By my own admission, I am a loner. I am a socially awkward introvert so lacking in many of the most basic social graces that even Abed Nadir would side eye. So I knew it would not be easy to be on my own when I moved across the country four years ago in hopes of pursuing a better life for myself. How’s a girl supposed to make friends when social interaction is painful and exhausting?
Worse, how is a past-college-age Black woman with radical political leanings and a high intolerance for intolerance supposed to find people with similar interests to build relationships with? Introverts may like their own company, but sometimes we like to risk getting out of the shell.
Enter podcasts. Podcasting has opened up the media landscape in a way that has made it more accessible to produce original content. While many of the more well-known podcasts remain dominated by white males, many Black women have managed to produce their own podcasts whether to explore their own interests and hobbies or to fill the void in media representation.
Over the years I’ve spent building my new life, I’ve podcasts have saved that life again and again.
These five podcasts led by Black women have given me life and made getting through the day much more tolerable.
I must start with a disclaimer for this particular show. I now know the ladies of this podcast personally and consider them friends. Anyone who interacts with me on social media knows how much I adore this show.
For five years, Nerdgasm Noire Network has brought nerdy fun from the perspective of an eclectic set of Black women each week. The six members include De Ana (@NaniCoolJ), Jamie (@thewayoftheid), JP (@isitis), Maria (@_Roxie), Melissa (@blackgirlgeeky) and Kia (@TheLastStorm).
Every Tuesday night, the ladies offer nerdtastic news, showcase Black-owned businesses and discuss the latest in pop culture happenings as well as larger societal issues. I set my Tuesday night schedule around NNN so that I can participate in the chat sessions that accompany the live shows.
But Nerdgasm is so much more than the podcast. The ladies also hosts events such as #AnimeSquees, which livetweets anime shows, and includes interviews, panel sessions from various cons and guests from other podcasts.
The Nerdgasm women also pursue other ventures that I’ve found inspiring. For instance, JP cohosts Operation Cubicle along with Shareef Jackson of Gaming Looks Good and Science Looks Good. Jamie co-founded HoodFeminism.com with Mikki Kendall. Maria writes for the film site Shakefire and co-owns the online plus-size clothing store Fat Tax with De Ana. De Ana is also a columnist at Arsenal for Democracy.
Obviously, Nerdgasm is my favorite podcast and the relationships I’ve forged with these women have more than made up for my lack of social capital once I step outside my doors. However, there are other podcasts I enjoy for different reasons.
On Sunday afternoons, the three discuss newly released films, television shows and relevant topics affecting current pop culture. While the women do not focus solely on Black-led films and media, they always come from the perspective of Black women's criticism, providing a unique take on the films and shows they discuss. They have also done interviews with notable Black women such as Regina King and Salli Richardson-Whitfield.
Furthermore, their extensive knowledge of films and film history helps fill in the void many run into when looking for more well-rounded representations of Black women in film and television. Each woman also maintains her own blog and website to give further analysis and thoughts on films and television.
As someone with a background in communications (two degrees actually) that includes film studies, I appreciate the nuance these women bring to cultural criticism. That intellectual side of me enjoys the critical stance they take on reviews, giving more than just a thumbs up or thumbs down on films and television. I’ve also found so many films directed or otherwise led by Black women through this show, which makes it easier for me to find and support Black women in media.
Blackwashed is a bit of a different show for me. It features four "unapologetic" Black women discussing their lived experiences as Black women: Ides, Jasmine, LQ and Vicki. The ladies typically release shows once a month and discuss issues prominently featured in media over the past month as well as their own lives or, as they explain, “anything and everything relevant to the contemporary Black lady experience.”
One of the joys of this show is that it provides a great example of a diversity of Black women's voices in one place. Each woman comes from a different experience and they do not always agree on topics they discuss. Furthermore, UK-based Vicki brings a non-US-centric perspective to the show. Part of the point of Blackwashed is to show these different experiences of Black women.
It’s refreshing to get these multiple voices in one place. So many shows don’t let Black women agree to disagree or acknowledge the differences in our points of view. Blackwashed provides me with so many different perspectives on issues I’ve thought about for years or that are just now coming to my consciousness.
Black Girls Talking
Four outspoken women also make the panel of Black Girls Talking. Alesia (@aaaisela) , Aurelia (@aurelia_nicole) , Fatima (@fatifatfatfat) and Ramou (@ramou) deconstruct the latest in pop culture and larger societal issues affecting Black women.
They also occasionally conduct interviews with luminaries such as Janet Mock, Jasika Nicole and Reagan Gomez. As with the ladies of Nerdgasm and Blackwashed, the women of Black Girls Talking have an easy rapport with each other as well as different perspectives that do not clash but rather complement each other. While the podcast acknowledges current topics of the day, it is also fun when in need of friendly background banter.
As with Blackwashed, Black Girls Talking is a great example of diverse voices within one set of Black women. Like Nerdgasm, the show is fun and easy to listen to. I sometimes forget they are not all in the same room.
I must also make the disclaimer that I also personally know Tanya (@cypheroftyr). Furthermore, I must admit that she has been a huge inspiration over the past few months, showing how much dedication and passion can take you. That passion for gaming has extended to me even though I would not consider myself a gamer. However,, I love listening to gaming, anime and manga geeks talk. They have the best conversations and their love for the genres is infectious.
Tanya began a movement when her hashtag #INeedDiverseGames trended on Twitter and showed just how much gamers craved more diverse representation in the games they loved. She has not only used I Need Diverse Games to bring awareness of the continued lack of diversity in gaming but also to alleviate the problem. Now with her co-host David, she has moved into podcasting with Fresh Out of Tokens to discuss gaming with creators and consumers of the gaming industry.
Tanya has also helped generate interest in gaming through live-streaming on Twitch TV and critiques a variety of games while promoting gamers of color. Currently biweekly, the podcast includes gamers and game developers who critique the gaming industry from the diversity standpoint including race, gender, sexuality and other marginalizations.
My lack of gaming experience doesn't matter -- the writer in me gets reminded of the value of storytelling and reflecting those who are marginalized and I’m looking forward to the weeks to come with this podcast.
Of course these are only a few of the many podcasts from Black women available. Each one brings something unique to the podcast landscape and goes a long way toward creating more well-rounded representations of Black women in media while helping me and the rest of the audience find other sources of diverse representation.
Most of all, that introvert in me is a little less lonely and a lot more validated.