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These 11 Vox podcast episodes give more context to the protests happening across America

Listen to everything from what “defund the police” really means to how the world views these protests.

Protests Continue Across The Country In Reaction To Death Of George Floyd
A portrait of George Floyd is seen during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 17, 2020, in the Manhattan borough of New York City.
Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

The recent anti-racism protests, which began in Minnesota on May 26 in response to a video showing the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer, have spread globally, leading to broader calls for an end to police brutality and systemic racism.

How did we get here? To understand this moment, you have to understand more about the history of racism and police brutality in America. These Vox podcasts will help you learn more about these issues, including how the protests and unrest are a result of “America’s nightmare,” what the “abolish the police” movement is really about, and why writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is hopeful about the future.


Protesting during a pandemic

June 11, 2020 | Thousands of people have taken the streets to protest during a pandemic. Brian Resnick explains why not all public health experts think that’s a bad thing.

Minneapolis commits to “dismantling” the police

June 9, 2020 | Minneapolis City Council member Alondra Cano explains what the city wants to do — and what might get in the way.

After George Floyd

June 9, 2020 | Jane Coaston, Dara Lind, and Matt Yglesias on America’s dual reckonings with racism and police impunity.

A former prosecutor’s case for prison abolition

June 8, 2020 | Paul Butler, author of the book Chokehold: Policing Black Men, began his legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job he describes in this conversation as “basically just locking up black men.” Then the tables turned, and Butler found himself falsely accused of a misdemeanor assault. “After that experience I didn’t want to be a prosecutor any more,” he writes. “I don’t think every cop lies in court, but I know for sure that one did.”

That experience put Butler on a journey very different from the one he began. Now a Georgetown Law professor, Butler has come to believe that the criminal justice system is not merely broken and in need of repair; rather, it is working exactly as it was designed, and thus needs to be completely reimagined.

Defund the police?

June 5, 2020 | Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias on reformism vs. radicalism and reimagining law enforcement.

The Talk

June 5, 2020 | Two mothers talk to their teenage sons about race and police brutality in the United States.

Why Ta-Nehisi Coates is hopeful

June 4, 2020 | The first question Ezra Klein asked Ta-Nehisi Coates in this episode was broad: What does he see right now, as he looks out at the country? “I can’t believe I’m gonna say this,” he replied, “but I see hope. I see progress right now.”

Coates is the author of the National Book Award winner Between the World and Me and The Water Dancer, among others. Klein and Coates discuss how this moment differs from 1968, the tension between “law” and “order,” the contested legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Trump’s view of the presidency, police abolition, why we need to renegotiate the idea of “the public,” how the consensus on criminal justice has shifted, what Joe Biden represents, the proper role of the state, the poetry Coates recommends, and much more.

But there’s one particular thread of this conversation that Klein hasn’t been able to put down: There is now, as there always is amidst protests, a loud call for the protesters to follow the principles of nonviolence. And that call, as Coates says, comes from people who neither practice nor heed nonviolence in their own lives. But what if we turned that conversation around? What would it mean to build the state around principles of nonviolence, rather than reserving that exacting standard for those harmed by the state?

How the world sees the George Floyd protests

June 4, 2020 | Zack Beauchamp, Jennifer Williams, and Alex Ward discuss the global impact of the anti-police violence protests in America. They talk about large solidarity protests across Europe, explaining why and how they’re such a big deal and how police violence against foreign journalists is affecting relationships with key allies like Australia. They also talk about how hostile dictatorships, such as China and Iran, are exploiting racial tensions to hurt America’s global image and deflect criticism from their own human rights abuses — a tactic with deep Cold War roots.

The problem with police unions

June 3, 2020 | Even after Derek Chauvin was captured on video killing George Floyd, he could still get his job back. BuzzFeed’s Melissa Segura explains how.

Antifa?

June 2, 2020 | President Trump wants to blame the unrest on antifa. Vox’s Zack Beauchamp explains what antifa is and why Trump is wrong.

American Nightmare

June 1, 2020 | Professor Ibram X. Kendi explains how the protests and unrest are a result of black America’s living nightmare and what it will take to wake up.


You can listen to these episodes and more Vox podcasts on Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts.