‘Dear Culture’ Presents ‘Tru-ish Black Stories’ for Black History Month

OPINION: All February long, the podcast will focus on examining significant moments in Black history that may or may not have actually happened. 

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

One of the reasons I got into the business of writing was because it afforded me the opportunity to tell Black stories. Despite what Hollywood might have you believe, the myriad experiences and perspectives of our community all need to be seen and heard. It’s why I love Black film so much. Sure, some of the movies are an exercise in “maybe just don’t” but you know what? Everybody deserves a chance to win or lose. 

Such is the case with “Dear Culture,” a podcast from theGrio Black Podcast Network. Part of my love for doing the podcast is to highlight folks who might not get that chance and have conversations that I don’t see happening anywhere else. But also, it’s a chance to tell some stories that need telling. For Black History Month, the podcast will examine some significant moments in Black history. We’re going to take a look at moments, though, that people don’t really focus on. At “Dear Culture,” we’re going to let our souls glow and let them shine through. 

For instance, we’re going to examine the story of Ricky Baker, who died in the streets of south central Los Angeles in the early ’90s. Most people know Ricky’s story, but we’re taking a look at what it meant for the Black community at large and what it was like for those who grew up with Ricky and Doughboy and some of the other boys in the ‘hood. 

We’re also going to look at one of the most important voices of all time in Randy Watson, from Jackson Heights, Queens. His rendition of Whitney Houston’s song, “The Greatest Love of All” is iconic, perhaps one of the greatest singular performances of all time. Is it? People who were there as well as some who heard from afar will discuss the import of Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate to the greater conversation about Black music and the Black community as a whole. 

Because it’s also important to talk about scholastic achievement, we’re going to head back to Los Angeles to take a look at how 11-year-old Akeelah Anderson’s achievement of co-winning the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee basically created a pathway for today’s Black Excellence wave. Did Akeelah’s win push a whole new group of young, Black children into not only spelling bees, but bees of all sort? Maybe she did. We definitely can’t say that she didn’t. We’ll discuss her Mae Jemison like role as a first in Black History. 

And last but not least, we’ll venture into the world of Los Angeles’ street dancing scene, where a young group of Black boys got served one day by a white crew from Orange County. Did that loss set the Black dancing world back? Was the Black community let down? And what did their eventual win mean as a redemption story … but … at what cost? Each story in our community that comes with a win also comes with a personal loss and that’s to be examined. 

By enlisting the support and voices of preeminent Black thought leaders like Michael Harriot, Shamira Ibrahim, Monique Judge, Dr. Chrstina Greer and Damon Young (among others), we will tell these stories and ensure they live on forever. 

Make sure that you check out “Dear Culture” every Thursday in February for another riveting significant moment in Black history, wherever you get your podcasts, in theGrio app and via YouTube. Subscribe to “Dear Culture” so you never miss an episode. 

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).

Make sure you check out the Dear Culture podcast every Thursday on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, where I’ll be hosting some of the Blackest conversations known to humankind. You might not leave the convo with an afro, but you’ll definitely be looking for your Afro Sheen! Listen to Dear Culture on TheGrio’s app; download it here.