The Revolution Is Being Podcasted
These popular audio shows use compassion, practical tools, and a little millennial humor to encourage listeners to engage.
You want to act against injustice, but you don’t know how? You think nonstop, one-sided political commentary seems to hurt more than it helps? A few podcasters are sharing a different perspective on the activism around us. And with compassion, practical tools, and a little millennial humor, they’re encouraging us to engage.
Sherry Mitchell & Rivera Sun
The news rarely shows how movements such as NoDAPL and Black Lives Matter are built on love and non-violent activism. Sherri Mitchell and Rivera Sun want to bolster that narrative.
Mitchell, a Penobscot author and Indigenous rights attorney, and Sun, a White novelist and activist, are co-hosts of a podcast called “Love (and Revolution) Radio.” They report from the front lines of social justice movements, covering resistance to oil pipelines, police brutality, mass incarceration, drone warfare, nuclear proliferation—all with a mix of activism and spirituality.
“We wanted to inspire people, to help them to recognize that they are not powerless, by sharing stories of individuals who are actually involved in heart-based change,” Sun says.
Sun and Mitchell’s friendship sparks hope: They both grew up in Maine, but Sun was completely unaware an impoverished reservation was just 100 miles away, where Mitchell lived. Compassion helped them learn from each other.
“When we start thinking about the work we’re doing out in the world, we need to be guided by wisdom,” Mitchell says. “That wisdom comes from our hearts.”
Roqayah Chamseddine & Kumars Salehi
Roqayah Chamseddine, a Lebanese- American writer based in Sydney, Australia, and Kumars Salehi, a California Ph.D. student and self-described “total nerd,” met on Twitter around the time Bernie Sanders lost the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. As Hillary Clinton and the mainstream Democrats took center stage in the general election, Chamseddine and Salehi saw a need for providing strong voices on the radical Left that inspire action—and are also fun to listen to.
That’s when they started “Delete Your Account,” a left-wing podcast that they co-host with a dose of millennial humor. They discuss activism and organizing around urgent problems—the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, the Palestinian freedom movement, organizing in the workplace, sexual violence. Guests on the show tend not to be heady analysts, but people working for change.
“We try to talk to activists and people that are doing on-the-ground work, because we think that actually helps give people the tools they need—if they’re listeners and they want to get involved—to identify problems in their environment and in their community, and actually take practical steps toward ameliorating them,” Salehi says.
Andre Koen & Brian Jost
Brian Jost lives in St. Anthony, Minnesota—the suburb patrolled by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed Philando Castile in 2016. As yard signs for both Black and Blue Lives Matter sprang up in the neighborhood, Andre Koen, a Black diversity trainer, and Jost, a White person trying to learn about race, turned their conversations into a podcast.
In “Armchair Activist,” they explore race and police brutality in the Twin Cities, avoiding shame, blame, and guilt. Koen’s guests have included an outspoken Black activist and the St. Paul police chief, as well as a state legislator who proposed a bill allowing police to fine protesters.
“We’ve lost that ability, or the desire, to actually engage in conversations with people who differ from us, when in the past that was an invitation for friendship,” says Koen, whose father, a Black Panther-turned-Pentecostal-preacher, taught him to pursue social justice.
“I get frustrated,” he says. “I get, sometimes, confused as to why things aren’t moving at the pace that I think they should. But at the end of the day, I have to recognize that I have to speak up.”