Black Voices at the Mic: Great Podcasts on Love, Sci-Fi, and Radical Honesty

Must-listen podcasts from Black voices, curated by radio producer Bethel Habte.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to listen to Black voices. I’m a radio producer—a voice elevator—after all.

One of the many awful things about living in a world that discriminates against people for something as arbitrary as the level of melanin in their skin is how much it can flatten and reduce individual experiences. There are so many ways to exist in the world when you’re Black, and they don’t always center on our relationship to racial oppression.

It’s vital to listen to stories from Black folks that don’t solely address our struggles with racism, or our stories that are touched by trauma. So these recommendations aim to reflect the fact that while it’s critical to listen to Black voices that address this moment in history, it’s equally pressing to listen to the stories that remind everyone we contain multitudes.

BH

We’ve Been Here Before

Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings • The Nod

Amid a still raging global pandemic, the nation has been reeling over the most recent spate of killings of Black people at the hands of police. Brittany and Eric sit down to process their feelings and memorialize the lives we lost.

The Liberation of RNA

Brandon Ogbunu • Radiolab

Starting when he was a senior in college being shook down by a couple cops, Brandon tells us about navigating his ups and downs of a career in science, his startling connection to scientific racism, and his battle against biology’s central dogma.

Why Ta-Nehisi Coates Is Hopeful

The Ezra Klein Show

The author of Between the World and Me on why this isn’t 1968, the Colin Kaepernick test, police abolition, nonviolence and the state, and more.

Borders Between Us

Saidu Tejan-Thomas and Jay Allison • Transom

Saidu Tejan-Thomas is a young poet. For a long time, he had a story he needed to tell: an homage and apology to his mother.

Love and Lapses

B.A. Parker • Invisibilia

A story of relationships told through the small recorded calls between people who love each other.

The Black Introverts

Jessica Jupiter • The Stoop

How it can be different to be an introvert while Black.

Art Maven Kimberly Drew

Kimberly Drew and Helga Davis • Helga

Tastemaker Kimberly Drew on the importance of mental health, what it really means to work in the art world, and how drinking water helps her keep the beat.

Tressie McMillan Cottom & Trevor Noah: Optimistic and Depressed

Trevor Noah and Tressie McMillan Cottom • Death, Sex & Money

Trevor Noah and guest host Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom talk about why radical honesty around mental health can be liberating.

How Bibliophiles Flirt

Karla Marie-Rose Derus (read by Uzo Aduba) • Modern Love

An essay about a book lover’s embarrassing secret.

We Are in the Future

Neil Drumming • This American Life

Afrofuturism is more than sci-fi. It’s a way of looking at black culture that’s fantastic, creative, and oddly hopeful—which feels especially urgent during a time without a lot of optimism.

About the curator

Bethel Habte is an associate producer at Radiolab. She also curates a newsletter called “wilt” (what I’m listening to) and sends out five podcast and song recommendations every Friday. She’s a proud aunt, aspiring dog-mom, and on-and-off salsa dancer.

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