When the country erupted in a screeching, culminating outcry in response to the racially-charged murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, the sound was deafening. In the midst of uprisings and outrage, it appeared that the voiceless were finally being heard.
Hear that? There is power in listening. It can broaden perspectives and be a fundamental step towards understanding and atonement. That’s why conversations around racism can no longer be considered taboo or tiptoed around in America. They must be had and addressed, head-on. Thankfully, there are countless podcasts that tackle this vital issue brilliantly and unapologetically—allowing listeners to open their ears and, hopefully, their minds too.
We’ve rounded up 15 of the best podcasts that put the spotlight on race, racial injustices, and the plight of Black people in America. Listen up.
Launched in 2016, this weekly show from National Public Radio (NPR) is a pioneer of the podcast platform and features a revolving door of journalists of color sharing their thoughts on race in America from every angle. Whether it’s through a pop culture, historical, or political lens, race is the cornerstone of all conversations.
Spearheaded by The New York Times reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner, Nikole Hannah-Jones, this New York Times-produced audio series digs deep into America’s ugly history: chattel slavery. Marking the 400th anniversary of the first slaves brought to Virginia, this 2019 project connects the past to the present through captivating storytelling and vivid depictions beginning with the arrival of slave ships on U.S. shores.
Every Wednesday, listeners can get a dose of reality with a side of humor from this popular blog turned podcast. Hosted by writer Andrew Ti and actress Tawny Newsome, the show centers around listener-submitted questions about whether or not their statements or actions constitute being racist. Newsflash: If you have to ask, then it probably is. The unique series manages to answer these racially sensitive inquiries with bluntness and unmatched wit. Listen and learn.
DeRay Mckesson, one of the leading civil rights activists of his generation, boldly explores cultural issues that impact people of color, but are rarely covered in mainstream media. He along with fellow activists Brittany Packnett Cunningham and Sam Sinyangwe discuss news, culture, social justice, and politics in fresh, engaging ways that keep listeners tuned in every Tuesday. The podcast also features weekly one-on-one interviews with special guests. Past guests have included Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Grammy-winning singer/songwriter John Legend.
This Duke University Center for Documentary Studies podcast—featuring activist and scholar Chenjerai Kumanyika and hosted by John Biewen—exposes the deeply embedded root causes of white supremacy and racism across the expansion of civilizations. Be sure to have a pen and pad handy because this podcast often references resources you’ll want to take note of.
Providing real solutions for social inequity within creative fields is the goal of this podcast. Hosts Simeon Coker and Kai Deveraux Lawson share dialogue on diversity and inclusion within advertising. Episodes like “Pandering for Progress” and “Black Lives Matter in Advertising” delve into the complexities of Black representation in media and marketing.
Co-hosts Chevon Drew and Hiba Elyass take listeners on an inspirational journey as they use their voices for racial justice. As vocal community organizers and activists, their unique perspectives help uplift and empower those tuning in to take action by implementing strategies from those on the front lines fighting for equality. With episodes on the importance of filling out the 2020 census and marijuana policy reform, Momentum challenges listeners to be proactive and get involved.
Hosts Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay jump headfirst into hard-hitting topics like police brutality on this new and timely podcast. In fact, its inaugural episode on May 28 discussed the death of George Floyd among other important issues facing the Black community. Listeners can tune in twice a week for cultural commentary from the hosts and guest thought leaders.
Hosted by award-winning journalist Kai Wright, this podcast gives listeners a take on current events by brilliantly tying them to the past. Wright’s extensive journalism background elevates the commentary with critical insights into social, racial, and economic injustice. In its fourth season, episodes like “The Life and Work of Ida B. Wells” and “Why COVID-19 is Killing Black People,” examine the historical intricacies of racism and how it permeates all sectors and continues to plague society today.
This Minnesota Public Radio podcast tells the story of Philando Castile, who was shot five times by a police officer after a routine traffic stop. In the 22-episode series, listeners hear the events surrounding the first police shooting to go to trial in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
This New York Times-produced podcast keeps listeners abreast of all things pop culture and newsy. Hosted by the newspaper’s two culture writers, Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, the show covers a wide variety of topics, including those that focus on Black culture. Episodes like “Being Black in the Age of Wokeness” and “Still Processing: Being Biracial" are not to be missed.
Although this podcast officially ended earlier this year, listeners can still get an insightful earful. Through commentary from hosts Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, this podcast is chock full of historical facts and interesting tidbits spanning the American Black experience. From conversations on the intersections of whiteness and beauty ideals with sociologist Sabrina Springs, author of Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia, to in-depth assessments on hip hop, these enlightening chatfests explore the dimensions of black culture.
Hosted by esteemed writer, editor, and producer Rebecca Carroll, this eye-opening and informative podcast includes 15 essential conversations on race in America. The series features influential guests like Don Lemon, CNN anchor and activist, Walter Mosely, the famed prolific crime fiction novelist, Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility, and many more.
Steeped in authenticity, journalists Leila Day and Hana Baba share their experiences as Black women living in America. With featured guests such as Emmy-winning journalist Jemele Hill, this duo confronts tough topics like the challenges of navigating careers in white, male-dominated fields and other issues facing Black women that are rarely openly discussed.
This podcast upholds and celebrates the concept of openly listening, talking, sharing and learning. Hosted by writer, editor, and artist Devyn Springer, topics like gentrification in Atlanta and how capitalism has compounded the COVID-19 pandemic, are just a couple examples of the show’s commitment to shedding light on important social justice issues.