In 2014 the senseless murder of Mike Brown shook the nation. It was that tragic incident where many people, including While Black podcast creator Vince, came to the realization that the string of fatal police-related shootings happening throughout the country were far from being isolated situations and the ugly truths about racism in America were being brought to the forefront. While watching news coverage of the unrest that was unraveling in Ferguson following the 18-year-old’s death, alongside some of his white colleagues at work, Vince couldn’t help but notice how disconnected they were. The detachment and disregard left him feeling unsettled, forgotten, and invisible. He couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that one could be so detached from an incident that impacted the entire country. He also was appalled by what he says were inaccurate narratives surrounding Brown and what took place that were being perpetuated by the media. It was in this moment where he realized he needed to become a voice for his community and utilize his platform to enlighten folks on what it’s like to be Black in America.
After years of using his social media platforms as an avenue to inform and ignite crucial conversations about social and political issues as they relate to the Black community, in 2018 Vince decided to launch the podcast While Black. The name stemmed from the James Baldwin quote “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” He also pulled his inspiration from gems dropped by the late rapper Tupac Shakur about racial and economic inequality in America. “I have an obligation to reach across this color isle and begin to inform white America of what it is to be Black in America. My social channels have a diverse audience and I understood the influence of my reach. I turned my social media feed and my platform into a social justice lightning rod,” Vince told NewsOne.
Going beyond the mission of giving individuals insight into the complexities of being Black in America, he also wanted to use the platform to close the knowledge and education gaps within the Black community. “I’m trying to create a platform that can use entertainment and fun to educate us on things that we truly need to be educated on. Whether it is correcting misconceptions, whether it is providing awareness, or whether it is providing additional education or inspiration. I find topics where I feel like there could be gaps within the African American community and I try to fill them.” Cognizant of the fact that the Black experience in America isn’t monolithic, Vince and his cohost Art feature a wide spectrum of guests who are experts in different spaces. From rappers to doctors and wealth building to parenting, the podcast covers a large range of topics.
He says some of the most memorable guests that have been featured on the podcast include musician Okorie “OkCello” Johnson and Black activist Kimoni Sadiq. “Every episode will be with someone who has expertise or credibility in a space. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s thought-provoking, based on reality and provides you with something to chew on.”
For Vince, While Black is all about educating and empowering the Black community to take control of their narratives. He also hopes that the moves he’s made with the podcast inspires other Black creators to break into the world of podcasting and often uses his platform to highlight other African American podcasters. Representation is needed in the podcast space. Although more Black podcasts are being created, research shows that hosts are predominately white and male. He says increasing the representation of Black podcast listeners and creators starts with “reminding and reassuring individuals that their perspectives add value to conversations.”
As far as what’s on the horizon for the podcast, While Black is partnering with Apple which has one of the world’s largest platforms for podcast discovery and listenership. When asked about what he loves about being Black, Vince replied “We are a culture of people who are constantly evolving. We continue to push into areas and things that most of the world would say we have no business doing. There’s been this awakening inside of us to embody Black, to exude Black, to embrace Black, to codeswitch less, and to not be afraid to be in our own skin.”