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America doesn’t need another conversation about race. At least, not the kind we’ve been having ... the ones that are sparked by a crisis and move quickly from shock, to empty promises, to forgetting. No. What America needs are REAL conversations about race … ones that shine a light on the facts, the history, and the reality of how race plays out in our politics and society. That’s what Slate offers each week on A Word With Jason Johnson. A veteran political commentator, Johnson will bring hi ...
 
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show series
 
The eagerly awaited World Cup starts on Sunday. While the sport features star athletes from across the African diaspora, many Black people in the U.S. still consider soccer a white sport. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson speaks with Jermaine Scott. He’s an African American Studies professor at Florida Atlantic University, a life-long soc…
 
Wakanda Forever carries on the story that thrilled fans of the 2018 blockbuster Black Panther. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Evan Narcisse. He’s one of the comic book writers whose work –including the Marvel Black Panther Wakanda Atlas– helped flesh out Wakandan mythology in the years since the original film debuted. Narc…
 
Southern California’s gang violence has made national headlines for decades. Less well known are allegations of violent gangs within the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by journalist Cerise Castle, host and executive producer of A Tradition of Violence. This new podcast probes charges that the…
 
For every civil rights martyr like Emmett Till, there were many other Black Americans who were brutalized or killed by racist violence in the early 20th century and remain largely unknown. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Professor Margaret Burnham, author of By Hands Now Known: Jim Crow’s Legal Executioners. This new book u…
 
In 2020, the Black vote proved critical for Joe Biden in key states, and helped win the Senate for the Democrats. But in the years since, Republican leaders have pushed through laws aimed at discouraging and diluting the power of the Black vote. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson speaks with Cliff Albright, executive director of the Black …
 
From Ferguson to Minneapolis, protests against racist policing have been catalyzed by videos of the brutality being spread on social media. On today’s A Word, Jason Johnson sits down with Dr. Ruha Benjamin to talk about her book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, and where social sciences and technology intersect. Guest: Ruha Benjamin Y…
 
The new Interview With the Vampire television series is giving life to a whole new generation of fans who love the human monsters created by the late Anne Rice. On today’s episode of A Word, actor Jacob Anderson talks with Jason Johnson about his role as the reimagined blood sucker, and his career as a singer and sci-fi screen star. Guest: Jacob An…
 
For decades, critical race theory was something discussed almost exclusively by scholars and academics. That was before conservatives turned it into a political football, even though most couldn’t define it properly. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by UCLA Law Professor LaToya Baldwin Clark, a leader of CRT Forward. That’s a p…
 
The growing racial diversity in American public schools is often framed as a challenge. In the new documentary Defining US: Children at the Crossroads of Change, veteran educator Paul Forbes focuses on the hard work of understanding how structural racism affects schools. The film spotlights success stories among “at risk” students of color, and the…
 
The student body of America’s public schools is more diverse than ever, with a solid majority of children of color. But the teacher corp doesn’t reflect that diversity. Fewer than a quarter of American teachers are non-white, and fewer than 10 percent of teachers are Black. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by former U.S. Secret…
 
Over the last two decades, suicide among Black youth has surged to crisis levels. And many schools, doctors and parents are unprepared to recognize the signs early enough to stop a tragedy. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Kevin Simon to discuss the issue. Dr. Simon is also the Chief Beh…
 
While political conservatives slammed it as wasteful, President Biden’s student debt plan was greeted with relief by many borrowers. But questions remain about whether it goes far enough to help most of the Black students burdened by student loans. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson discusses the issue with Professor Fenaba Addo, co-author…
 
Are you ready for some football! After decades of being kept out of the quarterback position, more Black quarterbacks are creating success and finding stardom in the NFL. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by ESPN’s Jason Reid, author of “Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means for America.” They discuss how the business and…
 
The U.S. has some of the worst maternal mortality rates in the industrialized world. And African Americans are three times more likely to die in childbirth than whites. The documentary Aftershock focuses on how the healthcare system is failing Black mothers at the most vulnerable time of their lives, and how their families are fighting to change th…
 
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres in theaters this November. The franchise has provided a showcase for African Americans across the entertainment industry, including those behind the scenes. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson speaks with one of those rising creatives, conceptual artist Phillip Boutte Jr. Boutte left an acting career…
 
NBA star Bill Russell, the first Black American to coach a major-league sports team, died this week. His playing earned him 11 championships. His activism won him respect in the Black community, but the hatred of many white fans, and surveillance from the FBI during the civil rights era. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by spor…
 
