19 Podcasts You Should Be Listening To
Discover the best equity-focused podcasts.
Increasingly, people are turning to podcasts to learn. They discover everything from daily news to their favorite subcultures. At YW Boston, we love podcasts as a way to engage with our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. We turn to podcasts to hear from women and people of color on the topics that matter to them (and us!).
We asked YW Boston staff to recommend podcasts showcasing diverse voices discussing topics through an intersectional lens. If you’re looking for more representation in your media, check out this list of 19 of our favorite podcasts:
1. About Race
Recommended by Sheera, About Race‘s name seemingly says it all. As their website explains, “Anna Holmes, Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda and Tanner Colby host a lively multiracial, interracial conversation about the ways we can’t talk, don’t talk, would rather not talk, but intermittently, fitfully, embarrassingly do talk about culture, identity, politics, power, and privilege in our pre-post-yet-still-very-racial America.” The podcast was cancelled in early 2017, but still provides a number of eye-opening, thought-provoking past episodes, such as “What Do You Mean, ‘Community Policing’?” and “Fight For Your Voting Rights”. The hosts also record feedback shows for most of their episodes, responding to listeners in order to deepen everyone’s understanding.
The Bechdel Cast is named for The Bechdel Test, created by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, which serves as a launching point for hosts and special guests to discuss the under-representation of women in film. Hosted by Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante, the podcast explores whether films pass The Bechdel Test by examining if a film features at least two women, with names, who speak to each other about something other than a man. This podcast analyzes movies old and new, and also considers the lack of racial diversity and heteronormativity present in films. Don’t miss some of the most popular episodes, such as “Clueless,” “Black Panther,” and “Aladdin.”
The Black Joy Mixtape, hosted by Amber J. Phillips, the High Priestess of Black Joy and Jazmine “Da K.O.S.” Walker, covers current events with a comedic and Black Feminist lens. As Fatima explains, “This podcast covers an array of issues around the -isms while honing into the intersectionality of marginalized identities (especially POCs, queer and non-Christian folx) with a sense of humor—for some. It’s unapologetically black and most importantly human.”
4. Code Switch
Recommended by four staff members, this is a podcast you won’t want to miss. Code Switch‘s tagline is “Race and Identity, Remixed,” and its title refers to the linguistic act of code switching, or when a speaker moves between distinct languages or dialects when communicating. As the hosts Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji explain, people tend to shy away from talking about race and racism, “But we’ll always be unflinchingly honest and empathetic.” They are right. The makers of Code Switch create a space where everyone can learn to discuss race while keeping listeners accountable. No matter how difficult of a topic they discuss, they end each episode by asking their guests, “What song is giving you life this week?” which has spawned this joyous playlist.
Recommended by Coralys, HBR: Women at Work hosts “Conversations about the workplace, and women’s place in it.” Being a woman in the workplace, especially in male-dominated fields, can feel isolating. Women at Work discusses hurdles women face in the workplace such as unconscious bias, disproportionate promotion and mentorship opportunities, wage gaps, and more. Hosts Amy Bernstein, Sarah Green Carmichael, and Nicole Torres offer listeners actionable advice on how to navigate these situations. Popular episodes include: Sisterhood is Scarce, The Art of Claiming Credit, and Mind the (Wage) Gap.
6. Modern Love
Hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti, the Boston-based host of On Point, and Daniel Jones of the New York Times, Modern Love presents stories of, well, modern love. Sometimes you just need, as Sheera puts it, “just a lot of heartwarming stories.” Each episode is based on listener-submitted stories, and take on all sorts of topics of love. Most episodes are twenty minutes or under, adding a quick and satisfying piece of joy to your day.
Sheera also recommends The Moth Radio Hour, which she describes as “some funny, some sad, some dramatic–all live storytelling. Many end up focused on identity, but certainly not all. Great listening.” For over twenty years, The Moth has served as a platform for storytelling across America, beginning with shows in which people share their stories live and without notes. The Moth Radio Hour grew out of recordings of these stories, as well as telling the stories behind the stories. Find a new episode every week, and a new opportunity to sneak-peek into another person’s story.
8. Open Source
Unlike the other podcasts on the list, Open Source is distinctly Boston. Recommended by Meredith and hosted by Christopher Lydon, the podcast doesn’t focus just on this city–it covers a wide range, including arts, literature, and foreign affairs. As they state, “Drawing on our roots here in Boston, we’ll remind you why the city has been the capital of ideas in America since the heyday of Emerson and Thoreau in the 1840s.”
As Jessica puts it, the hosts of Pod Save the People are “Amazing advocates for justice and equity.” Each week activists and organizers DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, Sam Sinyangwe, and Clint Smith explore news, culture, social justice, and politics. They focus on having deep conversations with experts to get to the heart of the issues their listeners care deeply about.
