How a podcast got me through this election and why you should listen to it

I’ve never been a podcast person. I like listening to NPR when they had topics I was interested in and I often changed the station on radio stations when the host talks too much. I’m not being a hater, I just really want to listen to music and I have a preference to read my news.

But, during the summer, I saw a post on Facebook from comedian Hari Kondabolu announcing he and fellow comedian, W. Kamau Bell, were going to have a podcast. I’ve always been fans of both of them and often shared Hari’s Facebook posts. Both are have been in the comedy scene for a while and are outspoken when it comes to the rights of those that are oppressed. Bell himself lives in the Bay Area and has a show on CNN called, “United Shades of America.”

Hari Kondabolu (left) and W. Kamau Bell (right)

This seemed like the perfect podcast for me and to say I love the podcast, Politically Re-Active, would be an understatement. They discuss topics like private prisons, the olympics, and everything political and they talked about these things with many prominent figures in society, including Shaun King, Rachel Maddow, Hasan Minhaj and Jill Stein.

Their latest podcast with Roxane Gay is what prompted me to write this blog post.

Roxane Gay is one of my favorite authors. She’s best known for her book, “Bad Feminist,” and is one of the first black woman to write a Marvel comic. During the podcast, she expressed anger and frustration.

She said, “I was really surprised; I was stunned. And I shouldn’t have been but I was because I naively or dumbly thought that people were going to rise above and that we were going to have enough people overcome racism and misogyny. But I was wrong.”

As this episode of the podcast continued, I got emotional because of the pain and sadness I heard in their voices. All three of them, Kondabolu, Bell, and Gay, are people I look up to and aspire to be like and here they were, defeated. I wanted to give them all hugs and maybe an industrial strength margarita.


Here’s the thing about the election: there are people who are generally concerned about their well-being. There are people who, like Van Jones said the day after the results, don’t know how to explain the outcome of this election to their children.

How do we explain this to out children? To my younger cousins? How do we explain that a man who has been endorsed by the KKK, sexually assaults women and threatens to deport millions of people, just go elected preside of the United States?

The biggest factor in my eyes is racism. In the episode of the podcast I’m discussing, there’s one point where starts talking about having to tip-toe around white people’s feelings when it comes to discussing the root of problems in America and why Trump won.

He said, “I am so furious that it is a problem to say what the problem is, to show emotion and to expect human decency. If making those claims with any passion is a problem, then what are we doing?”

Roxane explained that she experienced the same thing when it comes to talking about feminism, gender and LGBTQ issues. It also frustrates her, and me as well, when people say “Love Trumps Hate.” She said, “Love doesn’t trump hate, it really doesn’t. We have so much evidence and including last night.”

People shouldn’t have to tone it down when it comes to talking about their existence as human beings. Anger is such a natural response when bad things happen. “If you’re not angry,” Roxane said, “You’re not paying attention.”And people that say things like don’t get angry” don’t want to be uncomfortable and are afraid to confront their own privileges. People like Trump supporters have this exact mindset. They’re afraid of change and they are afraid of retaliation of people of color.

Racism as an institution in America is so deeply rooted. It can be hard to understand sometimes, but the things most people need to stop being is afraid.

There has always been one narrative when it comes to the American experience and it is dangerous. It is the reason people are so ignorant. When you’re not exposed to different types of people or cultures and you’re living in a constant bubble of whiteness, of course anything new is going to scare you.

My feeling is this: Why are you not openminded? Why do you take what you have learned for truth and not open your mind to other kinds of people? The world is a beautiful place full of different people, food. music, fashion – how can you not want to be exposed to all of it?

I’m not sure where we go from here. As a country, as a generation, we seem to be lost. There needs to be change and there is going to be change. If not for people fighting for change, America wouldn’t exist.

So, what have I learned today? Don’t be afraid to express your feelings and call things as you see it. I also learned that I can write a blog post during my hour lunch.

It is also important to surround yourself with well-meaning people and educate yourself on the issues many are talking about. Whether you read the latest book from bell hooks or listen to a black guy and Indian guy’s podcast weekly, just do it.


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