20 Podcasts About Race You Need to Hear
Learning about race relations in America has to be a deliberate choice, and the responsibility falls on all of us. These podcasts can help get you started and keep the conversation going.
A crucial first step
Learning about race relations in America is not a Black issue. It’s also not a Latinx, Asian American, or White issue. It’s an American issue and a global issue, and it has to be a deliberate choice. It’s not enough to shake your head at the world’s many injustices and put a few well-intentioned hashtags on social media. If you’re looking to do your part and become truly anti-racist, the following podcasts about race can point you in the right direction.
Some of these shows venture into territory shared by the best political podcasts and history podcasts, while others focus more on the cultural aspect of being non-White in America. On this list, you’ll also find a range of approaches that vary from overt discussions about race to more wide-ranging conversations about life that just happen to include race. The bottom line: They’re among the best podcasts around, and they’ll hook you from the start as they alternately educate, inspire, and enlighten.
Pod Save the People
Pod Save the People aims to both dig deep and span wide on issues of race activism, culture, politics, and news. Host DeRay Mckesson, alongside Sam Sinyangwe, Kaya Henderson, and De’Ara Balenger, invites a group of scholars, activists, leaders, and experts to give listeners the information they’re searching for. The podcast tells a complete story that weaves the recent news with past history. If this inspires you to put your money where your mouth is, here’s where you can donate to Black Lives Matter causes.
Yo, Is This Racist?
Created by Andrew Ti and cohosted by actress and musician Tawny Newsome, this podcast doesn’t shy away from tackling tricky questions about race. In fact, each episode does just that, answering questions posed by listeners about whether or not something is actually racist. In an episode called “I’m Not Trying to Put the Plantation on Blast, but…,” Newsome discovers the plantation that her family is from and also delves into whether visiting plantations for leisure is problematic, something that’s been discussed a lot in mainstream media lately. As for Ti, he is not new to writing content designed to shift and possibly change paradigms around race, and he does it really, really well.
Silence Is Not an Option
“America is in crisis right now. A lot of people want to help, but have no idea where to start.” That’s how the description of this CNN podcast begins, and according to host Don Lemmon, that starting place is right here with this podcast about race that “[digs] deep into the reality of being Black and Brown in America.” Episodes move fluidly between history and people you probably don’t know about—like Claudette Colvin, the 15-year-old who refused to give up her seat on a bus months before Rosa Parks did the same thing, and gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin—to Black women’s role in the 2020 election and how to talk to kids about racism.
This podcast is the place where culture, news, and race often intersect. Hosted by New York Times writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris, it covers everything from pop culture icons like Tina Turner and Little Nas X to the rise in anti-Asian violence, the use of the N word, and the aftermath of the Derek Chauvin trial. It’s one of the podcasts about race that will draw you in immediately and have you thinking about the conversation for days.
The Diversity Gap
Host Bethaney Wilkinson’s podcast tackles “the gap between good intentions and good impact” in regard to diversity, inclusion, culture, and belonging. In the show’s 34 episodes, Wilkinson invites guests to share their takes on identity, personhood, and living in the world as a person of color. She starts every episode asking her guest, “When did you first realize that you had a race or ethnicity?” and then delves into that individual’s experiences, victories, and struggles. With open dialogue and thought-provoking takeaways, Wilkinson often ends on a hopeful note about closing the diversity gap and celebrating different lives and cultures. The world’s ongoing issues show why Black History Month shouldn’t be just a single month.
Produced by the African American Policy Forum, this podcast about race is hosted by civil rights advocate and critical race theory scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw. In it, experts talk about issues that are often swept under the rug or overwhelmed by other voices, and Crenshaw engages them in unflinchingly honest discussions. The show’s 2020 series “Under the Blacklight,” for example, dissected the intersectionality between race, gender, poverty, illness, and culture in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. FYI, here’s how to listen to podcasts for free.
Hosted by life-long friends Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings, who call themselves “Blackness’ biggest fans,” this podcast explores the victories and the hardships of being Black in America. The charismatic hosts use humor and candor to talk about Blackness in all capacities—from the stories that you might not often hear to the amazing Black voices and happenings worth sharing. Here are more of the best podcasts on Spotify in every category.
Let’s Talk About It
Let’s Talk About It typically discusses sexuality and life in the TV spotlight. However, host Taylor Nolan (of Bachelor fame) does touch on issues of race somewhat frequently. For example, one recent episode focused on racial wellness and “internalized White supremacy,” while a four-part series from last year discussed the realities and struggles of being biracial in America. Another episode called “White People” invited White guests to discuss White fragility, privilege, and the dangers of denying structural racism in society.
NPR’s Code Switch has been running since 2016 and refuses to shy away from any element of the conversation around race. Hosted by journalists of color, this podcast seamlessly integrates current events, newsy sound bites, pop culture, and history in its succinct 30-minute podcasts. Each digestible episode is beautifully crafted and impactful as it asks and answers today’s most pressing questions while bringing in important context from the past. In addition to listening to these podcasts about race, expand your knowledge by learning about these Black Americans that history books left out.
