If you need to educate yourself on topics related to social justice, if you need to hear inspirational stories from activists doing the work and if you need to find ways in which you too can become involved in making a change for the better, then there is a podcast out there for you.
My 70 minute commute to work provides me with a great opportunity to educate myself and get some free professional development tailored to my individual needs. I use the Stitcher app to play podcasts as it allows me to collate playlists based on my interests, with one of those interests being social justice and improving my ability to have brave conversations about race, gender and inequity. Although I have almost 30 podcasts saved into this playlist, here are the 10 podcasts that I think you need to check out considering the current state of the nation. If you haven’t done so already I urge you to listen, reflect and take action.
Just as I recommend White Fragility to people looking for their first book to dive into, this podcast is where I suggest you start your audio journey. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2020, 1619 is the five part New York Times audio series, written and hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that examined the long shadow of American slavery. The accompanying website is awesome and includes extended links for you to explore and continue your anti-racist journey.
Pod Save The People
From Crooked Media, the company founded by former top Barack Obama staffers, Pod Save the People, is hosted by organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson. Stacked with journalistic talent, the podcast explores news, culture, social justice, and politics. DeRay is joined by fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe, and writer Dr. Clint Smith. They offer a unique take on the news, with a special focus on overlooked stories and topics that often impact people of color.
There’s also a weekly one-on-one interview with DeRay and special guests – experts, influencers, and diverse local and national leaders who go deep on social, political, and cultural issues.
Code Switch is the podcast that I’ve been listening to since eagerly tuning in to week 1! It is famous for its fearless conversations about race. Hosted by journalists of color, the podcast tackles the subject of race head-on, exploring how it impacts every part of society — from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. The podcast “makes ALL OF US part of the conversation — because we’re all part of the story.”
As a PE teacher, this episode from 2016 is still one of my favorites, examining what it means to be a person of color outdoors.
Stay Tuned With Preet
Stay Tuned With Preet is the podcast that I turn to when I need the issues of the week broken down clearly so that I understand them. The host, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, has a tremendous way with words and thoughtfully examines legal topics in the news, engaging thought leaders in a podcast about power, policy, and justice.
Scene on Radio (Seeing White: Season 2)
Scene on Radio is the Peabody-nominated podcast from the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University. Each season has a different theme, and each season is AMAZING. Season 2 explored “Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Unending racial inequity in schools, housing, criminal justice, and hiring.” The 14 part series also includes a study guide with general questions in addition to episode specific questions.
Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw’s new podcast, Intersectionality Matters. Featuring on the ground interviews with some of the world’s most innovative activists, artists, and scholars, each episode will explore a different topic through an intersectional lens, ranging from the Supreme Court to grassroots activism in Brazil and the Congo to #SayHerName and the future of the #MeToo campaign. This podcast is a slow burn – just 20 episodes in the first year, but recently they have ramped up the frequency of episodes and hope that this momentum continues as we head towards November 3rd.
Teaching Hard History
What we don’t know about American slavery hurts us all. From Teaching Tolerance, providers of outstanding social justice and anti-bias resources, and host Hasan Kwame Jeffries, Teaching Hard History brings us the lessons we should have learned in school through the voices of leading scholars and educators. Every episode looks at the teaching of slavery from a slightly different angle, with topics like Slavery in the Supreme Court, Slavery and the Northern Economy, and Slave Resistance, with each topic explored by one prominent history scholar.
Make sure you visit their site, check out their resources and sign up for their free magazine.
The Break Down
Join Shaun King on The Break Down as he unpacks the most important stories of injustice, racism and corruption, but also tells you who’s fighting back and how you can support and join them with practical action steps.
Podcast selections are personal, and I thought long and hard about sharing this one. I know that Shaun King has come under criticism but I do appreciate his voice, and the brevity of many of these episodes, for me, can make the weighty topics easier to digest.
The Mother Jones Podcast
Each episode of The Mother Jones podcast goes deep on a big story you’ll definitely want to hear more about. They share with you their best investigations (think private prisons, electoral skullduggery, Dark Money, and Trump’s Russia connections), and informative interviews with reporters and newsmakers. The podcast aims to make your week more informed with the stories that really matter.
This episode is a great example of their work. Listen to Dr Ibram Kendi talk about how deeply racism is woven into the fabric of society. You have read his latest book, right? Reading it was the first time I had ever considered the notion of anti-racism.
Edge of Sports
This is very much a personal choice as I could have added so many more podcasts to this post, but as an ex-athlete and a teacher of physical education, this podcast combines two of my passion: sports and politics. I appreciate Dave’s profiling of athlete-activists, many of whom have shared stories about which I had previously been ignorant.
Zirin’s book A People’s History of Sports in the United States has been on my list of books-I-own-but-still-haven’t-finished-reading for far too long!
This list is in no way exhaustive and although, as I previously mentioned, my complete list of social justice podcasts (above) is over thirty, I know there are so many more great podcasts out there. If I have missed one of your favorites PLEASE leave a comment down below.
Race, Racism and Rebellion: If you are looking for a list of similarly themed books to check out, this list continues to add titles to it quicker than I can read them, but there should be something here that catches your eye.
Note: I share these resources, not to be performative, but to amplify the voices of the journalists and activists that inspire me. As I continue my anti-racist journey I welcome all comments so that I can best serve my students and my community.