Northwestern student podcast debuts with discussion on race

Alice Yin, Development and Recruitment Editor

A Medill junior has started a new podcast called “Wildtalks” with the intention of asking the “awkward questions.”

Timothyna Duncan’s new program went live last Thursday evening in a two-part series on Soundcloud. It was titled “Let’s Talk About Race: It’s Not Always Black and White,” and ran in two separate 15-minute segments.

Weinberg senior Rachel Gladney, Communication senior Pleshette Strong and SESP junior Qiddist Hammerly were featured in the first podcast and discussed the black perspective on issues such as cultural appropriation and microaggressions. The panelists wrangled with questions on defining those occurrences, drawing from their own experiences as NU students.

“It’s something I’ve been thinking about,” Duncan said. “I just try to think about any topic that I feel awkward talking about. I love awkward.”

Duncan hopes the podcast will bring NU’s present dialogue on these issues onto a unique platform. She said that although students here are passionate about many topics, much of the dialogue happens on social media platforms, which do not offer cross-community conversation.

Duncan said she was partially prompted to start the podcast in the fall when she saw backlash on social media revolving around campus media organizations, including The Daily, and restrictions on coverage of a Ferguson recap event hosted by For Members Only.

“The whole conversation was happening on social media, which is the worst because you don’t learn anything,” Duncan said. “You create your own world, you choose your friends and you choose what you want to know.”

The podcast aims to run biweekly, Duncan said. Each episode, Wildtalks will feature a different group of students as panelists to tackle what Duncan called “hot-button issues.”

Duncan also has been sending out online and paper surveys to gauge student interest in topics. Future subjects she has slated are dating and hookup culture, mental health and a continuation of the dialogue on race. She said she believes students still feel uncomfortable revealing experiences involving hookups or mental illness, and she wants to bring them to attention.

“We show our highlights so much,” Duncan said. “There’s this gray area, which is awkwardness. And we don’t talk about it. That’s what interests me the most.”

Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president of student engagement, said he also commends the format of a podcast. He said he found the conversation to be “mature and honest,” and that the panelists have perspective on the campus’s culture as students who have been at NU for a few years.

“They were self-critical,” Howard said. “They were recognizing flaws but they’re also incorporating things they’ve learned at NU. You can see some of the research being done.”

Incidents at the University in the past decade have made platforms like Wildtalks more relevant, said Medill sophomore Aditi Bhandari. She said cultural appropriation has been an issue on campus and hopes Wildtalks can take a critical look at what makes something offensive.

“I especially love the Facebook page, which says they’re trying to take conversations that happen on the dinner table and put them on an online forum,” Bhandari said. “That was a great analogy because it is something that happens a lot.”

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