The 11 Best Podcasts on Racism


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Race is often considered a touchy subject, like religion and politics, that many people don’t like to talk about. However, in recent years the conversation has taken front and center in our collective mind as tensions rise and systemic injustices are exposed. Now more than ever, it’s important to navigate this sensitive topic in order to create a world that is safe for everyone. But where do you start?

If you want to learn more about racism and how you can be antiracist, then listening to podcasts on racism is a great way to start. They can help you challenge your beliefs while educating and entertaining yourself. There are hundreds of podcasts on race with different styles, focuses, and demographics in mind.  Eleven podcasts are described below.  They are some of the best podcasts on race and racism to listen to today.


The Diversity Gap

Host: Bethany Wilkinson

Start Year: 2019

Have you ever felt as if you didn’t belong in a certain space? Has anyone ever made you feel like an outsider, whether they said something directly or not? For marginalized groups, this othering is common, especially in the workplace. The Diversity Gap podcast examines this phenomenon, revealing the ways that race impacts the way we interact with each other and think about ourselves.

Bethany Wilkinson, the host of the podcast, is no stranger to social justice issues. In addition to running The Diversity Gap Podcast, she is also the Director of Programming for Plywood People, an Atlanta nonprofit dedicated to helping startups that are bringing positivity to the community.

Bethany’s work bleeds into the message of her podcast; she wants to help organizations – and people – to close the gap between their good intentions and meaningful growth.

The Diversity Gap started in 2019 as a solution to that disparity. Wilkinson noticed that businesses and nonprofits that valued diversity would hire people from minority groups, but still maintained a workplace culture that uncomfortable, dismissive, and exclusionary.

This project began as a way to help people understand how racism is ingrained in the culture and to encourage people to truly examine themselves so that they can become more effective leaders.

Wilkinson’s guests range from activists to doctors to CEOs, but they all have one thing in common; they’re all experts in their field. This podcast, while engaging, is very formal and intellectual, and is focused on putting language to the weird feelings we have around the water cooler.

It’s a tool for people, especially those who work in a corporate or other professional settings, to create change in spaces that have traditionally been hostile to marginalized groups.

Except for a few multi-part episodes, this show is not serialized. I highly recommended checking out “The R-Word” Parts One and Two. In it, Wilkinson and her guest discuss the ways that implicit bias and racial superiority complexes affect “well-meaning” White people, and how they can combat it. These episodes will give you a good base for your antiracist journey.


Yo, Is This Racist?

Even for the ‘woke’-est, most well-intentioned person, issues of race are difficult to navigate. The social rules are changing, and many people have been in a sticky situation where they wondered if certain phrases or behaviors are offensive but aren’t sure. Enter Yo, Is This Racist?

Based on a blog with the same name, this fresh and funny podcast is perfect for Millennials and Gen Z listeners that want to be entertained as well learn. Fans send emails and voicemails asking questions like ‘Is my boyfriend’s bad joke racist?’ and “Is it problematic to dress like Moana for Halloween?’

Nine times out of ten, the answer yes, but the hosts navigate the questions with equal parts humor and candor, making you think and laugh.

Produced by Earwolf – a comedy podcast network that creates other gems such as Comedy Bang! Bang! and Factually! With Adam Conover- Yo, Is This Racist? is entertaining and illuminating.

Many people would be too embarrassed to ask if certain behaviors are faux pas, but this show takes the stigma and guesswork out of learning a better standard of social norms. In addition to answering questions, the hosts also discuss hot button issues like cultural appropriation.

Co-hosts Andrew Ti and Tawny Newsome are hilarious and have a great rapport, even when recording on Zoom. Ti started the blog on Tumblr in 2011, after a workplace encounter left him wondering about the uncomfortable questions that people have around race.

The show grew from a ten minute short to a 45-minute segment with lots of questions to answer. Newsome joined the show in 2018, and since then, its popularity has exploded, with tens of thousands of listens every day.

Yo, Is This Racist? focuses more on pop culture than political issues. It’s not the place to go to for news, but recent episodes have discussed topics like the Kenosha protests and the Goya scandal. Since its a weekly show, you can listen to them any order, so start at the newest episode and get ready to laugh!

New episodes are released on Wednesdays and can be found on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify. If you want to hear episodes that are older than six months, you’ll need Stitcher Premium to access them.


