What do Kant, Hobbes and Ice Cube have in common? And what can they tell us about racial injustice in America? The answers can be found in a new podcast series featuring Christian Davenport, Ford School professor of public policy by courtesy. In A Pod Called Quest, he and Rutgers philosophy professor Derrick Darby (formerly at the University of Michigan and associated with public policy) examine everything from the wealth gap to voting rights, to police brutality, to reparations, to health and well-being, to climate change, to state repression.
Davenport, a professor of political science in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, as well as a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies, says he wants to use any method to communicate: OpEds, board games, film, academic writing and non academic books. So why not try a podcast? “And 50% of Americans are listening to these,” he notes.
He refers to himself as “Science”: and Darby as “Sage” in the series, exemplifying the different ways they approach issues. They first met at U-M and taught a course on Black Political Thought together. When Darby left for Rutgers, the podcast was a way to continue the collaboration.
“My colloquial voice is different from my academic voice, but I can address my academic interest in a different way on the podcast,” he says.
Tapping into classical and pop culture sources, they use their “Ptolemaic method” to examine three topic areas: politics, economics and social and cultural factors, across three time dimensions: diagnosis of the problem, prognosis of where we are going to go, and the means/prescription to get from one to the other.
The first episodes have looked at reparations, the Biden transition, the current politics of Georgia through the lens of W.E.B. Du Bois, the presidential election and the “Contract with Black America.”