Some of My Best Friends Are… is a podcast hosted by Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Ben Austen, two best friends who grew up together on the South Side of Chicago in the 1980s. Today a Harvard professor and an award-winning journalist, Khalil and Ben still go to each other to talk about their experiences with the absurdities and intricacies of race in America. In Some of My Best Friends Are..., they invite listeners into their unfiltered conversations about growing up together in a deeply-divided country, and navigating that divide as it exists today.
Obama Book Club
In the weeks after the groundbreaking of the Obama Presidential Library, Khalil and Ben revisit the Obama memoirs, Becoming and A Promised Land: Volume I, on how the Obamas talked about race and racism. From Obama’s retelling of the financial crisis to Michelle’s upbringing on the south side of Chicago, Ben and Khalil discuss how American exceptionalism is intrinsically tied to the Obamas’ stories and their vision of America.
Still basking in the glow of the 2021 US Open, Ben and Khalil take a trip down memory lane to talk about what it was like growing up on South Side Chicago’s predominantly Black tennis scene. From Khalil’s mother watching Arthur Ashe in the 1970s, to the Williams Sisters and Naomi Osaka changing the game, they break down why this sport is in a league of its own when it comes to Black female athleticism.
Back To School Backlash
Can you stop history from repeating itself? That's a question Khalil and Ben ponder at the start of this school year amid conservative attacks and legislation across the country on the teaching of our shared history. They discuss the 1619 Project, the weaponizing of “Critical Race Theory”, its backlash, and the best ways to actually teach American history.
To celebrate the release of the new Candyman reboot, Khalil and Ben revisit the original 1992 film and discuss its deep connections to time and place. They then dive into the 2021 reboot, exploring how each film portrays Chicago, public housing, gentrification, and the ghosts that still inhabit the city. Do you dare say his name five times? Ben and Khalil are up for the challenge!
Ben and Khalil Visit Prisons
On the heels of the 50th anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising, Khalil and Ben discuss trips they took, separately, to visit prisons in Europe. How did the Nazi occupation influence Germany’s modern day prison system? How do guards and incarcerated people interact inside of Norwegian prisons? And why is America’s criminal justice system so broken? Ben and Khalil answer these questions and more, while reminiscing over what made these trips so monumental, and debating whether or not what they observed abroad could ever be replicated back home.
Interracial Buddy Movie Night
Khalil and Ben reflect on the formative movies they saw in theaters growing up that portrayed white and Black men as friends–mainly the 1980’s classics 48 Hrs. and Lethal Weapon. How did these films shape public views on racism and the police? What did they say about being white and Black men at the time? Khalil and Ben share their take–examining the racial tensions in 48 Hrs. and its reaction to the reconstruction period of the Civil Rights Movement, and shedding light on the Cold War politics of Lethal Weapon.
For a transcript of this episode visit https://www.pushkin.fm/show/some-of-my-best-friends-are/
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My favorite podcast!!
Y’all are perfect! Enjoy listening to your show.
Just listened to the one about CRT and 1619. I want to like this because I learn from these conversations. I live in a conservative white world and it’s great to hear smart arguments from the other side. BUT there was little discussion of why there are reasonable disagreements with what’s going on. There are- not everyone is just trying the “cancel” a painful history. There are some that just feel we’ve gone too far in some of the CRT teachings and that the ideals of the country are what should be central- even though we’ve fallen short over and over in practice.
Having lived most of my life in predominately white communities, it’s interesting to hear the perspective of two life long buddies: one white, one black who grew up together on the South Side of Chicago. Ben and Kahlil are thoughtful, well spoken, and share a good sense of humor. This podcast is both entertaining and enlightening.