A Word … with Jason Johnson

A Word … with Jason Johnson

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.

Episodes

May 13, 2022 25 min

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, an expert on diversity in tech and artificial intelligence. They talk about the pol...

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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 space for joy in the midst of grief. 

Guest: Marisa Renee Lee, a writer, speaker, and en...

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April 29, 2022 31 min

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 Musk’s definition of free speech and his record on race could mean for the future of B...

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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 foundation was published in New York Magazine. He addresses what he uncovered about th...

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April 15, 2022 29 min

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 discuss the resurgence of white evangelical influence in politics, and why so much of...

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April 8, 2022 27 min

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 joined by financial advice author Lynnette Khalfani-Cox to discuss the biggest tax and f...

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April 1, 2022 27 min

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 Witherspoon about how race is playing out in the debate over what happened, and what shou...

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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 leads the Center for American Progress. He addresses how race and ethnicity play out in...

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March 18, 2022 25 min

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 #OscarsSoWhite sparked a vigorous debate over inclusion in the film business. She addresses t...

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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 African Americans to this day.

Guest: Lopez Matthews, Jr. is an executive council membe...

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March 4, 2022 25 min

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 about his new book Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution.

Guest: Eli...

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February 25, 2022 26 min

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 Paper.” On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson is joined by veteran political journa...

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February 18, 2022 26 min

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 documentary “Let Me Tell Ya’ll Bout Black Chicks: Images of Black Women in Pornography.” T...

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February 11, 2022 26 min

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 the “Rooney Rule” in ending racism in hiring for NFL coaches.  

Guest: Joel Anderson, co...

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February 4, 2022 26 min

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 Sellers joined Jason Johnson on today’s episode of A Word to talk about the importance...

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January 28, 2022 30 min

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 award-winning author and producer who teaches Black Horror and Afrofuturism at UCLA, to d...

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January 21, 2022 27 min

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 dollars in generational wealth, and what can be done to change it. 


Guest: Andre Perry,...

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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 rights group. On today’s episode of A Word, Jason Johnson talks with Ufot about dangers ...

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January 7, 2022 50 min

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 nightclubs.

When a serial rapist struck Ann Arbor, Michigan, the police turned to drast...

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December 31, 2021 27 min

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: Amber Payne, co-editor in chief of The Emancipator at the Boston Globe

Podcast production ...

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