People are back in the office; schools are planning full classes in the fall; masks are seen less and less frequently. It’s the third COVID summer, but the latest variant of the virus is causing another surge in infection rates and hospitalizations. What do we need to do to protect ourselves now? And how can we be prepared for monkeypox, and the ne…
 
In Georgia, award-winning hip hop artist Young Thug and rapper Gunna are awaiting trial on multiple charges, and prosecutors used some of their lyrics in their indictment. Is that fair game, or an attack on free speech? On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by ACLU attorney Stephanie Willis to talk about the broader implications of …
 
This week’s January 6th congressional hearings offered an in-depth look at the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and other violent extremist groups that organized the insurrection. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson discusses the issues with counter terrorism expert Malcolm Nance, who has spent years chronicling the rise of white supremacist a…
 
While the vast majority of African American students attend predominantly white institutions –or PWIs– for college, many Black scholars are giving historically Black colleges and universities a second look. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson discusses the issue with Michelle Purdy, an associate professor of education at Washington Universi…
 
Activists and abortion rights supporters are trying building a movement in the post-Roe v. Wade era. An empowered conservative court, a potential digital dragnet, and an unfocused Democratic response is making that complicated. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by legal analyst Imani Gandy, who explains why –despite the setback–…
 
With the Golden State Warriors wrapping up another championship, NBA players are settling in for the off-season when many will be working on physical fitness and strength. But more teams are recognizing that mental fitness –especially for a league full of young Black men– is just as important. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined b…
 
*This will be a frank discussion about homophobia, and our guest will talk about his experience being called an anti-gay slur.* This LGBTQ Pride Month has been marred by a rash of anti-gay and anti-trans laws, and some groups plotting physical attacks at Pride events. For Black members of the community, racism has added even more tension to this ye…
 
The market for cryptocurrency crashed in May, losing billions of investor dollars. That’s a special concern for African Americans, who are twice as likely as white people to invest in crypto. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by economist Darrick Hamilton to discuss the unique appeal of cryptocurrency among Black Americans, and …
 
Like so much of pop culture, online culture is largely rooted in the work of Black and other marginalized people. Writer and activist Bridget Todd celebrates their stories on her podcast There Are No Girls on the Internet. On today’s episode of A Word, she joins Jason Johnson to talk about the challenge of preserving that history, and building comm…
 
With Americans owing more than $1.7 trillion in student loan debt, Black and other marginalized students are bearing a disproportionate share of the burden. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Braxton Brewington, the spokesperson for The Debt Collective. That organization, dedicated to ending what it considers unjust debt, clos…
 
The recent massacre targeting the Black community in Buffalo has led to strong words from President Biden and other leaders, denouncing white supremacist violence. But for the remaining survivors of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and their descendants, those words ring hollow. On this week’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Damario Solom…
 
In light of the threat to Roe v. Wade, abortion rights advocates are asking many companies –including in the tech industry– to take a stand. But many industry leaders are silent, and could be poised to profit from data that tracks abortion providers, advocates, and patients. On this week’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Bärí Williams…
 
With one million dead from COVID, many Americans are suffering through profound grief. And for Black Americans, the pandemic combined with the racial reckoning has made the mourning feel endless. On this week’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson talks with writer Marisa Renee Lee about her new book Grief Is Love: Living With Loss, and about making sp…
 
Black Twitter has grown into a community where jokes, memes, and activism flourish. But with Elon Musk taking over, many users fear the most vital conversations will be silenced. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Omar Wasow, a pioneer in online culture, and the co-founder of the BlackPlanet social network. They discuss what M…
 
The Black Lives Matter movement has emerged as a major political force. Now, questionable spending by the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has sparked questions about whether key movement leaders have lost their way. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Sean Campbell, an investigative journalist whose report on the f…
 
Although church and state are supposed to be separate, white evangelical power is a potent force in American politics. And it has historically been used to battle against racial equity. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Professor Anthea Butler, the author of White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America. They …
 
It’s tax season, a stressful time for millions of Americans. But for many Black Americans, financial issues are complicated year-round by the “Black Tax;” that’s the complex web of structural bias in finance, banking, and housing policy that can make it harder for African Americans to build wealth. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joi…
 
Chris Rock is back on tour, days after Will Smith struck him and won his first Oscar in the same night. While the Academy strongly condemned Smith, several Black stars and writers have publicly defended him, or even applauded him for standing up for his wife. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson talks with entertainment journalist Chris With…
 
