To openly describe myself as a “true crime fan” makes me uncomfortable. And yet, whether it’s a Netflix special about opportunistic scammers or gripping cold cases retold by a plucky investigative reporter, I eat true crime up. I am deep into the thick of the genre, especially in 2022, when the recent success of Netflix’s Tinder Swindler and cult podcast Sweet Bobby. prove there’s a real thirst for the dark, disturbing and terrible.
To enjoy true crime is to admit you’re entertained by the most horrendous of criminal stories, whilst also understanding that there’s very real victims involved. It’s something Black true crime podcasters — yes, they’re out there! — appear to grapple with the most. Yes, they are “entertainment” but amongst the vast stories of white criminals and their victims, some Black creators are using their true crime platforms as a means of service to forgotten Black victims.
Back in March, actress and activist Erika Alexander, dropped podcast Finding Tamika to Amazon’s Audible, a neo-noir crime drama charting the disappearance of Tamika Huston, a 24-year-old Black woman from Spartanburg, SC who went missing in 2004. The series is said to unearth “the troubling phenomenon that is the media’s lack of significant coverage of cases of missing or murdered Black women.” Sadly there are many stories like Tamika Huston’s that have been forgotten or overlooked by the mainstream media. Similarly, true crime stories told by Black creators, especially concerning Black victims, have a tendency to float under the radar. As Metro wrote in 2021, the biggest consumer of true crime podcasts tends to be white women aged 18-50. In the true crime world, they are marketed as the biggest victims of violent crimes and yet, in the UK and US, statistically white women “are much less likely to be the victims of violent crime” compared to Black women and trans women of color. Now, true crime content concerning the lives and traumas of people who look like you, can feel a little too true and real. Yet true crime continues to dominate podcast charts.
There’s more than enough room for Black people to tell their own and forgotten stories, in their own voice, albeit the darker themes. With that said, I’ve found eight Black podcasts that highlight forgotten victims of color.
“We felt her presence while makingFinding Tamika, whether it be a hand on the shoulder, or a whisper in the wind,” writes Erika Alexander, actress and host of the recently released Finding Tamika podcast. Upon listening, the Audible series is chilling. As mentioned earlier, the neo-noir crime series details the disappearance of Tamika Huston, a 24-year-old Black woman from Spartanburg, SC who went missing in 2004. Created by Kevin Hart and Charlamagne Tha God’s production company SBH productions, the harrowing series is said to highlight how “her case became a rallying cry for other missing Black women in America and led to a growing demand to expose a system that ignores missing girls and women of color.”
Black Girl Gone
Writer and producer Amara Cofer created her podcast for missing and murdered Black women and women of color in America whose “stories never get told”. From cold cases scaling back to the sixties to more recently, the story of Natanalie Perez who disappeared in Miami in 2010, Cofer devotes each episode to the victims and their families. Speaking about her podcast to Democracy Now, she says “I wanted to humanize these victims.”
The American prison system and the people reintegrating into society after serving time are the subject of the Radiotopia podcast, Ear Hustle. Hosted by Earlonne Woods, who was formerly incarcerated, in partnership with Nigel Poor, a Bay Area visual artist. Ear Hustle was the first podcast to be entirely created and produced inside a prison, and now the serial podcast shares the “daily realities of life inside prison shared by those living it, and stories from the outside, post-incarceration.”
Bruh Issa Murder
If you’ve ever found yourself at the very end of a house party, in the grips of a deep conversation with friends too late at night, then you’ll likely feel at home with this podcast. For Bruh Issa Murder, self-professed true crime nerds Andre, Battle, Kelly and Robert sit down and deep dive into “murder, mystery, depravity and injustice.” The four offer a popular style of true-crime content that mixes commentary with splashes of humour where appropriate. Find out where to listen to Bruh Issa Murder on the website.
Sistas Who Kill
We often hear about the Black women victims of violent crimes, but what about the Black women who are perpetrators? For Sistas Who Kill,best friends MaRah and Taz tell stories of Black women who kill, or as they call them, “murderesses” (yikes). As the podcast states, “they discuss the crimes, the outcomes, and how Black women are treated differently in the justice system than their white counterparts.” Listen on Apple podcasts and Spotify
Cases Of Color
Cases Of Color’s host Randi Johnson is a passionate podcaster who understands the value of her platform when it comes to highlighting stories of missing persons and unsolved cases — especially where the conclusion still raises questions involving people of color. The series’ most recent episode details Lauren Smith-Fields, the 23-year-old influencer who was discovered dead in her apartment on December 12in 2021, and lack of urgency from law enforcement to thoroughly investigate her death.
Podcasters Alvin Williams and Francel Evans aim to “shed a light on the darker side of true crime” — a difficult feat given the subject matter but the duo seem to manage with a careful mix of insightful reporting and relatable banter. The weekly “true-crime/comedy” podcast has a focus on murder stories involving minority victims and perpetrators, although do tend to go on random tangents on anything from fast-food to what is actually buried in graveyards. Best for those with dark humour! More on Affirmative Murder
From the disappearance of one-year-old Amir Jennings in 2011, to Sage Smith, a 19-year-old trans woman who went missing from Charlottesville, VA on 20 November 2012, Crime Noir is dedicated to “low visibility true crime cases pertaining to Black people.” Each episode is carefully and sensitively reported by host Candice Gaines.