12 Podcasts About Race You Need to Hear
Now is the time to listen, learn, and take action. Anti-racism is active—and educating ourselves can be a crucial first step. These podcasts about race will get you started and keep the conversation going.
Our world is waking up to the reality of police brutality, systemic racism, and the physical and emotional violence faced each and every day for those living in Black bodies and bodies of color. Now is the time to put in the work to actively listen, learn, and demand space for Black voices.
In the wake of protests all across the country for the deaths of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, we are all tasked with the responsibility to educate ourselves on Black history, the Black Lives Matter Movement and active anti-racism measures.
If you’re looking to make the commitment to address your own privilege, biases, and blindspots—there has never been a better time to start. It is long past time to support the Black Lives Matter Movement and become anti-racist. This collection of podcasts is nowhere near enough, but it is a place to begin.
Published by the Black Lives Matter Global Network, What Matters is a great podcast to start off your education, learn more about the current events, and open your eyes to the impact of the past and its echoes for the present. This timely podcast began broadcasting in May with interviews and first-hand narratives to “create a safe dialogue to promote freedom, justice, and collective liberation.” The podcast acts as a space to encourage understanding and exploring what is going on. What Matters provides helpful context and unfiltered opinions to allow all people to enter the conversation on what actually matters. Looking to help out? These 14 charities and organizations need your support right now.
The Diversity Gap
Host Bethany Wilkinson’s The Diversity Gap tackles “the gap between good intentions and good impact” in regards to diversity, inclusion, culture, and belonging. Each week, Wilkinson invites a different speaker to share their take on identity, personhood, and living in the world as a person of color. This podcast encourages listeners to seek out solutions and mechanisms for not only coping with but healing the wounds of injustice and inequality. She starts every episode asking her guests: “When did you first realize that you had a race or ethnicity?” and continues to delve deeply into individual experiences, victories, and struggles of each guest. With open dialogue and thought-provoking takeaways, Wilkinson often ends on a hopeful note about closing the diversity gap and celebrating different lives and cultures.
Produced by the African American Policy Forum, Intersectionality Matters! is hosted by renowned educator, civil rights advocate, and scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Crenshaw. The current season, “Under the Blacklight,” dissects the intersectionality between race, gender, poverty, illness, and culture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The podcast invites expert guests to talk about issues that are often swept under the rug or overwhelmed by other voices. She presents these issues and realities as they should be presented: unavoidably and undeniably.
Truth Be Told
Truth Be Told is an advice podcast created by KQED with host Tonya Mosley. Now in its second season, the forty-minute podcast answers audience submitted questions about topics such as the stigma around therapy for Black men, the wounds of deportation, motherhood, and surviving America in a Black body.
The episodes are personal and often funny, while simultaneously addressing difficult-to-discuss issues with sincerity and intent. Mosley is warm, personable, and conversational as she discusses heavy topics. The show aims to provide an outlet for Black people and people of color to discuss tough, taboo topics. Her care and love for those she invites on the show and those who write in are palpable—it is a show is for those who need “the friend to call after a long, exhausting day…one who gets it.”
Hosted by life-long friends Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, The Nod has transitioned from a weekly podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts to a weekday podcast on the Quibi app produced by Gimlet Media. Luse and Eddings call themselves “Blackness’ biggest fans,” and take the victories with the hardships in tandem as they reflect and celebrate all aspects of Black life and culture. The charismatic hosts use humor and candor to talk about Blackness in all capacities—from the stories that you might not often hear to the amazing Black voices and happenings worth sharing. You also need to know about these 14 amazing Black Americans you didn’t learn about in history class.
Let’s Talk About It
Let’s Talk About It typically discusses sexuality and life in the TV spotlight. However, in a recent episode called “White People” aimed at a white audience, host Taylor Nolan (of Bachelor fame) invites white guests to discuss white fragility, racism on social media, silence, and privilege. Nolan asks a white scholar and teacher, Robin DiAngelo, to discuss the ways white people can talk to other white people about privilege and anti-racism. They highlight the flawed ideology of thinking, “I can’t be racist because I am not a bad or mean person,” and the danger of denying underlying structural racism that must be acknowledged and actively worked against, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
NPR’s Code Switch podcast has been running since 2016 and refuses to shy away from any element of the conversation around race. With hosts, journalists, and guests of color, this podcast seamlessly integrates current events, news sound bites, pop culture, history, and vulnerability in its succinct half-hour podcasts. Each digestible episode is beautifully crafted and impactful while asking and answering the questions of today with important context from the past.
The New York Times builds and expands on its 1619 project with the podcast 1619. Nikole Hannah-Jones hosts this podcast that takes us all the way back to 1619, the year that the first enslaved Africans were brought to America and sold. What’s more, this podcast will show you how this past has impacted and continues to affect our present. It goes far beyond the often white-washed and incomplete version of history you were taught in school or during Black History Month, which is why learning Black history is more important than ever.
In the context of our current violence, oversight, and white supremacy—this podcast paints a necessary picture that everyone must force themselves to hear and internalize as undeniable background. This is an incredibly tough and therefore vitally important podcast for all. History is not dead and gone in the past. Actively listening to the stories of trauma, slavery, racism, violence, and hurt is not only educational in the strongest sense of the word, but crucial as it sheds light on our world through the four hundred years following 1619 and into the present.
Hosted by Hana Babe and Leila Day, The Stoop is a podcast that makes the personal universal and explains how the personal is innately political. Much like its name implies, this podcast employs carefully reported narratives to intimately explores Blackness. Each episode takes a deep dive into the many well-known yet rarely discussed realities for those in Black bodies. They span topics such as the black tax, immigrant guilt, family, hair, ethos, queerness, and being “black enough.” Now is also the time to understand why you should stop saying, “I don’t see color.”
About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge
You may remember Reni Eddo-Lodge’s name from the news. An iconic blog post sparked national attention and later a revolutionary book entitled Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. This 2018 podcast series continues the conversation about what it means to be “anti-racist” and what white people need to admit and practice as individuals and allies. She tackles the denial of racism and white privilege as it is tied to guilt, silence, and shame. While the podcast is no longer running, the history and symptoms of the systemic inequality and institutional racism are just as relevant today. Want to do something to dismantle racism? Try one of these 14 small ways you can fight racism every day.
Witness History: Witness Black History
This podcast is part of BBC World Service’s Witness History category. In this sub-series running since 2013, hosts hold conversations and interviews with those who have seen and experienced key moments in Black history firsthand. These accounts are as powerful as they are personal, amplifying Black voices and highlighting parts of the story never before heard. While there is a focus on Britain-based Black history, many episodes explore civil rights and cultural movements in the United States and around the world. Next, read these 15 essential books for understanding race relations in America.
Pod Save the People
Pod Save The People is a podcast that aims to both dig deep and span wide on issues of race activism, culture, politics, and news. Host DeRay Mckesson, alongside Brittany Packnett, Sam Sinyangwe, and Dr. Clint Smith III, invites a group of scholars, activists, leaders, and experts to concisely and passionately give listeners the information they’re searching for. The podcast weaves a complete story that discusses the recent news and past history in a necessary conversation with each other. Each episode serves as a fact- and love-driven call to action for empathy, solidarity, and activism.
Don’t stop here. Understand why desegregation didn’t put an end to racism in America. The work is ongoing, but this time can be different. We must continue to learn, listen, and push back.
For more on this important issue, see our guide to the Fight Against Racism.