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How has our definition of racism evolved


How has our definition of racism evolved

Written by
Noam Hassenfeld & Byrd Pinkerton (Vox)
Reading time
Reading time
3 minutes
Suited for
Topic suited for
11-14 years

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In the Summer of 2020, cities were filled with mass protests which prompted children to question the narratives that racism is a thing of the past or only about interpersonal hate. Children asked, “why are we still protesting racism today?” It is important that we provide white children with a nuanced lens to understand that racism is interwoven into the United States’ history and therefore reproduces racial inequities. It takes active and ongoing work to understand and disrupt racism. In the podcast below, we will learn more about the nuanced definition of racism and how to apply the lens to our understanding of racism.

Before you listen to this podcast, ask yourself:

The podcast, Today, Explained to Kids, takes on the summer of protests and violence.

The Island of Explained: A Summer of Protest | Podcast Episode

Summer is coming to an end, and as we head back to school here on the Island of Explained, we’re thinking about the fun times we’ve had with the Experimoth and Bored the Whale. But we’re also thinking about some of the hard issues this summer has raised: news about people being killed because of the color of their skin.

So we’re devoting our fourth, and final, episode of Today, Explained to Kids summer series to systemic racism. We talk with Kennedy Mitchum, a recent college grad who got Merriam-Webster to update its definition of racism; Morgan Givens, a former police officer who now produces his own kids podcast, Flyest Fables; Vox reporter Fabiola Cineas; and 11-year-old Jolia Bossette, who wrote her elementary school graduation speech about Black Lives Matter.

After watching the podcast, reflect on the following questions to start conversation:

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Noam Hassenfeld & Byrd Pinkerton (Vox)

Noam Hassenfeld & Byrd Pinkerton (Vox)

About Noam Hassenfeld

Noam Hassenfeld is the host and senior producer of Unexplainable. He also composes the show’s music. Before Unexplainable, Noam was a reporter/producer for Vox’s daily show Today, Explained, where he was also responsible for the show’s periodic parody songs. In summer 2020, Noam co-created Today’s Explained first spinoff mini-series, Today, Explained to Kids, where reporters and kids traveled to the magical Island of Explained over the course of a five episode arc. Prior to joining Vox, Noam worked at Latino USA, composed music for video games, and taught third-grade science.

About Byrd Pinkerton

Byrd Pinkerton reports and produces for Unexplainable, and co-created the show. In the past, she’s produced multiple seasons of Vox’sFuture Perfect and The Impact, traveling with hosts from Melbourne to Taipei to Kalamazoo in search of narrative policy stories. In her time at Vox, she also co-created a five part children’s series and produced the weekly Worldly podcast. Before Vox, she worked on daily news at NPR. Byrd has loved podcasts since she was sixteen and had to download them on a computer before manually transferring them to an iPod, but she’s loved science since she was six and her stepdad set up chemistry experiments for her in their kitchen.

About Vox:

Vox explains the news. In a world of too much information and too little context, too much noise and too little insight—Vox’s journalists candidly shepherd audiences through politics and policy, business and pop culture, science, and everything else that matters, empowering its audience with the context they need to answer questions they didn’t know they had. Vox is home to influential verticals including Recode, The Goods, and The Highlight; a robust podcast lineup.

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