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New York Times ‘1619’ podcast highlights story of the first enslaved Africans arrival to America

5/5 Stars

Podcast host Nikole Hannah-Jones of The New York Times remains calm and emotionally riveting throughout the “1619” podcast series. This review focuses primarily on the series’ trailer, “Introducing ‘1619’.” Hannah-Jones not only provides context to the Black Lives Matter movement but also provides listeners with a personal perspective on the arrival of enslaved Africans to the English colony of Virginia that really hits home. Hannah-Jones makes the audience yearn to connect with history when she asks “what happened here on August 20, 1619?” This line ends the brief five minute podcast but only begins the conversation.

Hannah-Jones grips the audience when she explains the emotions that ran high through African people’s minds during this early struggle of racial divisions. “Fear turned to despair, and despair to resignation and the resignation gave way finally to resolve,” Hannah-Jones said. Not only does this line provide our generation with context on how much of an emotional battle experiencing racism was back then, but it can shed light on the current battles we’re facing in regards to racism and difference. It is important that we understand how and why the world has changed. Without this understanding, how can we ever improve? How can we ever accept that change is necessary?

One of the featured points concerned stolen African lives, more specifically, the African Americans aboard The White Lion, a boat which transported many African persons to America to be later sold into slavery. Hannah-Jones recounts the fact that “they had been made black by those who believed themselves to be white”, and that “where they were headed, black equals slave, so these were their people now.” For the people aboard this ship, this meant that there was no more sense of familial or personal pleasure. Everything they had ever known was no more. Their historical context and background had been taken away from them without any say in the matter — this was a journey they had to face together.

The many implications of this podcast in current times are drastic. It is important to understand the past to look forward to the future because the future is uncertain, as this past year has shown us. All matters regarding race discussed in each episode are real, their  impact important and  implications riveting, making the six-episode podcast raw and emotional. The five episodes after the trailer podcast, “​Introducing ‘1619,’​” delve further into the personal, social, physical and emotional struggle African Americans faced then, and hold dire implications for the future of America and for the discussion of racism and equality.

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