Where Are the Podcast Blaccents? Vote for the 2019 SXSW Panel

Americans love to talk like Black Americans. So why not listen to us, too?

Yaaaaas. It’s lit. Deadass. Bless up. Thicc. No shade. Issa. Bae.

These commonly used colloquialisms originated from Black-American slang, and yet, you’ve probably heard Americans of all races repeat these phrases on any given day — especially on the internet. Just one scroll of your Twitter timeline will. Tell. You. That.

Black culture has quickly integrated and appropriated into greater American culture — except when it comes to podcasts. When was the last time you heard a highly produced NPR-style show where the host was speaking in a “blaccent”? Where’s the This American Life equivalent with a host who sounds more like Cardi B or Peaches Monroe than Ira Glass?

I’m Sam Riddell, and I’m an independent podcaster-turned-professional podcaster at Inverse who’s learning how to navigate when to use my very own blaccent. As a podcast creator and listener who grew up listening to, learning from, and admiring folks who use African American Vernacular English, I have questions when it comes to the missing black accents in podcasts. That is why I am pitching the SXSW panel: “Where Are the Podcaster Blaccents?”

I will sit on the panel with three other black women, and together we will unpack these questions regarding the blaccent within the podcast medium.

  • Why is the “blaccent” favored in certain parts of American culture but not in podcasting?
  • What impact does a dearth of black dialects have on black listener adoption of the podcast medium?
  • What would a podcast climate look like with serious and highly produced audio series telling stories using African-American Vernacular English?

Naima “Queen” Muhammad of the womanist race nerd podcast, Tea With Queen and J, will join the panel to discuss her perspective as a podcaster who does not “code switch,” or attempt to sound more white or palatable to white audiences, in her work. Landy Whatley, a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University specializing in African-American rhetoric, will discuss the historical and social context behind the black accent and how it allows black folks to relate to each other; and Danielle “Berry” Sykes, the curator of Podcasts in Color, the largest database of podcasts for and by people of color, will moderate the panel discussion.

If you, like me, are curious about the lack of blaccents in podcasts, and want to know why that is and how to change it, help the panel get selected to be presented at 2019’s South by South West Festival!

Vote for “Where are the Podcast Blaccents?” in the SXSW PanelPicker!

And check out these other Inverse panel proposals for SXSW 2019:

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