Calling all Spanish-speaking listeners: check out Puestas Pa’l Problema. As Coralys explains, “This podcast is in Spanish and the title does not have an exact English translation. The closest thing would be “Women Up to the Challenge.” The podcast was created by two Puerto Rican and Mexican lawyers who often have special guests on their show. Their guests include local women entrepreneurs, artists, journalists, lawyers, and politicians. Creators Renata and Paola aim to break down complex topics including policy, court cases, and politics from a lawyer’s perspective, but with simplified and relevant language aimed at millennials. They discuss both Puerto Rican and U.S. news and explain how the Puerto Rican diaspora, as well as Puerto Rican residents, will be affected by them.”
11. Racist Sandwich
As the creators of Racist Sandwich state, “both food and the ways we consume, create, and interpret it can be political.” Hosted by chef and writer Soleil Ho and writer Zahir Janmohamed, the podcast takes on any range of topics including interviews with chefs of color, foodie appropriation, food and mental health, and more. The name of the podcast may be confusing at first but actually refers to a misunderstanding in which a Portland Public Schools principal was accused of calling PB&Js “racist” when she pointed out they aren’t a staple in every child’s household. As Leigh states, “Food is inextricably linked to our sense of identity and our culture. This podcast helps you see that food and eating are important ideas to unpack to better understand how we relate to one another.”
12. “Seeing White” and “Men” – Scene on Radio
Both Jessica and Sheera recommend Scene on Radio, and in particular their two series “Seeing White” and “Men” as being spot on to YW Boston’s mission. These two series take racism and sexism to get to the root of their socially constructed natures. On “Seeing White” they ask, “Why? Where did the notion of “whiteness” come from? What does it mean? What is whiteness for?” which Jessica says is an “Amazing series. Big commitment.” The series “Men” asks “How did we get sexism, patriarchy, misogyny in the first place? How can we get better at seeing it, and what can we do about it?” Settle in for 14 and 12 episodes, respectively, to begin getting to the bottom of these big questions.
13. She’s All Fat
She’s All Fat is a “podcast for body positivity, radical self-love, and chill vibes only.” Hosts April K. Quioh and Sophie Carter-Kahn recognized that body positivity was gaining more visibility, but few spaces existed where fat people of all intersections could engage with current events, popular culture, and to learn from one another. This podcast is one that listeners of all sizes will learn from but ultimately centers itself on fat people’s experiences, especially as those experiences are also affected by race, gender, class, etc. As Leigh states, “April and Sophie’s awesome friendship and support of one another makes it even more of a blast to listen to.”
14. Side Hustle Pro
Recommended by Coralys, Side Hustle Pro is the “first and only podcast to spotlight bold, black women entrepreneurs who have scaled from side hustle to profitable business.” The podcast is hosted by Nicaila Matthews Okome, who also dedicates much of her time to helping emerging podcasters launch and build their brand. Recent episodes include topics ranging from impostor syndrome to how to balance your finances, with over a hundred interviews with Black women entrepreneurs who have pursued their dreams and share their knowledge with us.
Join comedian and writer Phoebe Robinson for Sooo Many White Guys, a podcast of “Intimate, funny conversations with all kinds of artists who (mostly) aren’t white dudes.” You can find interviews with beloved stars, like speaking with Issa Rae about black girl magic and Bill Hader about living with anxiety. As Rachel puts it, “Phoebe Robinson is one of my favorite comedians – she and Ilana Glazer interview all sorts of leading figures who, 98% of the time, aren’t white guys. This podcast needs an explicit content label, but it has a lot of great laughs and also introduces new concepts, cultures, or perspectives nearly every episode.”
Sheera recommends StartUp, a podcast “documentary series about entrepreneurial life.” The first season tracks the making of the owner of the podcast, Gimlet Media, and the second a dating company called “Dating Ring”. After season two, it began to focus on a new business each episode. It’ll encourage you to follow your dreams, while not holding back any of the more frightening details of going out on your own.
17. Still Processing
Still Processing reveals the “inside [of] the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times.” They cover topics that move them, and process current events together, letting themselves show and decipher their emotions. A favorite of Rachel‘s, she describes it as, “two [People of Color] writers with the NYT, this podcast talk about issues in popular culture/dominant political narratives that affect people of color, most often black folks. I love that the two who lead it are essentially thinking out loud about relevant, often personal issues, and it adds to my perspective and helps me work through difficult topics, too.”
18. Today Explained
Also a favorite of Rachel‘s, Today Explained is a new podcast from Vox that serves as a “daily explainer podcast — bringing you the biggest news every day with guests, context, radio drama, and more.” Hosted by Sean Rameswaram, the podcast deep-dives into one topic in US headlines each weekday for 20 minutes. Rachel loves it because “They talk about politics, pop culture, history, and more with experts in the field or real humans affected by it. They either relate it to how big topics can have real effects on POC, LGBTQ folks, women, non-Christians, and more, or elevate a critical story about minority populations that don’t often get widespread attention.”