“Pass the Read like we used to do”: Podcasting, Reading, and Race in The Read

Curator's Note

This clip, and all episodes of The Read, contain explicit language.

On the surface, The Read, hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle, is a hip hop and pop culture podcast that provides commentary on celebrity gossip. However, upon closer look, the podcast operates at the intersection of education and entertainment, allowing a diverse group to listen in on and participate in complex conversations about race (as well as gender and sexuality). The podcast is an effective space for dialogues about race for a couple of reasons.  

First, the medium of the audio podcast, as a remediation of radio, allows the hosts to discuss controversial topics (Miley Cyrus’ MTV award Performance and Paula Dean, to name a few) without censorship and with greater mobility (can be consumed in areas where other media, such as video and text cannot). Second, the hosts use “reading,”  a verbal technique from the black and latino gay community, which is used to artfully insult and express frustration with a person or situation; it centers on authenticity and creativity. The read serves as a rhetorical strategy to approach complex issues like race with humor and honesty.

The accompanying audio clip provides an example of a viewer “reading” George Zimmerman after reports of marital issues.  Previous episodes discussed the George Zimmerman trial and issues surrounding it, such as institutionalized racism, Stand Your Ground, and respectability politics. The listener’s read serves as a response to and continuation of the conversations and reads from previous episodes. This clip provides an example of the authentic and dramatic nature of “reading” and the type of open dialogue that takes place in this space. Although the George Zimmerman trial is a serious and sensitive issue, this read provided a humorous, honest, yet angry approach to the topic.  The combination of the uncensored medium of podcasting and the wit and honesty of reading provides a space for hosts and listeners to express frustrations and present questions about race that normally would not be addressed in a pop culture podcast.



Great post, Chovonne! I think this is a great case study to match Meredith's introduction to the concept of #BlackTwitter and black digital space. I think the really interesting thread is the idea that these space are layered on top of existing space-- so, listening to The Read with headphones in may be a way to transform spaces that are not hospitable to black bodies.

Thank you for introducing me to The Read, Chvonne. The rhetorical act of reading within the rhetorical space of an online podcast gives this particular piece a strikingly unique and powerful message. In listening to The Read, I can see the ways in which the intersections of media and message create a space for social debate that did not exist before. When I think of reading and explain reading, I think I have a hard time explaining the connections between humor, social commentary, and rhetorical agency. One of the reasons its challenging is that I am often asked to perform a read or give an example of a read and that's something I haven't genuinely performed. This, however, will be the example I use in the future.

So first off I'm mad that I had to find this through research online. You know I love "The Read"! Anyway, fantastic job! The thing I love about the show is how it marries humor and pop culture and social activism so well. They can shift between Beyonce stanning and a battle cry for the race in a single breath and I love that! I'm curious to see what else you have to say!

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