Journalists tell you what you’re missing from the mainstream news. Co-hosted by award-winning journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, IN THE THICK has the conversations about race, identity and politics few people are discussing or want to discuss.
From 2019: Hyper Visible and Invisible
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35:00Our Best of ITT series continues with this roundtable from 2019. Maria and Julio are joined by Shamira Ibrahim, culture writer on race, identity and politics, and Margari Hill, co-founder and executive director of the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, to discuss how the intersecting identities of being a Black Muslim woman lead to anti-Blackness both within the Muslim community and in the United States at large. ITT Staff Picks: Shamira Ibrahim writes about the power of photography and photo archives in preserving the rich culture and story of the Black community and rejecting negative stereotypes assigned to them, in this article published in Harper’s Bazaar. Maram Ahmed highlights some of the talented Black Muslim women behind the rise of British Hip-Hop, in this article for Refinery29. “Speaking to CNN about McCarthy’s proposal, Omar suggested that her religion played a role. She said of her colleagues that “many of these members don’t believe a Muslim refugee, an African, should even be in Congress, let alone have the opportunity to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee,” writes Philip Bump in this article for The Washington Post.
From 2017: The Many Accents of Rita Moreno
17:54Our Best of ITT series continues with this episode from January 2017. Maria and Julio lead a discussion with legendary actress Rita Moreno about her star-turning role in “West Side Story” and her role in the reboot of Norman Lear’s classic television series, “One Day at a Time.” As they go behind the scenes of many of her most recognizable roles, both old and new, they get into issues of representation, accents, and race. ITT Staff Picks: Frances Negrón-Muntaner writes about Rita Moreno’s impact on the Puerto Rican community and on American culture as a whole, in this article for PBS. Actor Antonio Banderas writes about his experience voicing the “Puss in Boots” character for almost two decades and how it changed his career and the industry as a whole, in this column for The Hollywood Reporter. Raul A. Reyes writes about Raquel Welch’s complicated relationship with her Latina identity throughout her life and career as a Hollywood star in 1960s America, in this article for NBC News.
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From 2019: Ladies First
42:53The next episode of our Best of ITT series is from July 2019, and it gets into the significance of Black feminism. Maria and Julio talk with writer and activist Feminista Jones about her book, “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World From the Tweets to the Streets.” They also discuss the influence of hip-hop on women's sexual liberation, the importance of mental and spiritual health, and Black women speaking out on their experiences with sexual abuse in the #MeToo era. ITT Staff Picks: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor writes about the Black feminists of the Combahee River Collective and the divisions within the feminist movement, in this article for The New Yorker. “Dorothy Pitman Hughes passed away at the age of 84 after a long, active life spent advocating for equality and human rights for all people. Known as a pioneering feminist activist, Hughes devoted her time and resources to serving people with the greatest needs,” writes Feminista Jones in this article for InStyle. Kaitlyn Greenidge writes about the Sisterhood, a 1970s Black women’s writing group that rose from the Black power and women’s movement and focused on creating work for each other rather than the white mainstream, in this piece for Harper’s Bazaar.
From 2018: LIVE From Chicago, Suave’s Story
38:54We continue our Best of ITT series with this live episode from May 2018. Maria and Julio take the stage at DePaul University in Chicago with David Luis “Suave” Gonzalez, artist and a former juvenile lifer, to talk about Latinos and mass incarceration. Along with hearing Suave's story, Julio also interviews Maria, who at the time had been covering Suave's story for more than 25 years. ITT Staff Picks: In this bonus episode of the Suave podcast, Maria and Suave reflect on everything that has happened in the year after their podcast was released, including the fact that they won a Pulitzer. Tamar Sarai writes about how prison policies have increasingly limited extended family visits and how that also limits the relationships and access to intimacy for incarcerated people, in this article for Prism Reports. “In its premiere, Inside Story travels to Louisiana, where we find a community group protesting the state’s decision to move some youth to Angola, a notorious prison for adults,” write Lawrence Bartley and Donald Washington, Jr. to preface their documentary essay for The Marshall Project.
From 2020: Ancestral Power
46:25Our Best of ITT series continues, as we celebrate our 7th year anniversary! In this episode from July 2020, Maria and Julio are joined by authors and historians Daina Ramey Berry and Kali Nicole Gross to talk about their book “A Black Women's History of the United States.” They analyze the history of Black women in America and their legacy of activism, resistance and entrepreneurship. ITT Staff Picks: Olivia Lapeyrolerie writes about the incredible life’s work of Marvel Cooke, a Black reporter and union organizer, who inspired Black women activists such as Angela Davis and spent her life fighting systemic inequities and the exploitation of Black people, in this article for Teen Vogue. “The challenge of solving the Black wealth gap is informed by another time in our past when Black people were the wealth of this nation,” writes Daina Ramey Berry in this piece for The Boston Globe. The Free Black Women’s Library features a collection of four thousand books written by Black women and Black non-binary authors and celebrates these authors through workshops, readings, story circles, performances, cultural conversations and a monthly reading club.
