Welcome (back) to ‘Dear Culture’!

OPINION: As the new host of theGrio’s legacy podcast, Dear Culture, Panama Jackson breaks down his vision and goals for the show.

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

*Taps mic*

Is this thing on? Oh yes, it is! Why hello, there. I’m Panama Jackson. You may remember me from such riveting documentaries as Bald-Head Games or Reindeer Games, Better Than Monopoly? You Be the Judge or Did Boo Boo the Fool or Your Lil’ Friends Drink All My Kool-Aid: Economic Shortfalls in the Age of Aquarius. It’s possible that you never saw either of them—they don’t exist. But they could. And that’s why I’m here. To bring those discussions to life, perhaps even here at theGrio and on Dear Culture, the podcast by, for and about the culture and the Black community. 

Yep, that’s right. I’m taking over the hosting duties for Dear Culture, one of theGrio’s legacy podcasts (over 100 episodes deep), with new vim and vigor and, in the parlance of one Patti LaBelle, a new attitude. Gerren Keith Gaynor and Shana Pinnock were so gracious enough to give me their blessings, and with that, we have executed a perfect hand-off, and the baton is now mine to inject a new experience into the podcast. 

I can’t tell you how excited I am to undertake this undertaking. One of my favorite things to do is write about and discuss Black community happenings and indulge in conversations about sublime Black cultural landmarks and linchpins. Or, in layman’s terms: I like to have in-depth conversations about shenanigans and do hoodrat things with my friends. And if we’re able to sprinkle a little bit of knowledge and education into the entertainment, then we have really won the game. My hope is to create a space that allows for conversations about any number of things that represent the full breadth of the Black community: art, music, books, people, places, things, etc. I want to be a place that dives into conversations that aren’t happening anywhere else with people that might not get the chance to have those conversations. 

And I specifically want it to be a place that takes on topics that do matter as well. I want Dear Culture, continuing in the tradition of the previous hosts, to not only live in entertainment but focus on the things that matter as well. The Black community isn’t a monolith, but what happens in America and the diaspora impacts us all. I want to have those conversations as well. 

Dear Culture is my opportunity to make another dent in the culture. For instance, it will be a place to discuss some of my hottest takes (i.e., Janet Jackson’s best albums are better than Michael’s) and some of my most ardent curiosities (why exactly is Brandy considered the “vocal bible”?). We’ll talk about albums that move the needle and talk with artists who are doing what they can to move the needle in spaces that we might not all be paying attention to. And on occasion, we’ll impanel a bunch of Black people to talk about Blackfamous things. Ladies and gentlemen, Dear Culture will be brown liquor conversations, hopefully not from a plastic bottle. 

So please, kick off your shoes, relax your feet and party on down with the DCP, just kick it. 

Thank you for sleepwalking, it’s going to be a hell of a ride, and we look forward to you going on it with us. 

Panama Jackson theGrio.com

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).