Maverick Life

Maverick Life

Podcast Review: Black Lives Matter

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This week we’re amplifying shows that unpack and confront racism. Listening and learning is an important first step, but it shouldn’t be the last.

As images of #BlackLivesMatter protests in the US and across the world dominate our social media feeds in the wake of George Floyd’s murder last week, it’s important to remember that what we’re seeing today is part of a long global history. In this edition, we take a deep dive into podcasts that unpack racial injustice, white supremacy and police brutality from the US, South Africa and the country that originally colonised them both, the UK.

A Decade Of Watching Black People Die — Code Switch (NPR)

NPR Code Switch 2020

Length: 22 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2020

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Radio Public, Pocket Casts or any other podcast app or streaming service

Incidents of police killing black people in America have become so familiar that, as hosts Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Meraji point out, “their details have begun to echo each other”. In this timely and powerful episode, journalist Jamil Smith reads and reflects on his 2015 article “What Does Seeing Black Men Die Do for You?” The ongoing echoes of racism and police brutality in the US show how little has changed in five years and why protesters are out on the streets today.

1619 The New York Times

Length: 6 episodes, between 30-40 minutes each

Format: Series

Year: 2019

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic or any other podcast app or streaming service

This landmark series released in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first slave ship arrived in mainland North America is part of a larger interactive multimedia project. Through essays, photographs, poetry, fiction and an accompanying audio series, The 1619 Project re-examines the legacy of slavery in the formation of the country that we now know as the United States of America. Narrated by New York Times Magazine reporter Nicole Hannah-Jones, the podcast illustrates how understanding the history of race in America is central to understanding the country’s democracy, economy, music, land ownership and healthcare system.

Chapter 1: 4. It’s On Us Have You Heard George’s Podcast? (BBC)


Length: 24 minutes

Format: Single episode from the first of two seasons (referred to as chapters in this show)

Year: 2019

Listen on: BBC Sounds, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, RadioPublic or any other podcast app or streaming service

This award-winning podcast recently acquired by the BBC defies easy categorisation. It’s equal parts musical poetry, stream of consciousness and social commentary. George Mpanga, the British-Ugandan spoken word artist and activist behind the show, uses layered sound design, music and a collage of news clips to immerse you in his world. In his world, you hear about racist policing and Britain’s colonial past, as well as writer’s block and navigating relationships. George is as multifaceted as his podcast, reminding us through his lived experience how the twin legacies of racism and colonialism continue to haunt the present.

The Big Question About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge

Length: 39 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2018

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Radio Public or any other podcast app or streaming service

In 2017 Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a book called Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. The following year she continued the conversation in the form of a podcast. This episode focuses on the question that white people often ask after racism is pushed to the top of the agenda: “What can I do?” Reni was tired of having these conversations so she brought on two guests who had done something in response to this question to share their wisdom.

Rekgotsofetse Chikane: Breaking A Rainbow, Building A Nation Cheeky Natives

Length: 52 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2019

Listen on: Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast app or streaming service

Focused on reviewing, curating and archiving black literature, this interview show is hosting vital discussions about race and storytelling that we all need to listen closer to. In this episode, we revisit the #FeesMustFall protests when, much like in the US now, issues of police brutality and institutional racism were at the top of the national agenda. The show refuses to translate everything for a privileged white English ear and rates books in parcels of land. We need more podcasts like this, minus the noisy café in the background.

Soweto 1976 Radio Diaries (Radiotopia)

Length: 12 minutes

Format: Single episode

Year: 2012

Listen on: SoundCloud or hear longer pieces of the story at Mandela: An Audio History

Rich with voices of activists and archival recordings from the time, Radio Diaries has created an important sonic record of popular protest and state repression in apartheid South Africa. In this episode, we are reminded of the long history of police brutality in South Africa and how protest action can change the course of a country. DM/ML

Writer’s note: If you would like to send a message of solidarity or share your own experience of protesting in South Africa with those in the Black Lives Matter movement who are currently fighting to end police brutality and institutional racism in the US send a WhatsApp voice note to +27 84 844 3025 or record a voice note on your phone and email it to [email protected]. By submitting this audio you agree for it to be used as a part of a public audio project. 

To read last week’s edition:

Speaking truth to power: Dulcie September and Daphne Caruana Galizia


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