Over the past week, we at Pod Bible have been saving Instagram posts and bookmarking tweets about how to educate ourselves through audio and how to support Black voices in the podcasting world. As an American woman editing a predominantly British podcasting blog, I wanted to be sure that while I explored these well-crafted, informative and fun shows, I took care to focus on Black voices in the U.K. And really, it wasn’t hard, as nearly every list I have found directed me straight to the nine-part series from author Reni Eddo-Lodge, entitled About Race.
Allow me to be clear: this is a highly successful, beautifully produced and well-researched podcast that does not need or seek our recommendation. And frankly, it would be lazy and thoughtless of me to simply drop the suggestion you listen to a two year old podcast on the topic of anti-racist activism as though that were enough.
It’s not enough.
The topics that Ms. Eddo-Lodge covers are important and relevant, but they were always important and relevant. The show may seem particularly poignant today, even though it was released in early 2018, but that only serves to highlight how late so many of us are to the table. As the programme once again climbs the podcasting charts, Reni commented via her Twitter account that a large podcasting company she and her team had pitched to once called it “broccoli”.
I have no idea what kind of vegetable this podcast would be (and frankly I love broccoli) but I do know it is a stunning piece of audio. Before we even get the chance to dive into the discussion and context, we are first confronted with incredible production quality and an opening sequence I will not likely forget any time soon. Opening credits and theme music are often overlooked in podcasting, and producer Renay Richardson sets about giving the listener a British history lesson in racism right from the moment you press play.
Over the course of the series, each topic brings us new guests, experts in their fields and participants from moments in anti-racist (and some wholly racist) moments of a nation’s history. Both host and producer offer the listener not only context and shape the takeaway of each discussion, but allow them to breathe – not so that we may relax, but in order to make us uncomfortable. There are moments when the last lines of an interview seem to hang in the air and the hair on the back of my neck stood as I waited for the catharsis of correction or rescission. Neither came – and that is the reality of the discussion of racism.
The concept that anyone ever called About Race “broccoli” is mind-boggling. Discussions of race and activism are not some unappealing item on our plate that we have no choice but to take in if we want to grow big and strong. A quality podcast is one that is created to either inform or entertain, but deftly uses its own medium as a tool to tell the story. About Race offers layers, not only in the language of the speakers, but in removing the visuals – and what we as listeners must confront about ourselves and our own deeply learned racism when Reni casually mentions the race of the person to whom she is speaking.
About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge is not recommended, it is required. You can find out more about the team of Black creators behind the podcast on the show’s website, and you can listen to all nine episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you get your podcasts.