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A Word … with Jason Johnson
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A Word … with Jason Johnson

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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 his incisive wit to thoughtful discussions with leaders, journalists and other change-makers who will tell the truth about America’s challenges around race, and ideas on the way forward.

175 Episodes
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Blerd Up

Blerd Up

2024-07-1234:40

It's convention season, and nerds everywhere may be suiting up to attend the Cons, gatherings of hardcore science-fiction, comic book, fantasy or anime fandoms. That includes BlerdCon, the gathering where Black nerds celebrate their interests in comics, anime, gaming, and much more. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by two artists who will be featured at this year’s BlerdCon, comedian Jay Washington, and actor Phil Lamarr. They talk about the event, the evolution of Black nerd culture, and handling the backlash over diversity in science fiction and fantasy entertainment.  Guests: Performers Jay Washington and Phil Lamarr Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
This year’s Supreme Court session loosened laws on official bribery, overturned decades of precedent on regulation, and granted immunity to the president for official actions. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by legal analyst Elie Mystal of The Nation. They review the Court’s most important decisions, and talk about the political implications and the potential fall out for ordinary Americans.  Guest: Legal analyst Elie Mystal Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
In this election year, there’s more criticism and distrust of the media than ever. For veteran journalist Ali Velshi, his belief in the power of journalism is rooted in a family history of pursuing social justice, across continents and generations. On today’s episode of A Word, he joins host Jason Johnson to talk about his career, and his new memoir Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy.  Guest: Ali Velshi, MSNBC host and author of Small Acts of Courage: A Legacy of Endurance and the Fight for Democracy  Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
June is Black Music Month, and this year marks the 30th anniversary of some of the most influential albums in contemporary African American music, including Nas’ Illmatic, and TLC’s CrazySexyCool, to Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by pop culture columnist Panama Jackson to discuss the legendary Black music of 1994, and the difference between a merely great album, and one that’s going to stand the test of time. Guest: Panama Jackson, columnist at TheGrio Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Daddy Lessons

Daddy Lessons

2024-06-1436:43

The stereotype of Black fathers is that they’re largely absent, and uninvolved in their children’s lives. And that image persists, despite research that suggests that Black fathers are often more involved in the daily care of their kids than white fathers. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Sean Williams, the founder of The Dad Gang, an organization that uplifts and supports Black and other marginalized fathers. They talk about the challenges of fatherhood, and building a community where dads can help each other. Guest: Sean Williams, founder of The Dad Gang Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
“Petty.” “Jealous.” That’s what many male sportscasters are saying about the women competing against WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark. The former Iowa star is bringing a new level of attention to women’s basketball, but many men who ignored the league for years are now leading the coverage. So how is sexism and racism fueling the way they’re talking about Clark and the rest of the WNBA? On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by veteran sports journalist Jemele Hill to discuss the way the media treats Clark and the African American players who are competing with her. Hill is a contributing writer to The Atlantic, and wrote about the issue for them in the article, “The One Downside of Gender Equality in Sports.” Guest: Veteran sports journalist Jemele Hill Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Not So Smooth Criminal

