NOEL KING, HOST:
In my time at NPR, I’ve interviewed a lot of celebrities. Less often, I get to talk to people who I think should be celebrities, like these two.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, “FOR COLORED NERDS”)
ERIC EDDINGS: Hi, I’m Eric.
BRITTANY LUSE: And I’m Brittany.
EDDINGS: And this is “For Colored Nerds.”
LUSE: The weekly show where we peel back the layers of Black culture that we rarely discuss in mixed company.
KING: Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse are hosts of a podcast archly called “For Colored Nerds.” I’ve been listening for years. The show’s premise isn’t complicated. The two of them became friends at Howard. And a couple years after graduation, they thought, maybe our conversations about books, movies, art…
EDDINGS: The articles we’re, you know, arguing about in group texts.
KING: …Are something people might want to listen to. Here’s an example of them talking about the movie “Passing” that made me laugh out loud and also think.
(SOUNDBITE OF PODCAST, “FOR COLORED NERDS”)
EDDINGS: Like, some folks argue whether Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson could even pass for white. Others made memes featuring, like, Robyn and Gizelle from “Real Housewives Of Potomac.” It was a time.
LUSE: It was a time.
EDDINGS: So, you know, fortunately, the movie is a bit more nuanced than that. Just kind of a heads up – you’re going to get spoiled.
LUSE: You’re going to spoiled, but also the book was written 92 years ago, and it’s, like, 150 pages. If you get spoiled, I don’t know what to tell you, baby.
EDDINGS: You have time.
LUSE: I don’t know what to tell you.
KING: The show, at its heart, is a celebration of Blackness, hence the name “For Colored Nerds.”
LUSE: We were tossing around so many different names. And “For Colored Nerds” kind of came out of, obviously, an appreciation for Ntozake Shange’s incredible choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf,” which is, like, classic text. It’s something that Eric and I both really appreciated. What millennial woman hasn’t participated in a (laughter) – in some production of “For Colored Girls” at some point?
LUSE: We kind of did, kind of, I think, shoehorn nerds to rhyme with girls a little bit.
KING: For a few years, they made the show for themselves and a relatively small but loyal audience. And then the business of podcasting exploded, and they got picked up by a big company and changed the show’s name. And at first, that was all really exciting.
EDDINGS: But then you kind of get in this situation where we then have to sell that idea again to executives or, you know, our supervisors, along with, you know, a few other things that have kind of been reported about. And so I think, you know, at that point that we realized, oh, this is going to be a little different than maybe we expected.
KING: So after four years, they left. The big audio company kept control of their intellectual property. That’s very common in the world of podcasting. And Brittany and Eric decided to resuscitate the show that had made them and their audience so happy. Now, they’re doing it at a really crucial time.
At the time that you started the show, I think there’s an argument that white Americans were talking about race in very different ways than they are today, right? You guys have always talked about Blackness. You’ve always talked about race. You’ve done it in ways that are both, like, serious and charming. And now it’s out there in a way that it wasn’t.
LUSE: Maybe there are a lot of white people out there who are having changes in the way that they engage with race or changes in the way that they think about race. But as far as myself, I think that, you know, all I’ve tried to do is just to come across as my truest self and also to really engage thoughtfully and truthfully with the topics that we’re discussing. And for me, that has not really changed in the past seven years. But, I mean, that’s how I feel, Eric. I don’t know (laughter) how you feel. I mean…
KING: Yeah, Eric, what do you think? I’m curious.
EDDINGS: I agree. I don’t think it’s changed – the time has changed. I think there’s a larger thing at play here, though, that speaks to an opportunity to listen. I think, you know, we used a tagline before with the show…
EDDINGS: …When we first started that was like, the conversations that Black people have when white people are not in the room.
EDDINGS: And I think, like, that’s something that, for a lot of people, is very intriguing, you know, because they’re – may be wondering, how can I, like, learn more about – just about, like, the things that are at play for Black people today? And obviously, we don’t represent all those things, but we represent some of them. And I think people have found a lot of value in the listening.
KING: I wonder about how it feels now. You take your show back, and now you own your show and you own your podcast feed, and it is your intellectual property. And you two are small business owners with a large following, and you own it. It belongs to you. Your ideas belong to you. How does that feel?
LUSE: Chef’s kiss.
LUSE: Yeah, I mean, it feels great. And I love the fact that intuition led us to this place where we’ve been able to really organically build this creative project that we love and that has a really cherished audience who enjoy the show so much. It’s so amazing to make something that you feel good about, with people that you feel good about, in a way that you feel good about and in a way, also, that, you know, your audience enjoys. It’s just, like – I mean, it’s great.
KING: Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse – they are co-hosts of the podcast “For Colored Nerds.” It is amazing. Check it out. Thank you both for being here. This was great.
LUSE: Oh, thank you.
EDDINGS: Thank you so much.
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