The 1619 Project Podcast

Since its release in August 2019, the critically acclaimed 1619 Project has remained in the headlines. In addition to the incredible essays, The New York Times has released a five-part podcast, each touching on a different aspect of the ways that chattel slavery shaped America, both in the past and present.

This podcast sheds light on the significant but often overlooked impact that African Americans have had on our economy and culture.

Nikole Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for her work on The 1619 Project, and you’ll understand why from the first episode. Her passion for the subject is rivaled only by her dedication to good journalism. She is thorough but not clinical, keeping her listeners completely engrossed in the story of our shared history.

However, not everyone is enthralled by The 1619 Project. Some critics call the work divisive, claiming that intensive study of the past doesn’t bring unity in the present.

Whether or not you agree with that rhetoric, this podcast is still intensely researched and lovingly produced, with fascinating subject matter.

While these episodes are not sequential, it can still be beneficial to listen to them in order. This will allow you to see the interconnected nature of history and understand that if we don’t make big changes now, our society will be doomed to repeat its mistakes.

Each episode is amazing, but the final two episodes, The Land of Our Fathers Parts One and Two, drive home the fact that we are not divorced from institutional racism. These episodes follow the story of The Provosts, a Black farming family that is fighting against unethical treatment that has driven them from their home.

They shine a light on the ways people are still harmed by racist systems with real-life examples, making Hannah-Jones’ arguments seem less abstract.

You can listen to the five-part series in its entirety on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on The New York Times website. If you feel as though you missed something, or would like to review the work more closely, the transcription is also available.


Tamarindo

Are you looking for a fun, conversational podcast with a social justice streak? Then Tamarindo was made for you! This lighthearted yet thought-provoking podcast has been featured by acclaimed outlets such as Oprah Magazine, CNN, and Mitú – and for a good reason.

Listening to this podcast makes you feel like you’re sitting at the table with friends, or hanging out after class, picking the brain of your young, hip professor.

This podcast isn’t all jokes and chisme. The conversations tackle lofty topics like race, gender, sexuality, and politics through the lens of the Latinx experience. The goal of the podcast is to bring levity to difficult conversations so that they’re both serious and accessible. Tamarindo draws from the headlines as well as the hosts’ lived experience for interesting, relevant content.

The hosts Brenda Gonzalez and Ana Shelia Victorino, are no stranger to community work. Gonzalez has over 15 years of experience in social justice work, and that passion shows in the energy that she brings to the show.

Victorino is her foil, and her background in wellness lets her bring la calma, balancing Gonzalez perfectly. The two together create the dynamic energy that earns Tamarindo its acclaim.

Tamarindo is part of Luz Collective, a digital platform dedicated to creating a space by Latinas for Latinas. This podcast keeps in line with that philosophy but can be enjoyed by people of any background.

The show is always keeping time with what’s going on in the world, so you can queue up any episode and dive into its entertaining, informative commentary.

Tamarindo is produced biweekly and can be found on almost anywhere that podcasts are streaming, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

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Seeing White

In today’s society, it’s easy to forget there was a time when the concept of race did not exist. And with White nationalism on the rise, understanding where the idea of Whiteness came from is imperative. Seeing White is a discussion of how the construct of Whiteness was created, why it was created, and who it benefits.

Seeing White challenges previously held notions of the origins of the race. It reflects on the history of racial classifications as a tool of oppression and creating a social hierarchy; then it turns the lens to the present day, and how this construct has been upheld, weaponized, and transformed.

This work is critical to the antiracist theory, making this podcast a good choice for those who want to understand the history of racial politics.

When you tune into Seeing White, you may notice that the soothing, ASMR-like voice of the podcaster is familiar. That’s because John Biewen has a thirty-year career in journalism and has been featured on other radio programs like This American Life and All Things Considered. He’s regularly joined by Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, a researcher and an associate professor at Rutgers. The pair have a scholarly, informative way about them that brings logic to a sensitive, emotional topic.

This podcast has 14 parts that were recorded between February and August 2017. The episodes can be listened to in any order, but a great starter episode is How Race Was Made. In it, they examine the whens and whys of the invention of racial classification and its impact on our nation in its fledgling days.

Seeing White can be found on iTunes, Spotify, and the SceneOn Radio website.


