8 Podcast Episodes to Help Us Keep Learning and Progressing Toward Racial Equality

UPDATED: June 7, 2023
PUBLISHED: July 30, 2020
8 Podcast Episodes to Help Us Keep Learning and Progressing Toward Racial Equality

The world looks quite different today than it did one year ago—heck, even one month ago. We’ve long passed the banana bread stage of quarantine. Today, issues surrounding equality and racial justice are top of mind, and although the conversations may be new or uncomfortable to some, I’m glad we are discussing these topics out loud. Because we cannot fix what we don’t understand, and we certainly can’t change the things we ignore.

If 2020 has taught me anything, it is that change is swift and constant. Together we can impact positive changes if we’re willing to listen, learn and put in the work. Hearing from diverse perspectives helps broaden the lens you view the world with. It helps us understand how our impact may be in opposition with our original intentions, and ultimately how we can love and support our neighbors of color in the way they need.

Here is a collection of eight podcast episodes to help you continue to listen, learn and grow, no matter what stage of the journey you’re on.

1. Tony Robbins: A Historic Conversation for Healing and Unity

In this 3-plus-hour podcast, Tony Robbins hosts an unfiltered conversation with 10 unique leaders—including global human rights leader Martin Luther King III; Sybrina Fulton, activist, author and Trayvon Martin’s mother; Doc Rivers, head coach for the Los Angeles Clippers; and many others—who share their experiences of what it is to be Black in America today. They lend their voices and exemplify how we can come together during this pivotal moment to collectively tap into love, compassion and connection to one another to build lasting progress.

If you’re looking to do more active listening to better understand this moment, this is a great place to start.

2. NPR’s Code Switch: Why Now, White People?

Founded in 2016 and hosted by journalists of color, Code Switch has a backlog of hundreds of episodes which talk through race and its impacts on society that are all worth your attention. However, one of its most recent episodes in response to the increased white activism following George Floyd’s killing is poignantly timely, as hosts Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Merajion ask their white audiences, why now? Many in the Black community fear, and rightfully so, the momentum of this moment could fade due to performative allyship—this episode calls for its white listeners to check if they are ready to continue to rally for racial justice in the long-haul.

If your Instagram feed has less #BlackLivesMatter and that concerns you, this is for you.

3. The entire 1619 series

A five-part series by the New York Times, 1619 launched in August of 2019 on the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in America. Each episode features Black authors, essayists and/or scholars, and unflinchingly details how the following 250 years of slavery still impacts our country (and world) today. The series is an eye-opening reminder of how many of us were not taught the true history of our country in grade school.

If you don’t feel equipped on how to respond to people who say, “but slavery was so long ago,” this series will help you speak confidently.

4. Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations with Lady Gaga: Your Life in Focus

Part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour, in this episode Oprah sits with Lady Gaga for a 55-minute live and incredibly honest discussion about mental health. Lady Gaga opens up about her past traumas, the importance in taking “little bites of bravery,” the role radical acceptance and kindness play in healing, and her goal to globally break the stigma surrounding asking for and accepting help for mental illness.

If you feel overwhelmed by the current state of the world, take a breath and give it a listen.

You can also listen to an earlier interview that aired in late 2019, titled “Healing Through Kindness,” which touches on similar topics.

5. Red Table Talk: Unpacking White Privilege and Prejudice

Although technically not a podcast, this 25-minute table talk is a must-see for any woman looking to support the cause of equality for ALL women. In each Red Table Talk episode, Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow and mother Gammy hold candid conversations on difficult social and cultural issues—and this powerful episode from early 2019 is no exception. With their three guests of diverse backgrounds, Rachel Cargle, Amy Newman and Justina Machado, the women discuss white privilege, how it affects the relationships between white women and women of color, and how white women can better support their sisters of color, because as Audrey Lorde once said, no woman is free until all women are free.

If you identify as a feminist, this is required.

6. Unlocking Us with Brené Brown: Brené with Ibram X. Kendi on How to Be an Antiracist

Brené Brown, courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy research professor at the University of Houston, sits down with Ibram X. Kendi, New York Times best-selling author of How to Be an Antiracist and the Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, to highlight what it means to be actively anti-racist. Their hour-long conversation shines a light on how white America has normalized Black suffering, the consequences of a collective mindset that never questioned the policies that continue to cause injustices toward the Black community, and what we can do about it now.

If you’re ready to be more than just “not racist,” this will speak to you.

Bonus points if you listen to another episode focused on why shame is not a viable social justice tool.

7. Ologies: Agnotology (IGNORANCE) with Dr. Robert Proctor

Ologies features expert insight from leaders across diverse and often quirky studies (or “ologies” if you will), and in this 68-minute episode Allie Ward virtually discusses with Stanford professor Dr. Robert Proctor, who co-edited the book Agnotology: The Making & Unmaking of Ignorance, why now seems to be the “Golden Age of Ignorance.” The episode touches on everything from the true evils of tobacco marketing; to racial injustice; how to navigate difficult conversations; and why it’s critical to dismantle the systems of willful ignorance, starting with our communities, and at times ourselves.

If you want to get a deeper look at why some people say things like, “all lives matter,” this may help answer your questions.

8. While Black: At the House – Radical Imagination

While Black describes itself with pinpoint accuracy: “A Podcast on Black Excellence with two seriously opinionated hosts bringing you the real and the sometimes raw on anything happening while black.” In this 50-minute episode, Art and Vince ask listeners to imagine what the world would look like if slavery never existed. Or if racism was cured. It’s a thought-provoking episode that breaks down the ways slavery still touches the present; how far the movement for Black equality has come; and why we should continue to use our radical imaginations and believe no matter how radical your dream feels now, “whatever you ask for is coming.”  

If you’re trying to manifest a better and more equal future, this will inspire you.

Photo by Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Megan Nicole O’Neal is a writer with a passion for storytelling, traveling and whenever possible, mixing the two. The UCLA alum lives in Los Angeles; more specifically westside coffee shops with equally strong wifi and dark roasts. Connect with Megan on Twitter at @megan_n_onealor her website mnoneal.com.