Not So Smooth Criminal

2024-05-3130:511

Former President Donald Trump and his supporters are furious after his conviction on all 34 counts related to his hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by legal analyst Yodit Tewolde to discuss the path to the conviction, key moments in the trial, and what the verdict says about the justice system. Guest: Legal analyst Yodit Tewolde Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Haiti has suffered under decades of crises, but the latest may be its most intractable. Violent criminals are now effectively in charge of the country, after years of assassinations and political instability left a power vacuum. As a new international force prepares for an intervention, A Word host Jason Johnson discusses the current troubles with Patrick Gaspard, leader of the Center for American Progress. They explore how Haiti fell into such dire circumstances, the role that American guns and policy have played, and how Haitian Americans and the U.S. government could help Haiti find stability. Guest: Patrick Gaspard, chief of the Center for American Progress Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Drake didn’t know who he was messing with, and was never on Kendrick Lamar’s level in hip hop. That’s the verdict of cultural commentator and author Touré. On today’s episode of A Word, he joins host Jason Johnson to break down the meaning behind the brutal rap battle, and whether Not Like Us, BBL Drizzy, Family Matters and other songs central to the beef will rewrite the blueprint for diss tracks forever. Guest: Touré, host of the Touré Show podcast, and author of Nothing Compares 2 U: An Oral History of Prince  Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is arguably the strongest voice of his generation on the role of race and identity in American politics and culture. He’s the author of several books, including “Between the World and Me,” “We Were Eight Years in Power,” and “The Beautiful Struggle,” and the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant and a National Book Award. For this week’s episode, we feature a conversation between Coates and host Jason Johnson, recorded live at the recent Cascade PBS Ideas Festival. They discuss everything from the diss track battle between Drake and Kendrick Lamar, to the campus protests over the Middle East, to the limits –and necessity– of participating in electoral politics.  Guest: Award-winning writer Ta-Nehisi Coates Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The city of Flint, Michigan made headlines in spring of 2014, after public officials recognized dangerously high lead levels in the water supply. After ten years and three presidents, many African American Flint residents say their health is still being compromised by their water, and civil actions aimed at compensating them have –so far– only enriched lawyers. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Adam Mahoney, the climate journalist for Capital B News. They discuss how the water crisis has affected everything from schools, to crime, to housing, and about ongoing efforts to make it right. Guest: Adam Mahoney, climate reporter for Capital B News Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
True Life, True Crime

True Life, True Crime

2024-04-2629:161

True crime is a hot topic for movies, television, and –yes– podcasts. At the center of many of these stories is a missing woman. In the She Has A Name podcast, veteran journalist Tonya Mosley tries to reconstruct the death –and life– of a woman who went missing in 1987, a woman who happens to be her long lost sister. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Tonya Mosley to talk about uncovering the mystery around her sister Anita’s disappearance and death, and how the podcast helped her connect to a family that she never knew.  Guest: Tonya Mosley, host of the podcast She Has A Name Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Nostalgia for the 1990s is everywhere, and for a generation of African Americans, perhaps nothing symbolizes the fun of that decade more than Freaknik. A sprawling days-long festival of all the good –and bad– of spring break behavior, at its height, Freaknik drew tens of thousands of partiers each year from around the country to Atlanta. So why did the party stop, and is there any way it could ever come back again? On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson discusses the Hulu documentary Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told with director P. Frank Williams and executive producer Geraldine Porras.. Guests: P. Frank Williams and Geraldine Porras, the director and executive producer of Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told on Hulu. Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Commentator Candace Owens’ messy fall from grace in conservative media coincided with her appearances on popular Black chat shows. That includes The Breakfast Club, led by radio host and personality Charlamagne tha God. Once a minor social media personality who condemned Donald Trump as racist, Owens became one of the former president’s chief defenders, and a leading Black voice of anti-Black rhetoric. So is Owens saying anything new in Black media, and were those outlets doing the right thing by inviting her? On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Michael Harriot. He’s a columnist for The Grio, and the author of Black AF History: The Un-Whitewashed Story of America. Harriot recently wrote for The Guardian, criticizing the choice to platform Owens in African American media. In this interview and an earlier version of this episode description, we incorrectly stated and implied that Candace Owens’ interviews on Joe Budden’s podcast and The Breakfast Club happened after The Daily Wire announced her separation from the outlet on March 22. They both occurred before, with the Budden interview recording the week of February 27, and being published in mid-March. The Breakfast Club discussion was recorded on March 18 and aired on March 21. We regret the error. Guest: Writer Michael Harriot Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Criminal Injustice

Criminal Injustice

2024-04-0533:43

A young Black man, wrongfully accused of sexual assault, is convicted nonetheless. Evidence that could’ve exonerated him is withheld or covered up, and he spends much of his youth in prison. It sounds like a movie-of-the-week, but it was the real life nightmare of Jarrett Adams. Throughout his incarceration, he fought for his freedom and eventually won. Now, he’s a defense attorney who helps other wrongfully convicted people find justice, and build better lives on the outside through his organization Life After Justice. On today’s episode of A Word, Jarrett Adams joins host Jason Johnson to talk about his experience with the criminal justice system, and why the punishment may continue long after a conviction is overturned.  Guest: Jarrett Adams, co-founder of the non-profit organization Life After Justice  Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Run for the Border?