Identity Politics

If you move in social justice spaces, then you’ve probably heard the term intersectionality being used a lot. Intersectionality is more than a hot button word on social media. The reality is that many people are navigating multiple marginalized identities at one time, magnifying their struggles and unique experiences.

Identity Politics is a deep dive into the personal experiences of a pair of women living with these intersectionalities.

Identity Politics is hosted by two Black Muslim women who know firsthand the ways that different identities can combine and clash. The two have met with critical acclaim for their fresh perspectives on everything from pop culture to politics.

They also weave their experience as Black Muslims into the very fabric of the show, touching on the debates within the community and the ways that Black Muslims are dismissed from both groups.

Identity Politics was started in 2016 by Ikhlas Saleem as a way to amplify the voice of Black Muslim women. Saleem and her co-host Makkah Ali both have years of experience with nonprofits, community organizations, and content creation.

Their work has been featured in everything from Buzzfeed to The New York Times. But beyond their education and accolades, it is the bonds of genuine friendship and camaraderie that give Identity Politics its lift.

Like several other podcasts on this list, Identity Politics is a weekly show. However, instead of news, they focus on broader topics like finding love or the impact of food on the community. They’ve had a myriad of guests, from comedian Ramy Youssef to Dr. Su’ad Abdul Kabeer on the show, each one bringing their unique experience as a Muslim in America.


Code Switch

Code Switch bills itself as ‘the fearless conversation about race that you’ve been waiting for’ and it delivers! This witty podcast from NPR tackles a wide array of topics, from history to politics to pop culture, including us all in the conversation. The show examines the collision of race and culture and the ways they affect our lives.

Code Switch began in 2013 as a blog that provided commentary on how race and identity are experienced in America. The team made up of journalists of different races, genders, and ages occasionally contributed to different NPR radio programs.

In 2016 the podcast was launched, steadily growing in popularity. In recent months, Code Switch became one of NPR’s most popular podcasts, even reaching #1 on Apple Podcasts.

The hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby, have been with the project from the start – Demby even wrote the first blog post. The pair are the epitome of NPR’s style – intelligent and succinct. They both bring journalistic experience as well as personal lived experience to the show and give listeners insight into how their growing up shaped their present lives.

The conversations on Code Switch vary from current events to entertainment. Recent topics included Black Lives Matter protests, the best type of books to read in quarantine, and the NBA strike. Code Switch can help you understand how issues of race and social justice affect everything that happens in our world, and how people of color learn to adapt and resist.

Code Switch can be found on NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Pocket Casts. New episodes are released on Wednesdays.

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 Text across the image says, "There are hundreds of podcasts on race with different styles, focuses and demographics in mind."

Nice White Parents

The state of American public schools has always been a contentious issue, especially in recent years. It’s no secret that Black and Brown children are disproportionately affected by struggling schools.

Some people think improving schools comes down to the ‘right types’ attending. But who decides who the right types are, and what happens when they infiltrate a school?

Nice White Parents, a podcast presented by Serial and The New York Times, is a five-part series that shows how even well-intentioned White people can harm communities of color. It follows the history of a New York Public School over 60 years, showing how the city uprooted and steamrolled its Black and Brown students to appease White parents.

Chana Joffe- Walt was a producer on This American Life, and this work led her to the reporting that inspired Nice White Parents. Her own experiences as a mother and as a journalist caused her to explore the ways that history was repeating itself in this neighborhood school, and the ways the cycle can be broken.

In addition to the podcast, there is a discussion guide, reading list, and related articles to help understand the context of the story.

Analyzing this podcast would be a great way to shake up a book club; it makes a great starting point to challenge your idea of who the ‘right kind’ of people are and who these distinctions help and harm.

Nice White Parents will quickly become something you recommend to others and something that sticks with you for a long time after the last episode ends.

Unlike many of the other shows on this list, Nice White Parents must be listened to in sequence. Each episode lays the framework for the next, and it is difficult to understand the problems and solutions separate from each other. The good news? Nice White Parents is so well done that you can binge it in an afternoon.


Asian Enough

Asian- Americans, viewed for decades as ‘the model minority,’ are often left out of conversations surrounding race. Although recent xenophobia has propelled discussions of anti-Asian sentiment to the forefront, there is not much-documented discussion of their experience in mainstream media. Asian Enough is here to change that.

