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Our Favorite True Crime Podcasts By Black Creators And Why Their Voices Are More Important Than Ever
Content creators continue to use podcasting as a platform to showcase how racial bias, particularly in the media, has affected Black victims and victims of color.
With Black people disappearing and being murdered at disproportionate rates in the country, the need for Black voices is now more critical than ever.
Studies in 2021 show that while persons of color make up only 13% of the United States population, they make up nearly 40% of reported missing persons, according to the Black & Missing Foundation. As opposed to Caucasian victims, minority victims also get far from proportionate coverage in the media, a damning trend recently highlighted in the phenomenon known as "missing white woman syndrome," in which white females who go missing (typically of middle- or upper-class) seem to attract an exorbitant amount of media attention when compared to missing Black persons.
Black victims of homicide are also commonly portrayed negatively in the news when associated with drugs and criminal activity, such as gangs. It is all too common that the focus shifts onto the living conditions of Black victims who live in poverty.
With calls for more diversity in the media, Black creators continue to step forward to showcase important stories in their community.
Here is a list of some of Oxygen’s favorite true-crime podcasts and why their Black creators continue to fight to get important stories in the spotlight.
1. Black Girl Gone
Philadelphia wife and mother Amara Cofer created “Black Girl Gone: A True Crime Podcast” in 2021, a weekly show aimed at telling stories of missing and murdered Black women and women of color around the United States in a respectful way.
“I was always a fan of true crime,” Cofer told Oxygen.com. “But I noticed that there was a lack of diversity in not only the stories being told but also among the people telling the stories.”
Cofer said she knew the importance of highlighting these women’s stories because she had seen true-crime TV shows and podcasts contributing to some cases being solved. She also recognized that stories of Black women, particularly in mainstream media, were often ignored.
“I want to humanize these women. They were more than the tragedy that took their lives, and so I wanted people to be connected to the story,” Cofer stated. “To the women. To their families. My hope is that the more I tell these stories, the more I can also change the narrative.”
A recent episode of “Black Girl Gone” tells of the unsolved murder of Dana Chisholm, who was strangled to death in her Washington D.C. apartment in February of 1995, just hours after someone pretending to be a cop placed a phone call to the victim’s parents.
“We, the public, determine what goes viral, whose stories get our attention, and so I want missing and murdered Black women and women of color to be a part of that conversation,” said the podcast’s creator.
“Black Girl Gone” airs new episodes every Monday.
An unscripted spin-off show, “Black Girl Gone: Afterthoughts,” began airing in late January.
2. Black True Crime
While some podcasts hope to highlight Black victims, others, like “Black True Crime,” set out to highlight violent crimes committed by people of color.
Texas-based sisters Kayla and Kristin spend their time researching and discussing Black criminals, especially serial killers, for their weekly series. “Black True Crime” not only re-tells true-crime stories but shares investigatory items on its website, taking an active role in the stories they share.
Host and creator Kayla said she used to Google “Black True Crime Podcasts,” but that “next to nothing would come up,” prompting her to spring into action in 2019, she told Oxygen.com.
“There are so many podcasts out there that focus on victims and murderers that, in all honesty, seemed more appealing to the media,” Kayla stated. “Whereas cases involving Black killers or victims [are] rarely ever discussed on those podcasts, and I wanted to level the playing field.”
Kayla added that people of all backgrounds can enjoy the podcast while “also learning about the prevalence of serial killing within the Black community.”
Kayla and Kristin also discuss cases of Black victims and missing persons.
A recent episode covers the case of James “Tim” Norman, the man who once starred in the reality series “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” before he was charged with his nephew’s murder-for-hire, a case covered by Oxygen.com. Kayla and Kristin discuss how Norman’s acts — for which he was convicted — took away from the trailblazing St. Louis-based soul food chain, Sweetie Pie's, owned by Robbie Montgomery, who was Norman's mother. Norman and his nephew, Andre Montgomery, both appeared on the OWN show.
The hosts warn listeners that “Black True Crime” isn’t for the faint of heart, with new episodes airing every Thursday.
You can also catch the sisters during their 2023 tour, with stops in several major U.S. cities.
3. It's The Mystery For Me
Speaking of sisters, Priscilla and Norma Hamilton are behind “It’s The Mystery For Me,” a weekly true-crime podcast focused on missing persons and murder cases of Black women and girls. Norma tells Oxygen.com she is 15 months younger than her sister, both of whom are based in New York.
“We are two, Black-Afrolatina women with law degrees, and just so happen to be sisters,” Norma told Oxygen.com.
