3 Podcasts that Highlight Marginalized Voices

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Patrick Breitenbach
By Abby Ivory-Ganja

I love podcasts. Seriously, I could babble about them for days. One time our Membership Development Chair, Casey, started talking about pizza rat, and I found a way to make it about podcasts. (But I think about this episode of Reply All so often.) One of my favorite things about podcasts is how they can tell stories from marginalized identities.

Another Round blows me away regularly. Hosted by two women of color and made by BuzzFeed, Heben and Tracy drink while discussing topics deeply relevant to me: Beyonce, self-care, and career tips. They are hilarious and silly at times, but writing them off as that is a huge mistake.

Their interviewees are often people of color, like in a recent episode, they hosted a live show at the University of Michigan and talked to Tunde Olaniran, a rapper based out of Flint, Michigan. Media coverage of Flint has receded, but Heben and Tracy use the show’s platform to hear from someone living through Flint’s water crisis.

“The water’s still not okay.” Olaniran said, “I take really short showers, but I know my water’s not safe.”

This portion of the interview is tough to listen to (it starts around 19 minutes), but Heben and Tracy remind me that I can always do better.

This probably isn’t a total shock to make the list, but I want to talk about two episodes in particular: The Problem We All Live With Part One and Part Two. Nikole Hannah-Jones digs into school segregation that disproportionately hurts black kids--some of it right here in Missouri. Part One made me sit in my car in a mall parking lot. Often the goal of audio storytelling, I wouldn’t have gotten out of my car for anything.

On the Longform Podcast, Jones talks about a moment in the TAL piece where she interviews the superintendent of a school district in St. Louis that’s been unaccredited. She asks him if black students in Missouri are getting an equal education, and he says, “I don’t know.”

Jones’ reporting in ProPublica and the New York Times also deals with school segregation and are equally important.  But there’s something incredible about hearing the voice behind the words when the voice says something you can’t believe.  

At long last, NPR’s blog on race and identity has a podcast! There are only a few episodes, but they are already thoughtful, intentional, and challenging. In one episode, Kat Chow reports on the representation of Asian-Americans on TV. ABC gave viewers All-American Girl starring Margaret Cho and centered around an Asian-American family in 1994 (a year before I was born). It had one season, and it would be 20 years before an Asian-Asian family would be the focus of another TV show. In 2015, ABC gave viewers Fresh Off the Boat.

Chow talks about how complicated representation can be, something I never have to think about as a white person. That’s what Code Switch does nearly every time I interact with it. Pushing listeners to confront what can often be uncomfortable while telling good stories makes Code Switch a must-listen in my book.

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