Politically Re-Active with W. Kamau Bell & Hari Kondabolu

How do we survive in the age of Trump? Kamau and Hari are here for you.   At times, it can be the most useful thing to bring smart and politically astute comedy into the classroom.  And this podcast makes that easily doable.  All the more useful because Kamau and Hari bring their own comedic sensibilities to bear upon pressing political news of the day.  (In addition to this podcast, Kamau hosts CNN’s United Shades of America, a gig that he often reflects upon in Politically Re-Active, and Hari’s new album Mainstream American Comic is a follow-up to his debut album which was released on Kill Rock Stars).

Each episode includes an interview with a political theorist, activist, writer or journalist.  This is a great podcast to integrate into a lesson as a way to foreground the significance of timely events, as they’re emerging and, likely, converging with in-class conversation.  It also lends itself to class discussions about the nature, limits and liberatory potential of public discourse (from social media to university classrooms).

Especially teachable episode

 Pastor McBride Says Stop Reaching For Whiteness (Season 1):  this is an excellent episode to assign as required listening.  Consider re-listening in class to a section together (starting at 6.48) and highlighting, in your discussion, the sound design choices at play (in the framing, editing and juxtaposition of “tape”).  In this section, Pastor Mike explains, “It’s always difficult to talk about race…. People want to believe a beautiful lie, rather than live with the ugly truth.  Race is robbing every single individual of this country of their full humanity.”  Kamau and Hari, as hosts, pause the tape of the interview in order to expand upon the meaning of white supremacy—and the ugly truth that many people benefit from a system of white supremacy.

Consider pairing this episode with James Baldwin’s “On Being White—and Other Lies.”