White Ukrainians have been praised for defending their homeland, and embraced when they’re forced to leave. It’s a sharp contrast to what has faced Black Ukrainians, Syrians, Afghans, and others who have fled war zones. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Patrick Gaspard, who served in the Obama administration, and currently le…
 
This year, several Black artists have been nominated for Oscars, including Ariana DeBose, Aunjanue Ellis, Will Smith, and Denzel Washington. But there’s concern that diversity –in front of and behind the camera– hasn’t been fully embraced in Hollywood. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by April Reign, whose 2015 hashtag #OscarsS…
 
This week, Congress passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act to make lynching a federal crime. It’s named for Emmett Till, a Chicago teenager who was brutally killed in Mississippi in 1955. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by historian Lopez Matthews, Jr. to discuss the harmful myths about lynching, and how its specter haunts A…
 
President Joe Biden’s nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court made history. But according to MSNBC legal analyst Elie Mystal, it will take a lot more than her confirmation to break the conservative hold on the nation’s judiciary. On today’s episode of A Word, he talks with Jason Johnson about the confirmation battle ahead, and abou…
 
Philadelphia may be the cradle of American democracy. But the city has a difficult history with race. The Philadelphia Inquirer’s new project, “A More Perfect Union,” is seeking to shed light on the city’s historic racism. It started with itself, acknowledging a history of its role in perpetuating racism in the opening story “Black City. White Pape…
 
Pornography is more than a dirty secret. It’s a profitable one, making billions from American consumers each year. And like much of entertainment, it trafficks in damaging racial stereotypes. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Dr. Carolyn West. She’s a psychology professor at the University of Washington who produced the docum…
 
The NFL claims that Black coaches are treated fairly in the league. But former Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores is suing, saying he can’t get a job because of racial bias. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Joel Anderson, co-host of Slate’s sports podcast Hang Up and Listen, to talk about the controversy, and the limits of th…
 
Searching for truthful versions of Black history can be tough, especially as honest lessons about racism are caught up in the controversy over Critical Race Theory. In his new book Who Are Your People?, political commentator Bakari Sellers delivers Black history to a generation of kids, something inspired by his own experience as a father. Bakari S…
 
For decades, it has a running joke that Black characters were the first to die in horror movies. But movies like Nia DaCosta’s Candyman and Jordan Peele’s Get Out are rewriting the script, and creating horror villains and heroes who represent the real Black experience. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Tananarive Due, an awar…
 
In theory, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 outlawed all forms of real estate discrimination. In reality, Black home sellers often see their homes valued much lower than similar homes owned by whites. Andre Perry of the Brookings Instititution joins the show today to talk about the how real estate discrimination has robbed Black Americans billions of d…
 
President Biden and Vice President Harris made impassioned speeches in Georgia this week, calling voting rights a top political priority. But the grassroots organizers who helped turn Georgia in 2020 want more than words, and many refused to attend the president’s event. One of those people is Nsé Ufot, the CEO of the New Georgia Project voting rig…
 
This week, we’re bringing you an episode from another show we think you’ll like. Slate's history podcast One Year introduces you to people and ideas that changed American history, one year at a time. The new season of One Year covers 1995, a year when homegrown terrorists attacked Oklahoma City, America went online, and the Macarena took over night…
 
Should journalists work to end American racism, not just report on it? That’s what the Boston Globe’s new project, The Emancipator, is making its mission. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by its co-editor-in-chief, Amber Payne. They discuss The Emancipator’s history, and its vision for an anti-racist American future. Guest: Amb…
 
It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to press play on your favorite Christmas movies. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by essayist and pop culture critic Rebecca Theodore-Vachon to talk about what really makes a Black Christmas movie, and which classics they recommend. Guest: Rebecca Theodore-Vachon, essayist, pop cul…
 
It’s already a devastating situation when a loved one goes missing. And if you’re Black, you’ll likely have fewer resources and help to find your family member. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Derrica Wilson. She’s the co-founder and CEO of the Black and Missing Foundation, the group that inspired the HBO documentary Black …
 
How do you make a struggling public school --with outdated textbooks, a shady principal, and broken everything-- funny? Ask comedian Quinta Brunson, star and creator of the new ABC show Abbott Elementary. Brunson joins Jason Johnson on today’s episode of A Word to discuss the sitcom, her work on HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show, and her unconventiona…
 
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