Priscilla commented that the fight for justice for Black victims often starts from the initial encounter with law enforcement. A good example is “trying to convince law enforcement that your child should be categorized as a missing person and not a runaway.”
“The truth is, for every JonBenét Ramsey, there’s an Asha Degree,” Priscilla continued.
She was referring to the high-profile Valentine's Day 2000 disappearance of 9-year-old Asha Degree, who was last seen walking away from her Shelby, North Carolina home with her backpack during a rainstorm in the middle of the night. The child’s backpack was found buried nearly one year later, according to ABC Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV.
Investigators believe she was abducted.
Tamara Greene was a mother and exotic dancer from Detroit who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 2003, a case that remains unsolved, according to NBC Detroit affiliate WDIV-TV. Memphis-born hairdresser Jacklyn Miller, like Petito, was strangled to death by her boyfriend in 2010.
“Each week, we focus on one case related to the disappearance, mysterious death, or murder of a Black woman or Black girl,” Priscilla told Oxygen.com. “In doing so, we are able to spotlight the Ashas, the Tamaras, and Jacklyns, whose stories are equally deserving of public outcry, countless documentaries, and hashtags.”
New episodes of “It’s The Mystery For Me” air Tuesdays on Apple, Spotify, and elsewhere.
4. Affirmative Murder
Friends Alvin Williams and Fran Evans opted for a comedic spin when creating Affirmative Murder in the attic of Williams' Baltimore home, Williams told Oxygen.com.
Exploring “the darker side of true crime ... pun intended,” Williams admits to being fascinated by cults and says he can likely be found in the frozen food section of Trader Joe’s. His co-host, Evans, is described as a “badass rain, sleet, or snow USPS worker” who works part-time with the podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter cups, per the Affirmative Murder website.
Williams told Oxygen.com he was inspired to create Affirmative Murder in 2017 after hearing a popular true-crime podcast — hosted by two white women — which told the story of a Black woman’s murder. However, Williams found the hosts had “trepidations about discussing some of the socioeconomic factors and other cultural details” that should have been included in the story.
“It was like they were treading lightly so as to not say anything offensive, but in doing so, made me think how many important stories this podcast might skip all together out of those same fears of offending,” Alvin explained. “It actually clicked to me that a voice I can relate to was missing from this space."
Williams told Oxygen.com they chose comedy because they were not professionals, nodding to the lighter tones found in other true crime podcasts, such as “My Favorite Murder” and “Last Podcast on the Left.”
“The information we are finding, most people with an interest in true crime could track down in a cursory Google session,” Williams admitted. “So the spooky procedural background music and soft-spoken monotone felt very much not us.”
Still, Williams and Evans note the significance of telling stories of people whose cases don’t get much time in the spotlight “and, therefore, don’t get as many resources to the families of victims.”
5. Finding Tamika
Those wanting to learn about the social climate surrounding Black victims will want to tune in to the Audible Original “Finding Tamika,” which explores the story of 24-year-old Tamika Huston, who disappeared from Spartanburg, South Carolina in 2004. The man who confessed to killing her was sentenced to life in prison in 2006.
Produced by Color Farm Media, founded by tech executive Ben Arnon and NAACP Image Award-winning actress and activist Erika Alexander, the audiobook is “a window onto the larger ignored disappearances of Black women and girls in this country,” according to the New York Times.
Creator and writer Alexander told Oxygen.com that Huston’s family approached them about creating a serial podcast, but they weren’t sure how to tackle a case that had already been solved 20 years earlier.
“We found out that Tamika’s family was concerned that the overwhelming prejudice and racial obstacles they experienced to gain the attention of the national mainstream media had, unfortunately, remained unchanged,” said Alexander. “So we decided to go all-in and produce a premium audio series about the life and death of Tamika Huston.”
Alexander explained they wanted to explore who Huston was before becoming "the face of her own gruesome murder" and "the American poster child for a disturbing phenomenon called ‘Missing White Woman Syndrome,’” the contemporary term referring to the public's fascination with privileged white female victims while showing seeming disinterest toward victims of color.
Producers hope “Finding Tamika” can highlight media bias against people of color and the adverse effects it has on people’s health and safety, according to Alexander.
“We think shining a light in dark spaces, where marginalized peoples and their stories are typically abandoned, we can bring communities together and face these challenges,” Alexander told Oxygen.com. “It takes more than a village to remove the stigma and prejudice reserved for communities of color in media.”
“But most importantly, if Black girls and women are seen, loved, cherished, and protected now — while they are alive — we are all better off for it,” Alexander concluded.