Racial and Social Justice Podcasts for Teens

This presidential campaign season and recent current events have brought many social issues to the forefront. Teens (and adults) are trying to navigate many of these around racial equity, Islamophobia, and immigration. Often as library staff we try to help teens delve into issues, interests, concerns or questions they are experiencing with bibliotherapy, which can serve as a great tool, but published books don’t always capture to immediacy of what is happening right now.

News media channels are often the sources where we are encountering these subjects, but little segments don’t, or can’t, take the time to fully unpack particular aspects around these issues. The following is a list of current podcasts, podcasts that have teen appeal, that we can all be listening to that explore racial and social justice in the United States, and especially during a time where politics are front and center.

Racial Justice Podcasts for Teens-1

Here are six podcast to listen to and share with teens right now:

Politically Re-Active

Politically Re-Active

Comedians and W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu come together to discuss some the most current hot-button topics that are arising during the current political campaign season. The podcast premiered at the end of June and will carry on through the election in November. Each week they have a guest on their show, and they get in deep to current issues such as private prisons, third-wave feminism, and dog-whistling politics – all issues of interest to teens. They also talk to other journalist of color and social justice leaders as they discuss the current political process and how it intersects with social justice issues.

Also check out Bell’s other podcast Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor of All Time Period that he does with Kevin Avery and Kondabolu’s interview with NPR’s Nerdette Podcast from August 5, 2016, where he talks about the power of youth and how important it is to be reaching out to teens because this is when they are forming their opinions. Kondabolu gets teens and knows that humor and comedy is the best way to reach them.

Code Switch

Code SwitchAn NPR Podcast about race and identity that is comprised of wide-array of journalists of color discussing the “overlapping themes of race, ethnicity and culture, and how they play out in our lives and communities.” The podcast began in late May 2016 and has covered topics from the killing of Philando Castile and how LGBTQ people of color were dealing with the Orlando shootings to people of color and their relationship to the great outdoors and the stress of how people of color are being portrayed on TV and in the movies. A must listen is their debut podcast from May 31, 2016 “Can We Talk About Whiteness.”



Activist, storyteller, and politico Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed and  writer, actor and comedian Zahra Noorbakhsh started #GoodMuslimBadMuslim in January 2015 to discuss the constant flips they have to make being Muslim in American culture and the ways they choose to live and create art. As they put it, “To the Muslim community, we are ‘bad’ Muslims” and “To non-Muslims, we are ‘good.’” Through humor and satire they take hard look at what is going on politically, pop culture, and the current rise of Islamophobia.

Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race

About Race

This podcast has been on hiatus since February, but will be returning September 2nd with hosts Baratunde Thurston, Raquel Cepeda, Tanner Colby and Anna Holmes. They describe the show as 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.” As you wait for the return dip into the archives, and especially look for podcasts #BlackProtestsMatter, The A-Word (assimilation), and The Diversity Drinking Game (where they discuss the lack of diversity in the writers’ rooms of most television shows).

Propaganda Backtalk

BacktalkBitch Media editors talk about the week’s pop culture as it relates to women and race. Recent podcasts have covered the gender bias in the coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio, the lack of diversity in Stranger Things, Beyoncé’s Lemonade, and the history of gender segregation of bathrooms and the laws being proposed across the county that would create discriminatory laws around who can use what bathrooms.


Latino USA

LatinoUSAProduced by NPR and Futuro Media Group this is one of the longest running Latino-focused programs on U.S. public media. Hour-long episodes delve deep into the stories that are often overlooked by mainstream media. Recent podcasts have covered the election season, how media channels are reaching Latino youth in the U.S., and several court cases that have affected Latino individuals that aren’t necessarily being covered in mainstream news coverage.

What are you, or the teens in your life, listening to that is helping to wade through this political season and/or raise your social and racial justice awareness?

Danielle Jones, currently binge-watching The Get Down on Netflix