1. Intersectionality Matters!
This podcast is hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw, a leading scholar of critical race theory and an American civil rights advocate. She works alongside Julia Sharpe-Levine, the program director of the African American Policy Forum. I was captivated by the way Crenshaw tells her own stories in a way that makes me feel as though I am with her, and eloquently explains the importance of the topics she covers. Intersectionality Matters! has 4.7 stars on Apple Podcasts, and the first of the 44-episode series introduces the podcast as exploring intersectionality through the deeper dimensions of today’s most pressing issues and movements, such as the “Say Her Name” campaign. Intersectionality Matters! helps listeners understand politics, social movements and their own lives through nuanced viewpoints and discussions with leaders in these subjects.
2. The Read
The Read is a weekly podcast hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, who chat about hip-hop and pop culture stars. The two hosts discuss the most recent news in this sphere in a more lighthearted and entertaining podcast. These episodes range from one to three hours long and cover the drama occurring in the pop culture sector in the podcast’s “Hot Tops” section with the weekly entertaining news. There are four other sectors of The Read, including Black Excellence, a sports section, Listener Letters and a mental health advice section. Listening feels as if you are overhearing your friends’ banter and jokes — this podcast is definitely a fun way to keep up with any gossip going on in the pop and hip-hop industries.
3. Humanity Archive
Historical storyteller and public educator Jermaine Fowler hosts the Humanity Archive. This podcast features deep conversations about the untold and overlooked Black stories of history such as the Great Migration, in which six million African Americans moved from the rural South to urban parts of the United States in order to escape poverty and racial persecution. Fowler has a passion for teaching and uses his platform to educate the world about a deeper, more authentic, history. He addresses how schools teach history and as more of a “wished” model than a reality — in essence, how American schools gloss over certain details of enslavement and civil rights instead of presenting the harsh reality of what Black Americans have endured. The Humanity Archive is definitely the most engaging history lesson I’ve listened to and presents history in a way that brings back the raw emotions of events, forcing you to think and challenge accepted teachings.
4. Black History Year
This podcast is put together by PushBlack, the largest Black non-profit media organization in the U.S. Launched in 2020, Black History Year is PushBlack’s politics and history podcast. In these episodes, they dive into thought-provoking stories, interviews with experts and the relationships between history and current events and politics. The podcast aims to connect activists, thinkers and histories who are left out of many conversations.
5. Witness Black History
This educational podcast was created by BBC News as part of its World Service and Witness History segments. At about eight minutes per episode, Witness Black History episodes are shorter than the other podcasts on this list. The episodes were published between 2010 and 2020 and are available indefinitely on all streaming platforms. As a woman majoring in chemistry, I found the episode that examines the contributions of Black women working with NASA particularly interesting. Other episodes also examine events that occurred through history and other particular figures in Black History that may not be well known.
6. Black on the Bluff
Black on the Bluff is a talk show hosted by college students in the Black Student Union at the University of Portland. The students discuss their personal experiences at school, offering a unique perspective into the Black student experience. For those of us at the University, this may be a very relatable podcast and a unique way to learn about shared experiences from across the country. These episodes cover issues from education systems and Black femininity to the classism faced within Black communities.
7. The Nod
The Nod tells stories of Black life throughout history and present in America, celebrating the innovation and resilience throughout Black history and culture. The Nod is put on by Gimlet Media and hosted by Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings. The pair explores stories about Blackness that are not heard often and talks to heroes and stars in Black culture, including actor Jay Ellis and executive producer and director Prentice Penny. I loved how the hosts on this show also play games and have day-to-day conversations that make episodes very immersive and fun to listen to. The podcast explores student debt, sports and reviews of political debates in episodes ranging from five minutes to an hour.
8. Dear Culture
Dear Culture uses a cultural lens to keep listeners up to date on entertainment, politics and social justice. The podcast is hosted by Gerren Keith Gaynor and Shana Pinnock from TheGrio. The hosts just celebrated reaching 100 episodes in January with a very energetic episode about how we define culture alongside film producer Deniese Davis as a guest to examine how her work in Hollywood shapes Black culture. Deniese Davis is the co-founder of Color Creative, a company that champions diverse voices and creates a pipeline for minority and female writers in Hollywood. Listening to this episode felt like sitting in on a deep conversation between a group of friends with different perspectives that are both informative and enlightening.
9. The United States of Anxiety
This podcast is hosted by “The Nation” magazine columnist Kai Wright who discusses how the country’s controversial past still resonates in today’s political and social climate. The United States of Anxiety airs live on Sunday evenings on the radio, but is also available on all podcast platforms. An episode from Jan. 20 discusses voter suppression and the way it undermines democracy — especially in the suppression of Black voters in the South since the era of Jim Crow to even today. The podcast also features honest and deep conversations about the history behind other important societal issues, ranging from critical race theory to Joe Biden’s recent promise to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court. Wright also highlights Black accomplishments, such as the work of James Reese Europe, a Black WWI veteran and jazz player, and discusses how such contributions have shaped history.
10. Code Switch
This is a free weekly podcast hosted on the American public radio network, NPR, and was named Apple Podcasts’ Show of the Year in 2020. Code Switch launched in 2016 and became one of NPR’s top podcasts after the George Floyd inspired protests in 2020. Hosted by a variety of journalists of color, Code Switch discusses race and how it permeates pop culture and, specifically, Black culture. In a recent episode, they memorialized André Leon Talley by reminiscing on his uncanny influence and contributions to fashion and by reflecting on the struggles he faced as a Black, queer man in the world of fasion. The podcast has earned 4.9 stars on Spotify and while listening, I frequently laughed out loud at some of the hosts’ quips. However, I also found their tributes and use of audio recordings from interviews before André’s death thought-provoking which prompted me to reflect on the segregation André had endured in the 1950s. You may even listen to this podcast as a homework assignment during classes here at the University — I personally listened to an episode during an anthropology class my second year.