The New York Times expands on its 1619 project with this six-episode podcast. Host Nikole Hannah-Jones takes us all the way back to 1619, the year that the first enslaved Africans were brought to America and sold, then shows how this past continues to affect our present. It goes far beyond the often whitewashed and incomplete version of history you were taught in school and paints an important picture everyone needs to see.
Hosted by Hana Babe and Leila Day, The Stoop makes the personal universal and explains how the personal is innately political. With carefully reported narratives that intimately explore Blackness, each episode takes a deep dive into the many well-known yet rarely discussed realities for those in Black bodies. They span topics such as the Black tax, immigrant guilt, family, hair, ethos, queerness, and being “Black enough.”
You may remember Reni Eddo-Lodge’s name from the news. An iconic blog post sparked national attention and later a book called Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. This 2018 podcast series continues the conversation about what it means to be anti-racist and what White people need to do as individuals and allies. In doing so, she tackles the denial of racism and White privilege as it is tied to guilt, silence, and shame. Want to do something to dismantle racism? Try one of these small ways you can fight racism every day.
Witness History: Witness Black History
This podcast is part of BBC World Service’s Witness History category. In this sub-series running since 2013, hosts hold conversations and interviews with those who have seen and experienced key moments in Black history firsthand. These accounts are as powerful as they are personal, amplifying Black voices and highlighting parts of the story never before heard. While there is a focus on U.K.-based Black history, many episodes explore civil rights and cultural movements in the United States and around the world. Don’t miss these essential books for understanding race relations in America.
Small Doses with Amanda Seales
Many know Amanda Seales as Tiffany Dubois from the popular show Insecure, but Seales has been around for a while as an on-air personality, comedian, and actress who uses her platform to speak out about social inequity, racial injustice, and important issues in pop culture. And she tells it like it is—unapologetically. In this podcast, she speaks about race, life, and so much more from a Black female perspective. Some of her past episodes cover the “side effects” of Black History Month, Black power, and watching the January 6th insurrection as a Black American.
The Michelle Obama Podcast
She’s one of America’s favorite First Ladies, and she’s also a Black woman, mom, and lawyer who has always been very secure in her own identity. This show, which has been around since the summer of 2020, is not one of your typical podcasts about race. It certainly does not shy away from heavier topics such as the pandemic and anti-racism protests, but it’s also filled with thought-provoking, sophisticated conversations about all aspects of life—from parenting to friendship to mentorship. It’s like listening to a good friend having deep conversations with loved ones…if your good friend just so happened to be Michelle Obama.
Okay, Now Listen
Hosted by Scottie Beam and Sylvia Obell, Okay, Now Listen is a biweekly podcast that discusses all things hot and trending predominantly in Black culture, film and television, and more. The topics on the show are modern and hip, and the hosts keep it real. For example, the episode “Okay, Are Y’all Ready for the Colorism Convo?” does not shy away from a candid discussion about race and colorism from a Black, female perspective. (The show’s content is all written and edited by Black women, by the way.) While race is not addressed in every episode, this podcast gives space for Black hosts to be their unedited selves.
Seeing White Podcast Series
Hosted by producer John Biewen, Seeing White delves into the history of Whiteness in America. As a White man, his goal is to inspire White listeners to reexamine their place and identity in the world and dismantle the attitudes of otherness that White people may have about race. In the process, topics like sexism and the patriarchy are also woven into the show that comes from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Las Doctoras is hosted by two Latinx women with doctoral degrees, Cristina Rose and Renee Lemus, who want to honor “ancestral wisdom.” Their podcast showcases topics such as diet culture, Latinas in the media, representation, generational trauma, and more as they take a deep dive into racial constructs from a well-read, female Latinx perspective. They also host a book club that was inspired by their desire to make space for themes of healing in their communities that would bring more healing and connectivity.
The pandemic has brought with it a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and a greater understanding of the discrimination that Asian Americans face every day. Podcasts like Asian Enough delve into social inequality, racial discrimination, discriminatory casting practices, and the diverse spectrum of the Asian American identity. Hosted by Los Angeles Times writers Jen Yamato, Johana Bhuiyan, Tracy Brown, and Suhauna Hussain, this podcast highlights perspectives on the Asian American identity in a fresh and engaging way as they discuss current events and politics.
Hosted by two Latina women, Brenda Gonzalez and Ana Sheila Victorino, Tamarindo is described as an “empowerment podcast” that centers conversations not just around race, politics, and culture, but also makes space for conversations on well-being, self-care, and self-love. The discussions are nuanced, enlightening, and honest, whether the hosts are discussing environmental racism or embracing your “inner señora.” If you like this one, you might also enjoy these motivational podcasts that will inspire you.