Nowadays it feels like there’s a podcast for pretty much every person and interest. There are shows for (and hosted by) people obsessed with with movies, music, politics, current events, books, food, history—hell, even murders and serial killers. But diversity and representation in the podcast space is still lacking.
According to a 2017 Columbia Journalism Review article titled Why are #PodcastsSoWhite?, “the iTunes Top 100 chart is dominated by shows featuring white hosts even as research shows the share of the podcast audience compromised of non-white listeners is growing fast.” In L.A. at least, the Latinx podcast space has continued to grow as more and more people of color pick up headphones and mics. A crop of podcasts hosted by women of color, undocumented people, queer folks, femmes, and brujas are giving audiences of color a chance to hear from people with similar backgrounds—and giving everyone else a chance to educate themselves in the Latinx experience.
The next time you’re looking for a new podcast to dive into, diversify your library. These shows are about everything from motherhood and dismantling the patriarchy to survivorship and allyship, and they highlight the importance of the form, not only as passive entertainment during your morning commute but as a way to give voice to people who need it the most.
On Bitter Brown Femmes, hosts Ruben and Cassandra are “dismantling shit while talking shit!,” as the tagline goes. The queer Xicano Femme from southeast L.A. and the Chicana femme from El Paso, Texas, hope listeners can tune in “and see how much work we all need to do, find their own ways to civically and communally engage for a progressive future.” Their goal has never really been to empower their listeners, at least not in the traditional sense. “There’s a lot of places Latinxs could go to find cookie-cutter empowerment,” Ruben says via email. “What we wanted to provide was a lens for fellow Latinxs to truly see how much work we need to do in our community to combat prejudice and injustice.” Ultimately, Cassandra and Ruben wanted to create a space where they could be critical and political while centering QTPOC, women, and/or survivors. “We were tired of most Latinx podcasts being rather apolitical or only dealing with personal empowerment as opposed to communal political and critical thought, which we think offers more tangible benefits, so we decided to be the representation we wanted to see in the world.”
Ruben and Cassandra’s fave episode(s): Episode 4: The Women You Stole, in which they talked about “survivors, terfs, and white feminism.” Episode 11: It’s Not My Fault, I’m Not Happy, where they “criticized problems with ‘representation’ only activism and anti-Blackness in the Latinx community.” Episode 12: If You Had My Loroco, where they featured Salvadoran journalist Daniel Alvarenga, “who was able to contextualize Mexican nationalism and its violence such as anti-Central American bigotry, central hegemony, deportation, and militarization of the borders.” Listen and subscribe here.
Siblings Seb and Yaz host their show from Whittier, where they were born and raised. “Growing up we were always surrounded by strong women–our mother, both of our grandmothers, our tias–who would sit around the kitchen table over a fresh pot of coffee and some chisme [gossip],” the duo says via email. “This was where they shared their lives, their dreams, and their struggles, usually with a lot of laughs and banter.”
Through Café Con Chisme, Seb and Yaz, who have Chilean and Mexican roots, want to reclaim chisme as a “tool that women, femmes, queer, and trans Latinx communities use to navigate the world, to share information, and to build community.” If social justice, politics, pop culture, and all things self-care are your vibe, this show will hit the spot.
Seb and Yaz’s favorite episode: “She Doesn’t Even Go Here,” in which they explore how “we deal with imposter syndrome within the Latinx community. We talked a lot about our own experiences navigating the academy and how to look out for it in your own life.” Listen and subscribe here.
Mala Muñoz and Diosa Femme’s friendship started like the best ones always do: over social media. After admiring one another on the ‘gram, the two finally met IRL at an event in L.A., exchanged numbers, and conceptualized Locatora Radio, a “Radiophonic Novela” that “celebrates the experiences, brilliance, creativity, and legacies of femmes and womxn of color.” Now, a little more than two years later, the “mamis of myth and bullshit” speak truth to power about topics they weren’t able to talk about as Latinas growing up. From discussions surrounding the nuanced layers of femmeness and race, to mental health, trauma, gender experience, sexuality, and oppression, topics like these, Diosa says, “are usually swept under the rug [in Latino households] and with [Locatora Radio] we’re lifting that rug and sweeping that shit out.” Mala also stresses the importance of the archival aspect of their podcast. A teacher by day, Mala believes in the power of educating her listeners. “We all learned from those who came before us through archival methods,” she says, and Mala and Diosa hope knowledge from femmes, LGBTQ folks, and other often underrepresented communities will outlive them through this medium.
Mala and Diosa’s favorite episode(s): “Capitulo 8: Femme Tech” and a crossover episode with SoundingOut!,“ The Sonic Landscapes of Unwelcome: Women of Color, Sonic Harassment, and Public Space.” In “Femme Tech,” Mala and Diosa discuss “creative, traditional, and technological inventions by femmes/women of color and the ways that our skills are transferable, communal, and useful both today and in femme futures.” And in “The Sonic Landscapes of Unwelcome,” they cover the ways in which women of color navigate harassment in public and professional spaces, and the violent and sexually abusive language they endure in public spaces as well. Listen and subscribe here.