Run for the Border?

2024-03-2925:432

The American Dream has long been out of reach for many Black people in this country. Between police violence, the lack of economic opportunity, and the threat of a second Trump term, many African Americans are considering building their dream lives in another country. And for thousands of people, Mexico is one of the top destinations. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by Adam Mahoney of the CapitalB News to talk about why many Black Americans are moving south of the border, where they’re settling, and whether their new country is as welcoming as they’d hoped. Guest: Adam Mahoney, reporter for CapitalB News Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Myrlie Evers was arguably the first civil rights widow, a woman who was plunged into activism after the assassination of her husband—Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers—in 1963. She survived to become a leader of the movement in her own right. But what’s less well known is the remarkable story of how the couple came together, and how their love endures, decades after his death. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by journalist Joy-Ann Reid to talk about her book, Medgar & Myrlie: Medgar Evers and the Love Story That Awakened America. Guest: Joy-Ann Reid, host of MSNBC’s The ReidOut Podcast production by Ahyiana Angel Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Beyoncé has announced that the second act of Renaissance will be a country album. “Cowboy Carter” is set for release at the end of March, Women’s History Month. Beyoncé has already made history as the first Black woman to top the country charts with “Texas Hold ‘Em,” and recently received Dolly Parton’s blessing to cover her classic song, Jolene.  While Beyoncé may seem to be breaking new ground, much of country music has always been rooted in African American culture, and Black women have been singing country for decades. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by DePaul University Professor Francesca Royster, the author of Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions. They talk about the history of Black women in country music, the racial tension that has kept many African American fans away from the genre, and whether this moment represents a new era for Black country artists.  Guest: Professor Francesca Royster, author of Black Country Music: Listening for Revolutions Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
March is Women’s History Month, and for centuries, the roles of Black women in key moments of American history have been diminished. One book that takes a unique approach to exploring their stories is Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts. The book combines historical narrative with illustrations depicting African and African American women rising up against their enslavers, often at the cost of their own lives. On today’s episode of A Word, host Jason Johnson is joined by Wake’s author, attorney and educator Rebecca Hall. They discuss the leading role many Black women played in slave uprisings, and the complicated politics that have kept their stories hidden for so long.  Guest: Rebecca Hall, author of Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola. Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Green Black Power

Green Black Power

2024-03-0134:411

Environmentalism has long been viewed as a preoccupation of white, educated, affluent voters. But climate change disproportionally impacts communities of color. Now a new generation of activists is building political awareness around environmentalism in the Black community. That’s part of the mission of the Hip Hop Caucus, a group that’s been working for decades to activate young voters around climate justice as a civil rights issue. On today’s episode of A Word, Hip Hop Caucus leader Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. joins host Jason Johnson to talk about the impact of environmental policy on Black Americans, and how to harness political power around the issue. Guest: Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr., chief of the Hip Hop Caucus Podcast production by Kristie Taiwo-Makanjuola Want more A Word? Subscribe to Slate Plus to immediately access ad-free listening across all your favorite Slate podcasts. Subscribe today on Apple Podcasts by clicking “Try Free” at the top of our show page. Or, visit slate.com/awordplus to get access wherever you listen. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (5)

Teddy

And he believes the world is flat. Soooo....

Oct 25th
Reply

Tia Dinsmore

..m l. mmnmn

Oct 2nd
Reply

Stephanie Davis

Really good podcast episode! It's good to listen to other perspectives.

Sep 13th
Reply

joel casas

havegatP34R and c

Jun 12th
Reply

Terry Dunson

I have looked through history of black people but it is not extensive. I found some black people have done amazing things. But if you cove complete black history, you would want to look throughout the world. Looking into African history and culture, there are some people there that are among the black race to look into. But just looking into black Americans, it doesn't take long to see amazing ancestry of amazing people. Faith was the foundation that pulled joy in that moment. But the black Americans that looked forward and excelled in their skills are an icon to seeing what is possible. Unfortunately, like many other races, we are showing the bad side of our culture with violence. Being equal as humans is a goal that solves racial tension. The " I have a dream " speech is that kind of outlook that heals racial historical tension. Many cultures have a bad history, but moving forward will reflect the quality of race.

May 25th
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