Katie McDowell

Movement in motion: Walk, listen, learn

Since this pandemic started, walks have been my salvation.

Even during the past few weeks, as restaurants, shops and markets have reopened, I’ve opted to keep close to home. As we’re witnessing across the country — and in our state — the virus is far from gone, and I still believe it best to avoid public places as much as possible. Not only for my own safety, but for others’, as well.

But the walls of my house, brightly painted though they may be, do tend to close in after awhile, and even a hermit like myself can feel a bit cramped.

So I wander. I stroll through South Park, I trudge up hills. I ogle gardens and homes far nicer than mine and yearn for the big, fenced in yards of my neighbors.

Lately, though, I don’t only use the time to contemplate my physical surroundings, but also my place in the world.

And perhaps more importantly, the space my fellow humans occupy, and the experiences and lives they lead.

Experiences and lives, I’m learning more and more, that enjoy far less ease, safety, certainty and, yes — that dirty word — privilege than my own.

I wrote about it a couple weeks ago, and since then I’ve been giving it a lot of thought — and trying, however I can in my isolation, to do what activists call “the work.”

Examining. Studying. Listening.

I’ve taken the last part quite literally, loading up my phone with podcasts hosted by and about BIPOC.

All my life I’ve been friends with people of color — lived next door to them, talked to them, hung out with them, shared jokes and recipes and laughs with them.

But I can’t say that I’ve ever really appreciated how differently society treats us.

Filling my ears with their stories as I trek through these beautiful, tree-lined streets, unbothered by anyone questioning my right to be there, has been a revelation.

The stories aren’t always easy to hear, but it’s important to me that I do.

And playing them while I walk is invigorating— clearing my head while opening my mind.

Just because we’re cooped up inside doesn’t mean we can’t expand our view.

So, in case others were looking for ways to be more informed, I thought I’d share a few of those podcasts here today.

— “Truth Be Told,” by KQED. I love this podcast, which tackles tough subjects with the help of experts in particular fields, termed “wise ones.” Hosted by Tonya Mosley, the production describes itself as “the friend you call after a long day, to laugh, cry, bitch and moan. The one who gets it.” So far, I’ve listened to conversations about Black men and therapy, Black women and their bodies, the new Civil Rights movement, “well-meaning white folks,” and finding joy in a chaos-filled country so often unfriendly toward its BIPOC citizens — and every one has been enlightening.

— “The Conversations with Jason Campbell and Henrietta Gallina.” I follow Campbell on Instagram, which is how I found out about this podcast that centers around fashion and, frequently, racism in fashion. As someone who’s always been obsessed with the world of fashion, from branding to design to marketing to media, I find this show fascinating, super insightful, and sometimes, terribly disenchanting.

— “Running From Cops,” from Topic/Pineapple Street Media. I actually first listened to this podcast about the problematic practices of shows like “Cops” and “Live PD” last summer while hitting the rail-trail. But I wanted to revisit it in light of current events — and the fact that after years of complaints, both have finally been canceled. For every person who has ever watched those shows and thought, “well, that’s just normal, proper policing,” I think this program will cause you to see things a bit differently.

Katie McDowell is the enterprise editor and lifestyles columnist for The Dominion Post. Email kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.