9 Podcast Episodes That Help Build Empathy


It is no secret that 2020 has been a tough year. The pandemic and social unrest has amplified many existing inequities in America. These are big, complicated issues that have led many individuals and companies to ask what they can do to be part of the change.


As many of us naturally turn inward and reflect this coming new year, amidst quarantines and lockdowns, listening to the stories of others can help be a bridge to greater understanding and insight. Stories can create empathy, and empathy can help spark change. Here are nine podcast episodes that offer a window into individual human experiences that are part of a larger cultural story.


The Podcast: The Goop Podcast


The Episode: “How the Caste System Continues to Shape Our Lives”


Host Elise Loehnen talks to Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, on the history of man-made racial hierarchies, and how they’re continuing to perpetuate systemic inequalities in America today. Wilkerson uses many real-life stories of people she has interviewed to show the human element in larger systemic issues. They also talk about the ways inequities impact everyone, not only the marginalized groups.


The Podcast: Unlocking Us With Brene Brown


The Episode: “Tarana Burke and Brene on Being Heard and Seen”


#MeToo movement starter Tarana Burke speaks with Brene Brown, shame researcher and author of Dare To Lead, about how the theory of “empowerment through empathy” is altering the way we perceive sexual violence and social justice.


The Podcast: In the Gap


The Episode: “The Motherhood Penalty, Part 2: Parenting Discrimination”


Journalist Chandra Thomas Whitfield hosts a 12-part podcast series called “In the Gap” that interviews everyday Black women and experts on their workplace experiences in the workplace. In episode 4, she talks to hospitality worker Tam on paying her dues and working her way up to management, and the racial and gender discrimination she experienced when pregnant. It’s one woman’s story as a window into the “motherhood penalty.”


The Podcast: The Fix With Michelle King


The Episode: “Tamra Ryan: Life After Lock Up”


Women make up only 10% of the incarcerated population, but their rates are growing faster than men’s. Tamra Ryan, CEO of Women's Bean Project, discusses the challenges women face when re-entering society after leaving jail, as well as issues such as money bail and family separation that greatly impact incarcerated women.


The Podcast: How To Survive The End of the World


The Episode: “Tip of the Iceberg”

In this episode, writers, activists, sisters and podcast co-hosts Autumn and Maree Brown reflect on their experiences as the daughters born from, in their words, “an interracial love story.” They share how the Black and interracial experience is not a monolith, ways privilege and oppression show up in our lives, how race interplays with class and education, and much more.


The Podcast: Unshaming


The Episode:Shame Of Black Trans Identity


Unshaming is a podcast that “invites us to break down shame, together” by amplifying the stories of marginalized people to give them greater representation in media. In this episode, trans singer, actress, entertainer, and advocate Ivana Black tells her personal story of finding her womanhood, unpacks masculinity and femininity, and what needs to happen to overcome America's transphobia and build belonging for all.


The Podcast: All My Relations


The Episode:Healing the Land IS Healing Ourselves


Hosts Adrienne Keene, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, and Matika Wilbur, a visual storyteller from the Swinomish and Tulalip peoples of coastal Washington, talk to community organizer Kim Smith of the Navajo nation on how Covid-19 is hitting Indigenous communities particularly hard. They discuss how this is one of the many results of mismanagement, and why Indigenous communities need to take matters into their own hands.


The Podcast: Inclusion in Progress


The Episode:White Male Allyship At Work


Leadership coach, diversity and inclusion consultant, storyteller, and entrepreneur Kay Fabella is a first-generation Filipina-American living in Madrid, Spain. In this episode of her podcast, Inclusion in Progress, she speaks to Brian Ballantyne, author of Confessions of a Working Father, on how male allies can help create more inclusive workplaces.


The Podcast: Xceptional Leaders with Mai Ling Chan & Martyn Sibley


The Episode: The Gift of Adversity with Henry Fraser

This podcast features candid conversations with leaders who offer insights on how to better support people with disabilities. In this episode, hosts Mai Ling Chan and Martyn Sibley speak to the author of The Power In You, Henry Fraser, on the accident that disabled him at 17 years old, and the lessons we can all learn in how he embraced a new way of living.


Photo by Siddharth Bhogra on Unsplash.


Article originally published in Forbes.


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