Months after the emergence of COVID–19, it's become easy to fall back into our usual habits and cease making a meaningful effort to understand how the pandemic has exacerbated issues of racism and discrimination in our society. For those who lament not having enough time to read an entire book or to intently watch a film, podcasts are a great way to stay informed on the go. Here is a list of podcasts that are taking on the issue of racism and the struggles surrounding cultural identities in America.
Code Switch, from NPR
Tune into the fearless conversations about race between hosts Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby—journalists of color who are looking to tackle systemic injustice head–on. Code Switch tackles the subject of race, exploring its impacts in politics, pop culture, history, sports, and everything in between. Amidst last summer's George Floyd protests, the podcast saw a surge in popularity. As an Asian American, I particularly appreciated their “When Xenophobia Spreads like a Virus” episode, and would highly encourage everyone to be informed of the anti–Asian discrimination that has followed the coronavirus' spread from China.
Floodlines, from The Atlantic
Floodlines is an audio documentary about Hurricane Katrina, released in entirety on March 11, two months after the first COVID–19 case was detected in the United States. This podcast examines how the effects of Hurricane Katrina were made exponentially worse by a poor government response—arguably akin to what we are experiencing today. Reported and hosted by staff writer Vann R. Newkirk II, this re–telling of the Katrina narrative from the perspective New Orleanians, particularly the Black community, highlights how a history plagued by inequity stands to repeat itself.
Self Evident: Asian American’s Stories, from Self Evident Media
Self Evident is drawing necessary attention to the voices of the 22 million Asian Americans residing in the United States by answering the vital questions of our time. A thoughtful reconstruction of the social and political narratives surrounding Asian Americans of the past, present, and predicted future, each episode targets specific communities within the Asian diaspora in America. A relatively new podcast hosted by Cathy Erway, it has received attention for all the right reasons.
Throughline, from NPR
For those who feel that they're missing the historical background necessary to understand current issues, this is the podcast for you. Throughline, which highlights the fact that the past is never truly the past, covers the roots of many of today's hot–button issues—from vaccination and labor exploitation in South America to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Each week, the hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei will give you the perspective often missing from history textbooks to help you understand conflicts dominating the present.
Nancy, from WNYC Studios
Hosted by Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, Nancy features narratives and conversations surrounding the queer experience, how we decide to define ourselves, and the journey it takes to do so. Though the series' last episode was aired at the end of June, there are still five seasons for you to catch up on to learn more about what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community today. Queer podcasting is somewhat uncommon, even more so if it features Asian American hosts. I highly recommend listening to the “Taiwan!” episode, where one of the co–hosts, Tu, returns to Taiwan in an attempt to explain her sexuality to members of her community who may be close–minded.
Here are some episodes from other podcasts I recommend:
1619: The Fight for a True Democracy, from The New York Times
Code Switch: The Black Table at the Big Tent, from NPR
Code Switch: One Korean American’s Reckoning, from NPR
The Bottom Line: How to Build a Racially Diverse Business, from BBC One
Rock the Boat: How Do We Ally? Talk with Ed Pokropski and Galen Reeves-Darby, from Rock the Boat Media
Asian Boss Girl: Black Lives Matter and Allyship, from Personal Journals
It's important to listen to diverse perspectives. After all, we all have different roots and experiences. Though we may not always agree, an awareness of other viewpoints can help foster meaningful change. Plug in your headphones and start listening.