Why Read When You Can Listen?

Hi everyone!

I have 2 words that explain why I haven’t posted in almost 2 months: writer’s block. One of my goals when I reinvented my blog was to post once a week, so it was disappointing and frustrating when I couldn’t think of anything to write. The letter board below accurately describes how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks. Hopefully I’ll be back to writing more regularly soon!

I’m currently in the middle of reading The New Jim Crow. It’s a great book so far and I’m really enjoying it. It’s taking me a little longer to read because it’s a lot to process – not only does it have a lot of data and facts, but it also opens your eyes to the enormity and cruelty of the American prison system and how the war on drugs and the justice system has shattered the lives of millions of Americans, specifically young black men and Hispanic men. It’s a lot to consume and I want to do it justice by reading it when my mind is in the right place and able to absorb the information Michelle Alexander presents. It’s not a book that you can simply skim – everything is so intertwined that you almost want to pause every once in a while and try to trace/draw connections to previous chapters and also to what is happening in America today to make sure you actually understand what you’re reading.

TLDR: yes, I am still reading The New Jim Crow. I have to be in the right mindset to read it, so it’s taking me a little longer to read than other books.

I’m definitely not the type of person who can read two books at a time, so I started to look for some podcasts I can listen to that cover similar topics to the genre of books I enjoy reading. This brings me to the title of this post: why read when you can listen? Podcasts are great to listen to when you’re doing laundry, on a walk, getting ready for work, or running errands. You’re able to learn something new while being productive at the same time! I’ve discovered some great podcasts I can listen to when I’m not able to read or I’m not able to give my full attention to The New Jim Crow. They’re listed below with a little blurb about the topic.

I also realized while searching for the podcasts that they might be a good option for people who aren’t the biggest fans of reading. Again, I’m circling back to the title of the post again: why read when you can listen? There are so many podcasts available – true crime, comedy, educational, news & politics, and sports. If going to Barnes & Noble to find new books isn’t something you enjoy doing, podcasts may be a good option for you. You literally don’t have to do anything but listen – you may even learn a thing or two at the same time.

For those who may be new here or don’t remember what my favorite genre of books is, check out this blog post!

Podcasts I Want to Listen To:

Uprooted – discovery+

I actually learned about this podcast while I was listening to a Dateline podcast. It is a companion to discovery+’s limited docuseries Uprooted, that tells the injustice of the 1986 unsolved hanging death of a 19-year-old Black man, Keith Warren, in Silver Spring, Maryland. Featuring 6 episodes, this podcast “follows Keith Warren’s case, uncovering the systemic failures that prevented Keith and his family from getting justice, as well as the future of social justice reform and the journey forward.” The podcast is hosted by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza.

Slow Burn – Slate

This podcast presented by Slate is in its 7th season, which focuses on Roe v. Wade. According to Slate, listeners will hear about “the first woman ever to be convicted of manslaughter for having an abortion, the unlikely Catholic power couple who helped ignite the pro-life movement, and a rookie Supreme Court justice who got assigned the opinion of a lifetime.” Other topics this podcast has covered include the L.A. Riots, Watergate, and the Clinton Impeachment.

Sold Out: Rethinking Housing in America – KQED

The first season explores the nation’s housing crisis and reimagines what housing can be by examining California, the epicenter of the housing affordability crisis. Topics covered include COVID-19 and homelessness, the cost of building homes in California and the possible work-around to the sky-high prices, the back story behind single-family zoning and how it has led to the racial segregation we still see in our neighborhoods today, what it would actually mean to make housing a right, and more.

The second season takes a deep look into evictions, including how they happen, who they impact, and possible solutions to a system deeply entwined in the country’s discriminatory housing policies.

The Switch – Swindled

The Switch is a podcast about white-collar criminals, con artists, and corporate evil. This specific episode discusses the Flint Water Crisis and the repercussions of the cost-cutting decision.

Unleaded – America Dissected

This episode also discusses the Flint Water Crisis. Dr. Abdul El-Sayed is a physician, epidemiologist, and the former Detroit health commissioner. In this episode, El-Sayed visits Flint to speak Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the pediatrician and researcher who uncovered the Flint Water Crisis to “understand how Flint’s history shaped the government failure that led to the crisis – and how distrust can devastate public health for the poor, marginalized communities all across the United States.”

Podcasts I’ve Listened To:

Nice White Parents – Serial Productions & The New York Times

Serial Reporter Chana Joffe-Walt hosts the five-part podcast about why there’s still so much racial inequity in our public school system. She says in previous reporting she’d looked at some of the many programs and reforms the United States has used to try to fix our schools – like standardized tests and charter schools, smaller classes, longer school days, stricter discipline, looser discipline. Her series focuses on the problems caused by white parents and the unconscious role of white parents in perpetuating an unjust system that benefits their kids.

“Nice White Parents” focuses on a middle and high school that was formerly known as the School for International Studies in the gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood Cobble Hill. Before gentrification, the students were Black and brown kids from poor and working-class families. When white parents started sending their kids to the school, Joffe-Walt found the school’s priorities changed to suit the needs of the white kids from homes with more money.

It was a very thought-provoking podcast about how money can cause inequality even when the wealthy aren’t trying to be oppressive. It describes what happens when white families come into underserved communities of color and capitalize on the opportunities those underprivileged communities can’t, all while promising that the wealth and resources they bring will improve life for everyone. Instead, the wealth and resources the white families bring into these public schools only displaces the underserved communities that were there before them. The show does exactly what you’d want it to do: it drives conversation and it sparks emotion.

Crimetown – Gimlet

In season 2 of Crimetown, Detroit takes center stage. Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier tell the story of the Motor City, including its history that reflects a series of issues that strike at the heart of American identity: race, poverty, policing, loss of industry, and the war on drugs.

The season has 19 episodes – the story begins in 1971 and ends in 2013. The episodes cover so much time in such great detail, and I learned so much about the city that is a short drive from where I live – much more than I ever learned in school. Smerling and Stuart-Pontier are great storytellers, and they tell intricate stories so clearly, without diminishing the huge personalities central to each tale. The episodes are so well researched, often including original sources such as recorded testimony, transcripts, and interviews from prison. Season 2 was a great mix of history, politics, corruption, racial and ethnic dynamics, big personalities, and anecdotes told by the people who were there. I definitely need to listen to season 1!

I was also a huge fan of You’re Wrong About, a podcast I discovered a few years ago while reading about Netflix’s show The Crown. The show was founded by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes, but Michael has since left. I haven’t listened to it much since then, but the old episodes were great! They covered topics that people have gotten wrong, including the McDonald’s hot coffee case, the O.J. Simpson trial, the Stanford prison experiment, Princess Diana, the D.C. snipers, and more.

Until next time,

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