13 Podcasts for the Brain, Laughs, and Deep Thought
Podcasts are my jam. Whether I am driving to school, taking a trip, or cleaning my house, I love listening to these audio gems. But not all podcasts are created the same and as you can tell from the title of this post, I like to mix them up. I have compiled a list of my favorites and I hope you will check some of them out. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. ☮️
Short Stories & Essays
This American Life is a weekly post cast hosted by Ira Glass. Each week the podcast focuses on a theme and features stories related to that theme. One of my favorite two-part episodes features the incomparable Nikole Hannah-Jones on the topic of school desegregation called, The Problem We All Live With.
LeVar Burton Reads - If you grew up watching Reading Rainbow then you will know how necessary this podcast is to your adult life. LeVar Burton (Roots, Reading Rainbow, and Star Trek) has a voice that personifies comfort and familiarity and in his weekly podcasts he brings curated short stories to life in a way that only he can do. Some of his selected stories come from authors like Neil Gaiman, Octavia Butler, N.K. Jeminson, and more.
History, Political & Social Issues
1619 Project - This audio series comes from the New York Times and is narrated by my favorite, Nikole Hannah-Jones. 1619 observes the 400th anniversary of the beginning of slavery in America and follows the impact that slavery had and continues to have in the present.
Code Switch - this NPR podcasts tackles race, ethnicity, and culture and centers the voices of the often marginalized in the telling of their own stories. Main hosts, Gene and Shereen are joined by a team of journalist that dispel the notion that we are living in a post-racial society and cover the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, and culture in our daily lives and communities.
Revisionist History - a podcast from famed author, Malcolm Gladwell, where he goes back in history to cover an often misunderstood piece of history: a person, event, or idea that has been overlooked.
"Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance."
Throughline - This historical podcast goes back in time to examine the headlines that have impacted the present and helped to shape the world. There is a fascinating episode on bananas and how they impacted much of the current structure of parts of Latin America. Another excellent episode discussing US-Iran relations and really helps to explain how our current situation came to be.
White Lies - a true crime podcast from NPR about the Civil Rights Movement. Going back to 1965 in Selma, Alabama and the murder of Rev. James Reeb, two journalists from Alabama examine the case and poke holes in case where no one was ever held accountable.
"They expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt and memory that says as much about America today as it does about the past." - White Lies
Pure Laughs, Social Commentary & Unapologetically Black
The Read - I have been listening to this podcast since it started seven years ago. When I moved back to the US from Egypt when I felt totally out of the loop of what was happening and this Black perspective helped me get up to speed. Hosts Kid Fury and Crissle are a hilarious duo that bring you Black Excellence, Hot Tops (topics), Listener Letters, which are almost ALWAYS a mess, and finally, the Read, where someone or somethings gets dragged and read (i.e. publicly shamed) for this missteps. But what I love most about this podcast is that it portrays Black people and all their complexities, showing that we are not as monolithic as the world would have you believe. From video games, to pop culture, sexuality, and Black mental health, Kid Fury and Crissle will have you cackling. The popularity of the this podcast has led to the eponymous weekly television show on FUSE.
The Bodega Boys - think Jerky Boys
meets the Bronx. Desus Nice and the Kid Mero are hilarious and may not be for everyone but they are irreverent and unapologetically New York. With a mix of current events, hip hop culture, and talks about marijuana, the Knicks and Yankees, you will see why this podcast led to two primetime television shows, most recently on Showtime. The New York Time described them as unapologetically Black,
“Desus and Mero,” has been the answer for anyone in search of a rundown of pop culture from young people who also regularly waste hours surfing the web while slightly stoned. But more important, in a landscape in which black people dominate the culture but have few recognized channels to respond to it, the show, which stars two American black men, provides a venue for black authority in the mainstream. Their rapport has proved so popular that more-established networks have taken notice." - New York Times Magazine, June 18, 2018
Small Doses - Amanda Seales (Insecure and The View) is hilarious. You may recognize her from MTV but most recently on Insecure and from her standup, I Be Knowin' on HBO. But she also keeps it 100, she speaks on matters pertaining to race and social issues as well as relationships and all those things in between.
Therapy, Mental Health, and Faith
Therapy for Black Girls - What a time to be alive! The stigma surrounding Black mental health is slowly, yet surely starting to dissipate. And thanks to Therapy for Black girls, an online community and resource-hub, you have access not only to a podcast, but also to a directory of qualified professionals in your area. Dr. Joy is licensed psychologist who created TBG for Black women to have a platform to discuss issue pertaining to our wellness.
"So often the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy prevents Black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist. This space was developed to present mental health topics in a way that feels more accessible and relevant."
The Vibe Rise - getting in touch with you spiritual side, do you need some guidance? If so, I highly recommend The Vibe Rise. This project is the soul child of Margaret Free, who has set out to create a space for Black women of the diaspora to delve deeper into their spiritual selves.
Margaret describes her website and podcast as tools that "will help to strengthen your walk with God and give you the ability to hear and receive those messages easier. You will learn to trust your intuition and live a more soul centered life. These concepts are for all individuals who seek God and are open to the many ways to be in contact with the spirit world. The Vibe Rise is not here to evangelize or to convince you of the value of any of the concepts mentioned. This is a judgement free zone. We will provide the information and you can take and use what you need. No pressure."
Love and Relationships
Dead Ass - Khadeen and Devale Ellis is the podcast about Love, Sex, & Marriage but from the perspective of a Black millennial married couple from Brooklyn. This couple's social media presence emerged from funny Instagram and YouTube videos featuring their 3 young sons and evolved to include a podcast where they discuss the ins and outs of love and relationships, personal advice, and opinions. If you're like me and you aren't in a relationship, you can still find some gems and lots of entertainment with Dead Ass.