Political podcaster Alina Murad talks social justice, Concordia, and getting involved in activism
Alina Murad is a Concordia student and the host of “PoliticalThot,” a political explainer and interview podcast with a specific focus on systemic and institutional racism and xenophobia. The first five episodes are available on Spotify, and the most recent two are in video format on Instagram. I spoke to her via video call on Friday.
What prompted you to start your own podcast?
I’ve always been a pretty politically involved person, but one day I was in class and learned something that really pissed me off, so I went on Instagram and I took a selfie, captioned it “political thot of the day” and just, like, did a rant, and I got a bunch of responses. Positive, negative, I got some threats, it was a whole mixed bag of things. And I realized, like, I actually have a lot of thoughts here that need a platform, so why not make a podcast?
So now that you have that platform, who are you speaking to?
It’s geared toward millennials, young people, primarily, but focused on people of colour. And the reason for that is the topics my podcast deals with — racism, xenophobia — this isn’t the first time people have heard about them, but a lot of the time the way these topics are dealt with doesn’t keep in mind that they are sensitive and emotional and triggering, especially for people of colour. So I am keeping in mind that these topics are sensitive … It’s primarily a safe space to learn and grow.
I definitely get that impression listening to it — often political podcasts tend to be more news-focused, analyzing specific current events as they occur, but PoliticalThot seems broader in scope. During this time of the 24/7 news cycle, what role do you see your podcast playing in the political media landscape?
I’m actually really glad that you asked this question, and especially that you mentioned the 24/7 news cycle. While it’s so important to keep up to date with news, the way that the news is dealing with reporting, it’s often very sensationalized. And most media outlets will not show you what’s happening behind the scenes, they’re not going to say “hey, here’s the reason for all of these xenophobic behaviours we’ve been seeing.” So PoliticalThot deals with things more broadly in the hopes that it’ll help people to analyze more news, more everyday situations.
Likewise, your most recent episode was a three-parter on anti-Blackness at Concordia. Alongside checking out that episode, what do you think Concordia students should be considering about this institution as we start our classes this year?
There’s so much to consider. I find it really interesting because part of the appeal, to me at least, of Concordia was that it’s this integrated campus in the city, and the facade they give off in their advertising is “oh we want you to get involved in the community, give back, get involved with politics, get involved with social justice,” but they have a very long line of “political incidents,” if you will – good and bad – that they cover up. So the first thing I’d say is to do your research, learn the history. The computer riots, the bomb threat in the EV building three years ago that was targeting Muslim students, the sexual assaults that still haven’t been properly dealt with. And the second thing is to really actively bring pro-Blackness into our institution. Because more times than not, Canadian institutions will inherently be anti-Black. So pay attention to Black scholars, Black activists– and not just on Instagram! Read books written by Black Canadian authors like Robyn Maynard and be aware of the racism disguising itself as credibility in academia. Actively seeking pro-Black information and materials and bringing them into the institution is so important.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take action on social justice issues but might be afraid to get started?
It’s definitely a scary thing to put yourself out there, but I think the one thing to keep in mind is that everyone is learning, and making a mistake isn’t the bad part, the bad part is not taking accountability, not fixing it, not learning from it. That’s all we can ask, right? For people to learn, to try, to grow. And if you’re gut-wrenchingly terrified of doing something, I’m sure you can find friends that also want to try and get involved — you’ll have friends who might already be involved. Just ask people. That’s honestly one of the best things about social justice work, it’s the humanity. It takes a village to do anything, and when you trust people and you put faith in people, people are good.
Graphic Courtesy of Alina Murad