Following the most polarizing presidential election in recent memory, a new Princeton group is seeking to foster a more open discussion on race and belonging.
“Woke Wednesdays,” a weekly podcast on Soundcloud, was created by eight Black freshmen with the intention of highlighting their experiences on campus.
I spoke with Kadence Mitchell ’20 and William Pugh ’20, two of the podcast’s founders and co-hosts, about their ambitions for the project.
“We’ve been trying to bring the community together as much as possible,” said Mitchell. “That’s where this whole idea sprung from: bringing us all together and having us all talk, even if it’s heated debates or everyone’s standing in a circle and agreeing with each other.”
The podcast, currently three episodes in, centers on a different topic each week. The most recent episode, which features Professor Imani Perry, is titled “Blackness in the Context of the Ivy League.” In the prior episode, the group discussed President Obama’s legacy.
Mitchell stresses that the podcast is not meant to speak for all Black students on campus, but rather, it exists as a platform for students to share their own personal experiences. “We’re not representatives for the race, and we don’t need to be,” she said.
Woke Wednesdays strives to offer different perspectives from within the Black Princeton community. “Just because we have a shared racial identity doesn’t mean we have a shared political identity,” said Pugh.
Mitchell and Pugh say being Black at Princeton has presented a unique set of challenges, both pronounced and subtle.
“For me personally,” said Pugh, “it’s looking around and seeing you’re the only African American person in the room, or the only person with melanin in the room, and just trying not to feel the pressure to represent your whole race, but at the same time knowing you can flip that on its head in a way and show people that, ‘Wow, the one Black person in my class is one of the smartest people in here.”
The podcast is also an effort to combat the lack of representation of student voices in the news space. “Historically speaking, we’re the ones that prompt change,” said Mitchell. “Students are so important, and so to not include our voices and just get the perspectives of people who are forty to fifty-plus, it’s not representative of our generation.”
In terms of goals for the future, Mitchell and Pugh want the podcast to reach all of Princeton, and they plan on bringing more guests on as the show evolves.
“We’re taking all of our ideas, energy, and passion and moving towards a more structured organization,” said Pugh. “Kadence and I serve as the moderators of each podcast. I’ll do one and then she’ll do the one after that. Everyone is paired up with someone to pick a topic, and we have all the dates established for when each podcast will be released.”
Though not yet an official student group, the Woke Wednesdays team says they are working on getting USG-approved. They also have ambitions to utilize a recording studio on campus.
“Saying we want our audience to be Princeton students is a means of starting small, but this conversation is important everywhere throughout the nation,” added Mitchell. “So if we could reach that level where people are listening to us in our hometowns and outside our hometowns–throughout the country–that would be great.”
You can find Woke Wednesday’s episodes here: https://soundcloud.com/user-877144100