Issue 268,  published July 28, 2020

Credit, and Criticisms of Erasure

Last week, Amanda Seales — the actor, singer, and celebrity, whose credits include Issa Rae’s Insecure — officially launched a new network, called the Smart Funny & Black Podcast Network, that springboards out of her popular show, “Small Doses with Amanda Seales.”

But the launch announcement came with a declaration that rubbed some the wrong way:

The SFB Podcast Network isn’t the first podcast network owned and operated by a Black woman, and the claim has since received pushback criticizing it as a form of erasure.

As Twila Dang, who founded Matriarch Digital Media — a podcast network and online community — in 2017, told me over email:

What’s frustrating and sad about this situation is Amanda has basically erased the hard work of Black women who came before her. We are part of a community that has had to fight for our voices to be heard in every aspect of the media (and society at large). To ignore us and pretend that she was the first Black woman to start a podcast network is an insult to a community that would have opened our arms to support her. We know how difficult creating a footprint in this industry can be. We help each other gain ground by sharing our knowledge and amplifying one another with our platforms. We show up for each other.

There has been a lot of discussion lately of the ways that marginalized communities are not included in the stories of our history. When we are erased, it makes it easier to exclude us, to deny our importance and to silence our voices. We remain an invisible “other” that is less worthy of care and consideration. Podcasting has a history too. I am a proud part of it along with a lot of amazing, hard-working Black women. And honestly, it hurts more watching a fellow Black woman dismiss us and our contributions so easily.

Dang also posted a Twitter thread listing out other podcast operations owned and operated by Black women.

I’ve reached out to the SFB Podcast Network for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

And for those curious: Small Doses with Amanda Seales comes out of a relationship between Seales and Starburns Audio, in which the latter works with Seales to produce and distribute the show. I’m told that Starburns Audio has no involvement with the SFB Podcast Network.

I run this thing.