. Here is a link to a Podchaser playlist (which can play in any podcast player) with these recommendations and more.
1. Scene on Radio (Center for Documentary Studies) Seeing White “Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring. Some of this feels new, but in truth it’s an old story. Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for? Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this fourteen-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017.”
AND Season 4, The Land That Has Never Been Yet “Our season-long series will touch on concerns like authoritarianism, voter suppression and gerrymandering, foreign intervention, and the role of money in politics, but we’ll go much deeper, effectively retelling the story of the United States from its beginnings up to the present. Through field recordings and interviews with leading thinkers, we’ll tell under-told stories and explore critical questions like—How democratic was the U.S. ever meant to be, anyway? American democracy is clearly in crisis today, but . . . when was it not? Along the way, there’s a good chance that we’ll complicate, maybe upend, our listeners’ understanding of American history.”
2. United States of Anxiety (WNYC) “The United States of Anxiety is a show about the unfinished business of our history and its grip on our future. Many of the political and social arguments we’re having now started in the aftermath of the Civil War, when Americans set out to do something no one had tried before: build the world’s first multiracial democracy.”
3. Code Switch (WNYC) “What’s CODE SWITCH? It’s the fearless conversations about race that you’ve been waiting for! Hosted by journalists of color, our podcast tackles the subject of race head-on. We explore how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. This podcast makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we’re all part of the story.”
4. Closer Than They Appear (Jetty/Al Jazeera) “How do you go forward when the past is breathing down your neck? Carvell Wallace talks to Americans grappling with the state of the union while trying to reconcile his own family’s fractured history. If America is an estranged family, this show is our awkward holiday dinner.”￼
5. Pod Save the People ￼(Crooked Media) “On Pod Save the People, organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson explores news, culture, social justice, and politics with fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color. There’s also a weekly one-on-one interview with DeRay and special guests, from singer/songwriter John Legend to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. The experts, influencers, and diverse local and national leaders who come on the show go deep on social, political, and cultural issues. “
6. In the Dark (APM) Season One “The investigation into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling yielded no answers for 27 years. We investigate how law enforcement mishandled one of the most notorious child abductions in the country and how those failures fueled national anxiety about stranger danger, led to the nation’s sex-offender registries and raise questions about crime-solving accountability.”
AND Season 2 “Curtis Flowers has been tried six times for the same crime. For more than 20 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He’s won appeal after appeal, but every time, the prosecutor just tries the case again. What does the evidence reveal? And why does the justice system ignore the prosecutor’s record and keep Flowers on death row?”
7. 74 Seconds (MPR News) “74 Seconds tells the story of a July 2016 traffic stop that ended with the world watching a man die, live on their phones. This is the story of that man, Philando Castile, and the officer who is about to go on trial for his death, Jeronimo Yanez. Through comprehensive reporting, MPR News examines this intersection of race, policing, justice and safety in America. A lot can happen in 74 seconds.”
8. Tremendous Upside (APM) “What happens when an athlete’s body is in peak condition but the mind is throwing flags? On Tremendous Upside, Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Chamique Holdsclaw interviews some of the most fascinating stars in sports who, like Holdsclaw herself, have faced real mental health issues. Featuring conversations with athletes like Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest), Theo Fleury, Suzy Favor Hamilton, Briana Scurry and more, Tremendous Upside reveals a side of top athletes never shown in their highlight clips.”
9. The Uncertain Hour – initial season and this season (APM/Marketplace) “In “The Uncertain Hour” podcast, host Krissy Clark dives into one controversial topic each season to reveal the surprising origin stories of our economy. Because the things we fight the most about are the things we know the least about.” Season 1 is about welfare-must listen-and this season is called A History of Now.
10. Caught (WNYC) “All kids make dumb mistakes. But depending on your zip code, race, or just bad luck, those mistakes can have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young. In Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice, hear from kids about the moment they collided with law and order, and how it changed them forever.”
11. Latina to Latina (Lantigua Williams and Co) “In often-hilarious and always-revealing episodes, Alicia Menendez and her guests take on the challenges of existing, and then thriving, as Latinas. They talk about everything, from growing their companies and careers, caring for their families, and breaking down the systems that keep many of us out. Through the laughter and sometimes tears, these intimate conversations feel like we’re listening to and learning from our most trusted friend. Latina-owned, produced, and made with love.”
12. 70 Million (Lantigua Williams and Co) “70 MILLION AMERICANS 18+ HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD. 70 Million documents how locals are addressing the role of jails in their backyards. Our reporters travel around the country and hear from people directly impacted by their encounter with jails and adjacent policies, and from those committed to reversing those effects on people and communities. Specifically, we chronicle the progress ground-up efforts have made in diversion, bail reform, recidivism, adoption of technology and other crucial aspects of the move toward decarceration at local levels.”
13. 1619 (The New York Times) “An audio series from The Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.”
14. At Liberty (ACLU) “At Liberty is a weekly podcast from the ACLU that explores the biggest civil rights and civil liberties issues of the day.”
15. Ear Hustle (Radiotopia) “The daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.”
16. Counter Stories (MPR News) “We discuss race, identity, social justice and culture in a region grappling with demographic changes.”
17. See Something Say Something (independent) “Each week, Ahmed Ali Akbar covers everything that American Muslims are talking about right now — misrepresentation in the media, equality in the mosque, Asahd memes, and much more.”
18. Hope Chest (independent) “Hope Chest is a personal essay audio series written, produced, edited, and sound-designed by Stacia Brown. It tackles motherhood, single- and co-parenting, raising a Black daughter in America, and the impact of cultural and political happenings on the experience of parenting.”
19. Shannon Cason’s Homemade Stories (WBEZ) “Homemade Stories Podcast is short stories and commentary shared by writer/storyteller Shannon Cason. Shannon lays out his life for the listener, blemishes and all. Many of his vivid stories are insightful and true, others are imaginative works of fiction. The result is a unique storytelling experience.”
20. Sooo Many White Guys (WNYC) “Phoebe Robinson is tired of being the token black woman in an ocean of white dude comedians. So in this podcast, Phoebe’s calling the shots. She’ll host intimate, funny and super honest conversations with musicians, actors, writers and comedians who are killing it in their fields–AND who aren’t white dudes! Stay tuned for the one token white guy (it’s only fair), and a whole lot of hijinks.”
21. Still Processing (The New York Times) “Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them — to tears, awe and anger. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2020.”
22. There Goes the Neighborhood (WNYC) “A podcast about how and why gentrification happens. Season 3, produced in partnership with WLRN, Miami’s public radio station, introduces us to “climate gentrification,” reporting about the ways climate change, and our adaption to it, may seriously intensify the affordable housing crisis in many cities. In many parts of the US, black communities were pushed to low-lying flood prone areas. As Nadege Green reports, in Miami, the opposite is true. Black communities were built on high elevation away from the coast. Now because of sea level rise that high land is in demand.”
23. The Stakes (WNYC) “We live in extreme times—a climate on the verge of crisis, an economy built on inequality and a political system that feels like it’s falling apart. So, how’d we get to this point? And what happens next? From democracy to healthcare, from pop culture to the environment, The Stakes is working to understand why we live the way we do—and why it matters. Because if we can better understand the society we‘ve got, maybe we can figure out how to create one that works for more people.”
24. You Had Me at Black (independent) “You Had Me at Black is a storytelling movement reclaiming the Black narrative by passing regular people the mic to share their stories in their words. We do so through a podcast and live storytelling events. The mis- and underrepresentation of Black men and women in mainstream media affects our lives down to the most minute interactions. We highlight parts of the black experience that aren’t typically shown in the media- the innocent, carefree, heartbreaking, painful, victorious moments that make up our lives. We do so as a form of activism and liberation. Stories educate, uplift, encourage, humor, frighten, humble, and connect us. They’re how we’ve transferred history and information for thousands of years. By revealing shared experiences and celebrating differences, You Had Me at Black builds community and encourage fans to walk boldly in their own.”
25. Reveal (PRX/The Center for Investigative Reporting) “Reveal is the Peabody Award-winning investigative journalism program for public radio. We’ve heard the news, but we want to know what really happened. That’s what Reveal is all about: finding out what’s going on behind the scenes, hidden from public view.”
26. Come Through with Rebecca Carroll (WNYC) “It’s an election year, and whether people want to admit it or not, race is at the center of every issue — healthcare, jobs, climate change, the media, and more. Join host Rebecca Carroll for 15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal moment for America. She talks to great thinkers, writers, and artists about faith, representation, white fragility, and how it’s all playing out in 2020.”
27. Our Americana (Our Americana Podcast Network) “Our Americana is a podcast that explores unique small towns across America and examines the stories that impact, cultivate, and challenge community.”
Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments or contact me. This is far from an exhaustive list even of what I’ve listened to. Educate so we can affect change.
*Audible Feast will be returning soon with a new collaboration reviewing COVID-19 podcasts. Stay tuned!