If you listen to podcasts, I would suggest a listen to Nice White Parents, a five-episode look at a school and district in New York City on themes of integration, segregation, education and activism in the neighborhood. Its premise is that white families, whether inadvertently or intentionally, are often the roadblock to systematic change in many schools, and it often comes under the banner of diversity.
From the series’ blurb:
We know American public schools do not guarantee each child an equal education. Two decades of school reform initiatives have not changed that. But when Chana Joffe-Walt, a reporter, looked at inequality in education, she saw that most reforms focused on who schools were failing: Black and brown kids. But what about who the schools are serving? In this five-part series, she turns her attention to what is arguably the most powerful force in our schools: White parents.
I found the series, by Serial/New York Times productions, to be compelling listening, as the reporter — Chana Joffe-Walt, a white parent herself who also calls into question her own bias and thinking in the podcast — interviews over many years a range of parents, students and school officials and others amidst changes happening now in her school district, while she also digs deep into the historical records for a view of New York City schools.
Peace (listening in ),
One of the benefits of being at home is that I am diving into more podcasts as I do my multiple daily walks with dogs or just to get away from the screen. An intriguing series that I have been following regularly is called Rabbit Hole, produced by the New York Times, and it explores the impact of YouTube and its recommendation algorithms in its early episodes, and then begins to open wider.
It’s central inquiry question: What is the Internet doing to us?
These audio inquiries are at first, fascinating. and then frightening, as I could only think about all the young people home now, spending hours and hours — more hours than ever — watching YouTube and following who knows what algorithmic paths into who knows what strange corners of YouTube. The podcast reporters follow one person’s YouTube history (they downloaded the entire thing, with his permission, and then traced how he spent hours every day over a few years, watching YouTube) as the young man became increasingly radicalized by YouTube – first to the fringe right, and then to the fringe left.
The last few episodes have pivoted a bit, and focused on the impact of PewDiePie as a cultural force — the podcast calls him The Accidental Emperor. He started with quirky videos about video games on a whim, grew to millions of viewers, and then became a lightning rod for his political humor (including more than a few bits that uses Nazi symbolism for jokes). Learning more about him and what he has been doing with his millions and millions of viewers at YouTube is worth your time, as the cultural undercurrents of his sophomoric humor and focus by progressives often happens outside of the mainstream, but have resonance in the entire digital world.
And if you don’t know who PewDiePie is, your surely kids do. Trust me.
Listen to the Rabbit Hole podcast series.