5 podcasts from women of color to subscribe to asap
Much-needed words of wisdom from Princess Nokia, Phoebe Robinson, and a WOC wellness collective.
princess nokia. photography kacey jeffers.
2016 was the year the podcast went mainstream — the year the format blew up and dominated the discourse on everything from politics to pop culture, comedy to critical race theory. It was also an incredible year for female and non-white speakers, who came from backgrounds in Hollywood, the arts, and academia to lay out contemporary American issues in nuanced, deeply personal, yet accessible ways. The scope of podcasts expanded incredibly, beyond staples like "This American Life" and "Freakonomics" to include smart, funny, and often heart-warming female-run shows like "Invisibilia" and "2 Dope Queens." Five women-led podcasts in particular stood out in 2016, and will (we hope) continue to lead political and cultural conversations in 2017 — inspiring more women and minorities to reach for the mic.
Smart Girl Club
It should come as no surprise that Destiny Frasqueri's — aka Princess Nokia's — bedroom-based podcast is spiritual, brilliant, and raw. It explores female friendship, navigates interactions with men, and even dabbles in witchcraft. In a few precious hours, Frasqueri has already served relationship advice, magical healing techniques, and learnings from difficult chapters in her own life — which are worth a listen for any creative femme in need of inspiration or solace. The "Tomboy" singer meets the listener on a spiritual, emotional level — in a bittersweet place shared by girls who experience "the brown girl blues." There's nothing quite like it in the podcast world, partly because it's entirely self-produced and wonderfully unedited. Destiny's dad, her cat, and even a stray dick pic that popped up on her computer screen have all made cameos, breaking up the podcast's more serious flow. This lack of a formula fills Frasqueri's show — just like her music — with some truly beautiful moments of honesty. Tune in for important truths about growing up as a girl today, and a no-bullshit guide to practicing urban feminism.
"#GoodMuslimBadMuslim" is a hilarious, intelligent political podcast that deals with the social burdens that weigh on American Muslims — burdens that have only increased in the past year. That's partly why the podcast feels so important right now: it's a direct discourse between friends — activist Taz Ahmed and comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh — about the controversies and issues that plague young Muslims today. Recent topics have included the repercussions of the U.S. election, hijab and burkini bans, and satiric takes on ally safety pins. The discussion always harks back to the notion of being a "good Muslim" or a "bad Muslim" — being a model member of a minority group who is "different" from other Muslims, versus playing into stereotypes. Taz and Zahra's in-depth understanding of the problems they tackle makes the podcast a must-listen for any minority in the U.S. today — not just Muslims. Furthermore, it's refreshingly feminist and queer.
"Prismatic" is a podcast hosted by New Yorkers Josh Gwynn, Will Johnson, and Tsige Tafesse (of POC art collective BUFU). Each episode discusses a topic affecting the lives of young, queer, black and brown bodies — with a focus on how these bodies survive and thrive in spaces that weren't originally created for them. Guests have included: comics of color in the Upright Citizens Brigade; a black, queer, polyamorous couple challenging perceptions of their relationship; a documentarian of sexual discrimination; members of the #FreeKadin movement (which rallied behind a disadvantaged black student at the New School); and the notorious BLM activist who interrupted a Bernie Sanders rally. Beyond insightful conversations between the three hosts, these wide-ranging interviews are fundamental to the podcast's approach. The folks who join in on each recording are conducting fascinating work in every field imaginable, making "Prismatic" a fantastic place to further explore contemporary race politics and the creative responses they elicit in American youth of color.
Sooo Many White Guys
WNYC's "Sooo Many White Guys" follows comedian Phoebe Robinson of "2 Dope Queens" and Broad City on a talk show journey full of interesting guests, none of whom are white guys — imagine! Every single episode exceeds expectations with superstar guests like Janet Mock, Constance Wu, Roxanne Gay, and the show's executive producer Ilana Glazer. Bringing fresh ideas and observations to every conversation (on subjects from the racialization of whiteness and tokenism to dating), Phoebe and her guests explore the issues that arise when navigating feminism, careers, and New York City as women, and particularly as women of color. After only one season, Phoebe has proven herself a true standalone force in comedy, thanks to her lighthearted but unrelentingly informed approach. (Sidenote: she doesn't hate white guys — comedian Mike Birbiglia excitedly serves as the season's token white guy, appearing as a guest in the season finale.)
Black Girl in Om
"Black Girl in Om" started as an online collective and only recently grew into a podcast. The show extends the group's core mission of cultivating a community for black women in the worlds of yoga, natural beauty, and overall wellness — worlds from which they are all too often excluded. Creative director (and provider of extremely soothing guided meditation) Lauren Ash and art director Zakkiyyah Najeebah talk with guru guests and catch up with one another about their own wellness, covering everything from veganism to trauma, meditation, and the importance of building sisterhood. Especially as the concept of self-care continues to gain traction and political significance among minority communities, "Black Girl in Om" is an awesome (and non-whitewashed) resource.
Text Blair Cannon
Photography Kacey Jeffers