It is important to uplift the podcasts that seek to educate and engage the listener beyond the common, mainstream political dialog.
Podcasts have become an increasingly popular medium of communication, being used for entertainment, news and political commentary, and educational purposes.
Finding a good podcast to get into can be difficult as you search through the sea of podcasts that exist on multiple platforms today. Of course, recognizing the rising popularity of the podcast format means recognizing its rising power for political education and holding important conversations. Podcasts covering a range of topics such as race, gender, history, literature, and many other things exist out there, and it is important to uplift the ones that seek to educate and engage the listener beyond the common, mainstream political dialog.
Below I have listed my top 10 favorite podcasts (in no particular order) that you can listen to while driving in the car, cleaning your house, or in the background of your study session.
I first came across the Delete Your Account podcast a few months ago when I listened to their “Black and Pink” episode, which covered the prison industrial complex, the plight of queer and trans people within prisons, and prison abolition organizing, among other things. The podcast is hosted by Roqayah Chamseddine and Kumars Salehi, and covers politics, pop cultures, and organizing, with interviews from several incredible guests most weeks. Make sure to listen to episode 63 “Punching Nazis,” where Drexel professor George Ciccariello-Maher debates Intercept reporter Lee Fang; it’s a must-listen, and the dragging is delicious!
In Politically ReActive, two left-leaning comedians take on politics. W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu often hold very critical conversations on race, current events, the president, and everything else happening in the world, all with touches of comedy to get you through. Season two is described as the two comedians working to “navigate the dumpster fire that is the US political landscape.” Make sure to check out their most recent episode of seasons two which features Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor and Mustafa Santiago Ali to discuss free speech, racism, disaster capitalism, and movement building.
Black Agenda Report is such a crucial platform for Black leftists, because it’s one of the only radically left Black platforms that exists. Barring the liberalism nearly always found in Black publications, Black Agenda Report doesn’t shy away from its anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, pro-Black written and audio content. They update their SoundCloud page frequently with interviews, news briefings, and audio from events such as lectures and panels. One of the most important podcasts I’ve listened to by Black Agenda Report is the interview with Cynthia McKinney from a few months ago on which she discusses why Hillary supporters are not the left.
Hosted by Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein, Beyond Prisons is a podcasts which focuses on our carceral state, and uplifts the voices of those directly impacted by the system of incarceration and/or those organizes against it. This podcast is an important resource for discussing, challenging, and normalizing the theories and praxis of prison abolition. With discussions that focus on the conditions within prisons, interviews with wonderful academics and activists, conversations on books, theory, and protest, each episode is deftly crafted and important. Episode 3, “Are Prisons Obsolete” covers the groundbreaking book by Angela Davis of the same title which explores mass incarceration and prison abolition; make sure to give it a listen.
Unauthorized Disclosure is a weekly podcast hosted by journalists Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola. Each episode features interviews of folks whose voices we normally don’t hear in mainstream media, from organizers to authors and academics, unearthing critical conversations on current events. Their June interview with Abby Martin and Michael Prysner on Venezuela, particularly the right-wing propaganda, the citizens participatory democracy, and the opposition violence, is a great listen for folks wanting to know more about the situation occurring in Venezuela.
The Never Before podcast with Janet Mock is an incredibly touching and intriguing conversation series which features Mock interviewing some of pop culture’s biggest and most controversial names. The interviewees include Tina Knowles-Lawson, Brandon Miller (AKA Joanne the Scammer), Amiyah Scott, and many more in an interesting selection of pop culture’s most relevant people. The talk cover everything from fame, gender, and advice, to family history, race, and feminism. Surprisingly, I found her interview with controversial feminist actress Lena Dunham to be one of the most interesting, as well as her talk with actress Gabourey Sidibe.
PoC features four friends of color (Rakeem Cunningham, John Cagandahan, Baize White, & Rene Hernandez) coming to together to give their opinions on “pop culture, social justice, and bullshit.” The topics are completely random each week, and while they make you laugh until your side hurts sometimes, they always leave you reflecting hard on the topics they discuss. I recommend episode 18, “It’s My White and I Want It Now!” where they discuss politics and interracial dating, among other things.
Citations Needed is a high quality podcast hosted by Nima Shirazi and Adam Johnson which covers history, current events, the media, and news briefs. The power in Citations Needed comes in Nima and Adam’s ability to concisely tell narratives in an engaging way; their episode on the creation of the ’superpredator’ being a perfect example. It’s like the History Channel for the left, mixed with a news-style relevancy which is brought by their dynamic guests. Episode 5 “Purging Socialists of Color From History” is one of those episodes that left me shouting “yasss!” multiple times, as they discuss the erasure of leftists of color by the dominant liberal establishment.
The Savage Life by sex therapist Raquel Savage covers all things sex, especially topics of sex work, Black feminism, pleasure, sexual health, and wildly hilarious “hoe stories.” It’s a wonderfully educating part of feminism’s relatively new pro-hoe movement which seeks to uplift sex work, the voices of women on sex, exploitation, and abuse, and ultimately abolish the shame surrounding women and sex. Raquel discusses everything you didn’t know you needed to know on each episode, but if I had to pick a favorite episode it would be “What’s Your Price” from season 3.
Although their audio files on SoundCloud have not been updated in some time now, the Project NIA Audio collection still exists as a powerful resource focusing on advocacy, organizing, education, and research with the long-term goal of ending youth incarceration. Project NIA Audio’s work dissects the problems, conditions, and the reliance on arrest, detention, and incarceration of Black and brown youth, and is focused on reducing youth crime and violence. The audio files include clips from panels, previously incarcerated folks discussing their experiences, and more.