Co-hosts Jen Yamato and Frank Shyon are both reporters for the Los Angeles Times. On their show, they have healthy discussions about cultural appropriation and representation, laugh over “Bad Asian Confessions,” and talk about the ways societal expectations shaped them – for better or for worse.

They also interview a different guest each episode, inviting them to share their stories and unpack their experiences as Asian Americans.

Asian Enough aims to address the entire AAPI diaspora and show how their identities are varied and complex. Recent guests have included Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, joining to discuss her upbringing as someone with both Indian and Jamaican heritage and how the government should address racism.

Newbies to Asian Enough can jump in at any episode. They won’t be far behind – the show began in March 2020, and it shows no signs of stopping. Asian Enough airs on Tuesdays and can be found in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and the Art19 website.


Pod Save the People       

If you’re looking for a newsy podcast with a modern feel, Pod Save the People should be on your radar. Pod Save the People is a friendly roundtable focusing on stories that are overlooked by the news. The topics can range from protests to veganism, but they will all relate to issues of race and social justice.

If you’ve been paying attention to activism and social justice issues over the past few years, then you’ve likely heard of activist DeRay McKesson, or at least seen his iconic blue vest. McKesson is joined by co-hosts Sam Sinyangwe, Kaya Henderson, and De’Ara Balenger, all of whom are involved in social justice activism in their own way.

The four of them balance each other and provide amusing yet stimulating conversations on everything from police reform to the public school crisis.

In addition to the hot topics and witty banter, McKesson interviews a different guest each week. They’re often directly involved in politics and social justice work and can bring an insider’s perspective or answer questions about their work.

Some names, like Soledad O’Brien, you may recognize. Many you won’t, and it’s eye-opening to see how many people are involved in the never-ending fight for social equity.

The emphasis is less on critical race theory and more on current events. While you will learn about racism, this podcast is produced less as a teaching tool and more as a news source for Black people and other marginalized groups that don’t see themselves represented in mainstream news.

Pod Save the People releases episodes on Tuesdays. Find it on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and Tune In.


Come Through

In 2020. Americans saw lots of division in race, politics, communities and even at our family dinner tables.  And we’ve had lots of conversations and disagreements about these topics—that’s where Come Through comes in.

Come Through sparks the complicated conversations we need to have about things like free speech, mental illness, and climate change,  as well as how race shows up or impacts each of those areas.

Unlike other podcasts that were created as a general overview of issues around race, Come Through was created for this exact moment in time.

The episodes are lauded as ’15 essential conversations about race in a pivotal year for America’, and the topics are ripped straight from the headlines. However, the journalistic style makes this podcast feel timeless, and it’s one that you’ll be revisiting long after the year is over.

Rebecca Carroll, the host of Come Through, is a culture critic, editor, and columnist. Her area of focus is Blackness in America, and her expertise allows her to craft her interviews with thoughtfulness and precision. Her guests include great thinkers, writers, and artists of our age, such as Walter Mosley and Ava DuVernay. Carroll isn’t afraid to ask the hard questions or to weave common experiences with personal narrative in a way that makes the listener hang on her every word.

Each episode is a standalone conversation, so you can begin with whatever topic interests you. If you aren’t sure where to begin, the eighth episode, ‘Call it a Lynching,’ delves into the murder of Ahmad Arbery and the resulting outcry, but it’s more than that. It’s a discussion of the real fear that Black Americans have for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.

Come Through is produced by WNYC, a hub of podcasts and audio entertainment that has produced popular programs such as Radiolab and 2 Dope Queens. The fifteenth and final episode of Come Through was released on July 7, 2020. You can catch up on each riveting interview wherever you listen to podcasts.


Final Thoughts

There is a wide variety of podcasts that discuss race. Whether you want to learn more about racism or if you are looking for different perspectives on current news events, there is something for you. Do a little research before you listen to make sure it’s the right feel for you and be ready for enlightenment with listening ears and an open mind.


Author

  • Writing allows me to provide useful information in a way that is easy to grasp. I hope people are able to use my articles as a springboard for learning, advocating and advancing the causes they believe in.

Shenetta Webster

Writing allows me to provide useful information in a way that is easy to grasp. I hope people are able to use my articles as a springboard for learning, advocating and advancing the causes they believe in.

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