From 2022: Raising Antiracist Leaders
34:43We’re continuing our Best of ITT series to celebrate seven years of In The Thick with this episode from June 2022. Maria and Julio are joined by Ibram X. Kendi, founding director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, for a conversation about his book “How to Raise an Antiracist.” They discuss the evolution of his antiracist scholarship, the rise in mass shootings and white supremacist attacks, and how Black and brown communities can work together in solidarity. ITT Staff Picks: Kathryn Joyce writes about New College in Florida, a once liberal arts college that is being transformed into a right-leaning institution by DeSantis, who wants to replicate this motion across the country, in this article for Vanity Fair. “What I found in How to Be A (Young) Antiracist was a kind of meditation on the ways that the personal is, as they say, political,” writes Janell Ross in this interview with author Ibram X. Kendi, for Time Magazine. “The maintenance of racism has required the public’s ignorance of racism. The public’s ignorance of racism requires a perpetual undermining of public education,” argues Ibram X. Kendi in this excerpt from his book "How to Raise an Antiracist," published by USA Today.
From 2016: Law and Order, Is It Black and White?
35:24To celebrate ITT’s 7th year anniversary, we’re going back into the vault to share some of our best episodes that have helped shape our show. In this episode from our first year in 2016, Maria is joined by ITT all-star Terrell Jermaine Starr, host of the Black Diplomats podcast, Zak Cheney-Rice, a features writer for New York Magazine, and Tracey Meares, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law at Yale University, to discuss policing in America, and whether reform is possible. ITT Staff Picks: Gothamist shared ways to help victims of the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria, which left over 7,000 people dead so far. Find out how you can help here. Jonathan Ben-Menachem writes about new research that shows how heavily policed communities are more likely to withdraw from civic life, in this piece for Bolts magazine. “In interviews, Nichols’s relatives have attempted to ensure that he is remembered as a man beyond the gruesome video of his beating. One piece of information from these interviews stood out to me: Tyre Nichols also loved sunsets,” writes Clint Smith in this piece for The Atlantic.
ITT Sound Off: Kevin and the Chaos Kids
20:48Julio and guest co-host Renée Graham, opinion columnist and associate editor at The Boston Globe, discuss Tyre Nichols’ funeral and the white supremacy behind the undercounted number of police violence cases in the U.S. They also discuss the College Board’s amendments to its AP African American Studies course, which were made shortly after Gov. Ron DeSantis rejected the course in the state of Florida. And, they unpack the recent vote to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Republican Nikki Haley’s run for presidency. ITT Staff Picks: “With the police killing of Nichols, the wash-rinse-repeat cycle has begun anew. There have been protests, though nowhere near as large or diverse as those in 2020. Black people, as usual, are doing the heavy lifting. There are talks again about reviving the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that previously stalled in the Senate. But it’ll never get through House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s extremist puppet masters,” writes Renée Graham in this piece for The Boston Globe. John Nichols writes about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s record on foreign policy and states that despite her removal from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, she will not be silenced, in this article for The Nation. Marcus Anthony Hunter writes about how the African American story is also the American story, and yet it is an uphill battle to teach African American history in light of Gov. DeSantis’ decision, in this article for the LA Times. Photo credit: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File
The Unapologetic Music of Puerto Rico
32:53This week, we’re talking about the second season of “La Brega,” a co-production from WNYC Studios and Futuro Studios. Julio is joined by Alana Casanova-Burgess, co-creator, host and producer of “La Brega,” and Jeanne Montalvo, grammy-nominated audio engineer and radio producer with Futuro Studios, to talk about the series, which takes us through the Puerto Rican experience in eight songs. They discuss how Puerto Rican artists, like Bad Bunny, have raised awareness for political and social issues on the island, and also get into the cultural and musical exchange between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Subscribe here to La Brega so you don’t miss any new episodes! ITT Staff Picks: In this episode of Code Switch, find out how Bad Bunny has become a megaphone for Puerto Rican politics and issues, which have been a major influence in his music career. Alana Casanova-Burgess discusses Bad Bunny’s activism and love for his island in comparison to the song Preciosa, one of Puerto Rico’s unofficial anthems, in the first episode of season 2 of La Brega. George Varga unpacks the Grammy’s history of “playing it safe,” often rewarding white artists over artists of color, and details some of the new initiatives that will hopefully make the organization more diverse, in this article for The San Diego Tribune. Photo credit: Photo by Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP
ITT Sound Off: The Shades of Gray
19:29Julio and guest co-host Fernanda Santos, editorial director of Futuro Media, discuss the recent mass shootings in California, two of nearly 40 that have happened this year so far. They also unpack the anti-government protests in Peru that have resulted in a nationwide state of emergency, and they get into Meta’s decision to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts after two years of being banned. ITT Staff Picks: “Mass shootings — where four or more people, not including the shooter, are injured or killed — have averaged more than one per day in 2023. Every week has had at least six mass shootings,” writes Júlia Ledur in this article for Washington Post. “While the United States may have a ways to go before it reaches the crisis level that Peru reached, the seeds are all there,” writes Julio in his latest opinion piece for MSNBC. Wajahat Ali writes about how Meta’s decision exemplifies the GOP’s influence on American institutions, in this article for Medium. Photo credit: AP Photo/Martin Mejia