Understanding Others: Podcasts About Race and Racism

Following each acquittal of a police officer who has shot a black man, people look for answers. How did we get here? What am I missing? How do we move forward but in a better direction? Conversations can become heated. Some are experiencing raw emotions and confusion because this keeps happening over and over again. Others can’t see or face the problem because their life experiences don’t seem to fit the narrative that’s being pushed by others. 

My views have evolved over time due in large part to hearing the history and stories of others. I wouldn’t know what white privilege was if I hadn’t heard someone talk about how their life is different than mine in ways I didn’t realize were possible. As my contribution to the greater conversation I’ve gathered some of my “favorite” podcast episodes that have helped me along this journey. 

The Liturgists- Black and White: Racism in America: If you only listen to one show, this is the one to pick. Science Mike gives one of the most thorough explanations you’ll hear of how we got to this point. In typical Liturgists fashion they use story telling, guests, and music to draw you into the story.

The Twisted Sisterds- Get Over Ourselves with Michael Munckton: (Explicit) Emotions are raw as Becky, Amanda, and Michael go beyond the verdict in the Philando Castille trial. Michael talks about some of the things he thinks about differently than some of us because he is a black man and he has to worry about different things than other people. 

Reveal- Voting Rights and Wrongs: If you’ve ever wondered what the big deal is about voter ID laws then you need to hear this. Al Letson dives deep into stories of individuals who have been disenfranchised and the history behind these “new” laws. 

Reveal- Decoding Discrimination in America’s Temp Industry: As our economy changes more and more people find their way into temp jobs. It turns out that some companies will not only request a specific skill set but also a specific skin color. 

Embedded- The School: Last year there was a huge fuss in our school district when they redistricted and some people had to switch schools. School closings disproportionately effect minority neighborhoods. There are some mixed moments in this podcast but the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are real and switching from one low performing school to another won’t solve the problems these kids face. 

 
This American Life- The Problem We All Live With, Pt 1; Pt 2: There’s a lot of talk about how to help failing schools which are primarily in minority neighborhoods but there’s one thing we’ve done in the past that’s been proven to work: integration. This American Life explores why this works and why we are more segregated than ever despite court rulings. 

The Moth- Race: This isn’t a particular episode. For those unfamiliar with The Moth, it’s a show featuring true stories told live. Some of these stories are funny, others sad, and some are a little bit of everything. This link will take you to a list of their stories tagged “race”. This provides a glimpse into the real lives and personal experiences of other who have led very different lives than us. Through hearing their stories we gain insight and develop empathy. 

 
Undone- Disco Demolition Night: It seemed like a fun and innocent promotion that turned into a riot but there was racist undercurrent. This podcast explores the influence disco had on minority groups and the evolution of the music and times. 

 
More Perfect- Object Anyway: The Batson rule is intended to make it harder to shape a jury solely based on race but there are tools lawyers use to get around it. Is it a jury of your peers if none of them share the point of view you have on the world because of your race?

Hidden Brain- #Airbnbwhileblack: How Hidden Bias Shapes the Sharing Economy: More often than not, white privilege is simply not being discriminated against. This is such a simple example of a situation where white people enjoy this tiny, hidden advantage. 

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