Amplifying Black Voices in Podcasts


Recent weeks have brought the generations-long issues of individual and systemic racism in America back to the global stage with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Dreasjon “Sean” Reed, and many more innocent Black lives at the hands of law enforcement. This issue of injustice and racism can only begin to be corrected when people begin to listen to and amplify the voices and messages of our Black communities. Our Black communities have voices and those voices must be heard. We must listen. 

One channel that is being used to house and amplify Black voices has been podcasting. The beautiful thing about the podcasting medium is it’s an open stage for anybody who wants a voice. That voice can be used to project comedy, amplify opinions, tell stories, and much more. A podcast is a stage to tell a story and allow others to tell theirs. This 5-piece content series, which will release a different article each day of this week, is meant to spotlight and amplify Black voices in podcasting across multiple genres of interest. 

Here are 9 podcasts trending this week that are speaking on racial injustice and Black oppression in America. 

1619 (The New York Times)

For those wishing to learn more about Black history, and the long trail of racial oppression in this country, you can start with the 1619 podcast, created and hosted by Nikole Hannah-Jones, an award-winning investigative reporter who covers civil rights and racial injustice for The New York Times. This audio series, released in August 2019, was created to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery and is part of an ongoing and much larger 1619 Project in which Nikole and the Times are shedding light on slavery’s true beginnings that’s not taught in most schools, and its legacy throughout American history. The story starts with the first group of enslaved Africans forcibly brought by British colonists to what is now the United States in 1619. 

Listen to the story here and amplify your favorite pieces across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

Learn how to share specific audio clips of podcasts using Backtracks.

Code Switch (NPR)

The Code Switch Podcast continues to be one of NPR’s most popular podcasts. It is hosted by journalists of color tackling the subjects of race and culture. Episodes center around taking recent events and contextualizing them into the larger conversations at hand. Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji do a fantastic job of having fearless conversations and breaking down issues in a way that includes all in the discussion. The racial lens bestowed by the hosts, and their guests, not only provides listeners with a no-filter view into the perspective of the subject of the conversation, but also welcomes others into that narrative. Highly regarded as one of the most enlightening and refreshing podcasts out there tackling the issues of race and culture, it is well worth adding to your weekly feed. 

Listen to Code Switch podcast here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

Pod Save the People (Crooked Media)

Since its debut in 2017, Pod Save the People has been a regularly trending podcast among listeners. It is hosted by well known organizer and activist DeRay Mckesson who covers topics spanning culture, social justice, and politics with guests that are experts, activists, influencers and leaders to better understand the issues at hand. DeRay and his fellow activist cohosts Brittany Packnett, Sam Sinyangwe and writer Dr. Clint Smith III, not only bring a thorough analysis and discussion of issues to the forefront of their episodes, they also talk about the ways in which their listeners can get involved. Balancing discussions with call to actions follows their mission of promoting social and political advocacy as well as providing tools and education for listeners wishing to discuss racism and inequality in their respective communities. 

Listen to Pod Save the People here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

Justice in America (The Appeal)

Justice in America, a project of The Appeal, is created and hosted by Josie Duffy Rice along with her guest hosts Darnell Moore, Donovan X. Ramsey, Derecka Purnell, and Zak Cheney Rice. Justice in America is a podcast dedicated to conversations around criminal justice reform and its impact on the underserved and people of color. The episodes focus on providing a better understanding of certain criminal justice issues in America, its impact on the underserved and people of color, and what steps can fix it. One of the most prominent pillars of systemic racism in this country is rooted in the criminal justice system and continues to drive mass incarceration in a multitude of different ways. Josie and her guest hosts tackle conversations around criminal justice issues in a way that educates their listeners on not only that particular issue at hand, but also its effect on the system as a whole. This allows listeners to walk away with a better understanding of why mass incarceration is an issue in America, why it is heavily dominated by underserved populations and people of color, as well as what reforms are needed to fix it. 

Listen to Justice in America here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay (The Ringer)

Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay is a newer podcast that recently made its debut on May 28. Van and Rachel are both influencers and TV personalities in their own rights prior to their podcast debut. They are bringing their charismatic and entertaining personalities to the mic twice a week to dissect the biggest topics in Black culture, politics and sports. The balance between comedic banter and insightful conversation keeps their listeners engaged and hungry for more.  If we’ve learned anything from the first few episodes, this dynamic duo has a lot to say and we’re definitely here to listen. 

Listen to Higher Learning with Van Lathan and Rachel Lindsay and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

The Breakdown with Shaun King (The North Star)

Shaun King is best known for his work as a civil rights activist and founder of The North Star news network, in memory of the newspaper which originally served as an abolitionist newspaper published by Frederick Douglass. He is also the creator and host of his own podcast series titled The Breakdown with Shaun King. The Breakdown is a daily unpacking of important news and topics around  injustice, racism and corruption. This podcast is a great example of an activist using the podcast medium as a stage for amplifying voices. Shaun not only unpacks important issues in his episodes, he also spotlights those who are fighting back against those issues followed by action items for his listeners to support and join them in those efforts.

Listen to The Breakdown with Shaun King here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge

Reni Eddo-Lodge released a best-selling book in 2017 titled “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race”. In her book she talks about the emotional disconnect and oblivion of white communities to the issues of racial injustice and systemic oppression. Her frustrations with the blatant and defiant inability to listen and digest the message and struggles that people of color have been fighting for so long bleeds through her writing. This book and Reni have been received with very high praises from the colored communities at large. Reni takes that writing a step further with her podcast by bringing in key figures into the conversation with blunt, informative, and honest discussions. Although this podcast is a one-off audio series from 2018, it has remained consistently relevant, regularly trending, and is well worth a listen. 

Listen to About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

The Breakfast Club (iHeartRadio)

The Breakfast Club is a podcast rendition of the broadcasted morning show on iHeartRadio hosted by DJ Envy, Angela Yee And Charlamagne Tha God!. These very entertaining cohosts engage their listeners with discussions around race, culture, personal advice, and much much more. They regularly host well known and influential guests on their show as well as impromptu callers from the general public. This trio is bound to start your morning off with endless energy, loud conversations, and very opinionated discussions. 

Listen to The Breakfast Club here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

First Name Basis Podcast

Teaching children about inclusion has become a very important, yet difficult, piece of the conversation around race and culture. Parents are constantly looking for resources and direction on how to successfully have these difficult conversations with their children. Jasmine Bradshaw tackles these discussions in her podcast in a way that’s understandable and educational for the parent. She provides parents with tools and strategies needed to talk to their little humans about race, religion, and culture. This podcast has risen quickly to the top of the Kids & Family Podcast charts and remains trending as a parent-favorite.

Listen to First Name Basis Podcast here and amplify your favorite parts across social media using the sharing feature on the Backtracks Player. 

Further Listening

Looking for more Black voices to amplify? Check out the other podcasts recently featured on the Backtracks blog. From significant Black voices in health and wellness, to Black perspectives on culture, race, society, and systemic oppression to hilarious and unique Black perspectives in comedy to notable Black figures in society and culture to much-needed discussions by Black women, Backtracks has made it a priority to promote Black voices in podcasts. In addition to being all different kinds of entertaining, educational, and challenging, choosing to amplify Black voices means choosing to stay informed while standing in solidarity with those who are unfairly marginalized and oppressed by our society on a daily basis.


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