On Nos Vemos En El Swap Meet, Santa Ana native Luis Octavio, runs all over Southern California looking for people to talk to at swap meets. And he keeps it simple, always recording from his phone, as he meets folks and tells their stories. “My podcast is about providing a space for everyday people like you and me–whether it be the story of when you crossed the border, or how you began your own business, or perhaps how you escaped abuse–anything people want to share with me, I allow them to,” Octavio says via email. “The ultimate goal is to let our listeners know that they have unique stories worth documenting.” Octavio hopes his podcasts helps motivate listeners to talk to their parents, grandparents, and other elder relatives in order to learn more about their roots and family histories.
Luis’s fave episode: “One of the most memorable episodes has to be the first episode,” Octavio says. “It was tough for me to be able to approach random people and have them open to me, [but] it made me feel like our community needs this space.” Listen and subscribe here.
On Morado Lens, multimedia journalist Cindy Rodriguez and content producer Nathalie Farfan discuss embracing your #InnerBruja, sex, and culture. The two are childhood friends, and the idea for Morado Lens came from countless conversations surrounding spirituality, feminism, and being a Latina in two worlds. Every time they record their podcast, they ask themselves, “is this topic vital to our community and [has] it been done before, what can we bring to the table that brings a fresh angle?” Rodriguez and Farfan want everyone, especially women of color, to walk away feeling inspired, motivated, and feel able to continue to thrive. “It’s time all women come together and empower one another, and that’s what I hope Morado Lens can do for us,” they say.
Cindy and Nat’s fave episode(s): “Episode 72: Prude and the Pornstar,” in which Cindy and Nat dive into the topic of their sexualities. Episode 20: Meet the Badass Leading Packs of Women for the Sake of Social Good, featuring Heidi Hackemer, “where she spoke powerful words for so many meaningful words for so many brujas.” Listen and subscribe here.
Paulina and Bricia Lopez’s hourlong podcast is a judgment-free zone where new, expecting, and experienced mothers can start dialogues surrounding the topic of motherhood. The show began as a way to connect with other moms and build community, and has since turned into an event series that includes Super Mamás Social and Vision Board Posada, IRL get-togethers that connect and empower women through the journey of motherhood. The Lopez sisters began recording the episodes in their office at the restaurant they co-own (Guelaguetza; you might have heard of it once or twice), but have recently opened their own recording studio.
Hosted by nonprofit capacity builder Brenda Gonzalez and Chicana actor, educator, and activist Melinna Bobadilla, Tamarindo features Latinx voices at the intersection of politics and pop culture. “The idea for the podcast stemmed from a lack of diverse voices in the podcast space and the need to highlight important issues surrounding race, gender, and politics,” the hosts say via email. The podcast, which began in 2016, aims to empower and educate their listeners by discussing topics like race, gender, representation in order to “create awareness of how institutional racism continues to play a role in creating barriers for people of color.” Overall, both hosts hope that despite the heaviness of the topics, they can offer deeper insights using a comedic approach.
Brenda and Melinna’s fave episode: “Episode 41: Decolonize Your Beauty, Decolonize Your Diet,” in which the two hosts discuss post-colonial standards of beauty, breaking down those Euro-centric standards, and the concept of decolonizing your diet. Listen and subscribe here.
Co-hosted by Normz La Oaxaqueña and DJ Sizzle Fantastic, Venimos A Triunfar is an “open journal about two undocumented mujeres documenting their triunfos, fallas, y lecciones in their every day lives.” The podcast was born out of multiple conversations about the anger and frustration borne of their legal status in the U.S. The two met back when they first started working as labor organizers, fighting for the rights of undocumented workers. “We aim to share stories about undocumented folks and the muti-faced lives we live,” the hosts say over email. “We share stories about how we are thriving and are joyful (#undocujoy) despite everything we have to overcome.” Their own stories as undocumented Latinas, labor organizers, and entrepreneurs (they also co-host and produce the music event Cumbiaton L.A.) motivated them to launch Venimos A Triunfar and to share these stories, “the good, the bad, the messiness and laughter.”
Normz and DJ Sizzle’s fave episode: “Journal Entry #5 – #KeepAleHome: The Fight Is Far From Over”, featuring reproductive justice and immigrant rights activist Alejandra Pablos. She went on the podcast shortly after her release from a detention center in Arizona, and shed light on the circumstances many detained immigrants face; she’s currently fighting deportation once more. More information on Pablos’s case can be found here. Listen and subscribe here.
Hosts Yarel Ramos, an anchor and reporter at Univision, and Jessica Molina, a creative producer at Spotify, have worked in Latinx media space for years, and WaitHoldUp felt like a chance for them to have conversations that could uplift and motivate others in their community. “We’re very intentional about feating POC voices on the podcast because we know those are the ones often overlooked,” Ramos and Molina say over email. On the show they keep it casual and accessible while empowering and educating their listeners by inviting experts on topics they’re otherwise not extremely familiar with. For Ramos and Molina, there’s also space for everyone at the top. “We want more Latinas with podcasts and we gladly share any bit of wisdom we have so they can get theirs. We all have a voice, our stories are so different, and we want to see more POC winning in the podcast space,” they say.
Yarel and Jessica’s fave episode(s): “My favorite episodes are the ones where it’s just been the two of us having intimate conversations,” says Yarel. For example, “Episode 30: Birthday Revelations.” “Our birthdays are a week apart and we were both going through very different and interesting times–it was super therapeutic.” Jessica’s favorites are “Episode 37,” where they interviewed reiki healer and meditation teacher Miallana Snow, and “Episode 21” with womb shaman Anabel Vizcarra. Listen and subscribe here.
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