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UNDISTRACTED with Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Brittany Packnett Cunningham is an activist, educator, and popular TV commentator—and a trusted voice for millions of people interested in social justice. Now, with UNDISTRACTED—an original podcast from The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios—she aims her focus on the most pressing issues of our time through the lens of intersectional feminism. From the latest headlines to deep-dives with today’s most fascinating changemakers, UNDISTRACTED is your weekly guide to the revolution.

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Brittany Packnett Cunningham is an activist, educator, and popular TV commentator—and a trusted voice for millions of people interested in social justice. Now, with UNDISTRACTED—an original podcast from The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios—she aims her focus on the most pressing issues of our time through the lens of intersectional feminism. From the latest headlines to deep-dives with today’s most fascinating changemakers, UNDISTRACTED is your weekly guide to the revolution.

“Every Hashtag is a Human Being”: Honoring the Five-Year Anniversary of #MeToo

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It’s been five years exactly since millions of people, most of them women, stepped forward to say #MeToo. What have we learned since then? In our season finale, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with Tarana Burke, the woman who started the movement back in 2006, along with playwright/attorney Mary Kathryn Nagle, and organizer/attorney Monica Ramirez. Their conversation is a reflection on our post-#MeToo world—and what we actually owe survivors. But first, as always, your UNtrending news. 


Note: For more information on how to help the fight in Iran, visit Iran Human Rights

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Oct 20 2022

50mins

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The End of the World as We Know It? Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Rates our Climate Future

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The floods, the hurricanes, the wildfires…if you feel like you’re living through a climate apocalypse, you’re not wrong. But it’s not all hellfire, says marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson—there are signs of progress if you know where to look. In this episode, the “climate futurist” sits down with host Brittany Packnett Cunningham to give our planet a report card from the point of view of science, policy and climate action. The results? Not what we expected. But first, this week’s UNtrending news.

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Oct 13 2022

39mins

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“You Can’t Win if You Don’t Start”: Rep. Cori Bush on Running for Office—and Making a Difference

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Congresswoman Cori Bush doesn’t have the usual political resume: no Ivy League alma mater, no law degree, no generational wealth––but she’s an organizer, a mother, a pastor and a survivor, and she’s brought all those pieces of herself with her to Washington. Host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with Rep. Bush to talk about her brand-new memoir, her harrowing journey to the Capitol, and what it’s really like to survive in politics as a Black woman. But first, this week’s UNtrending news.


Note:

For resources on how you can help asylum seekers in New York, see here.

For more information on upcoming SCOTUS cases, see here and here.

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Oct 06 2022

33mins

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Derecka Purnell On Living (and Loving) Outside the Police State

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What do Stranger Things, social media and sexual violence all have in common? They all figure into Derecka Purnell’s brilliant world philosophy about abolition—the effort to move beyond police, and the violence too often associated with them. In this episode, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with her friend, the writer and professor, to hear more. This is a conversation about scaling big ideas down to day-to-day practice. But first, this week’s UNtrending News.

For more information on abolitionist books resources, visit here or here.

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Sep 29 2022

43mins

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The Queen Died. Now What? Three Brilliant Women on Colonialism and the Future

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The funeral is over. The pomp has died down. But the conversations—not just around the monarchy, but around the legacy of imperialism—continue around the world. So host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with three women with different perspectives on the empire: writer Luvvie Ajayi Jones, professor and scholar Caroline Elkins, and the Meteor’s Shannon Melero. Together they get into what the queen represented, what people still don’t understand about colonialism, and their own families and experiences. But first, this week’s UNtrending news. 


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Sep 22 2022

52mins

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The Hidden Latinx Stories We Don’t Hear, with Julissa Natzely Arce Raya

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It’s Hispanic Heritage Month! And Julissa Natzely Arce Raya has complicated feelings. The author of You Sound Like a White Girl sits down with host Brittany Packnett Cunningham to talk about why some stories get told so much more than others—and what that costs us. You’ll hear about rebel cheerleaders, solidarity between activists, the pressure to assimilate, and what Julissa learned from her journey through Wall Street. Plus, of course, this week’s UNtrending news. 

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Sep 15 2022

46mins

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The Kids Are All Right. The Adults Are F***ing Up!

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It’s all about the young folk this week: We’ve got Gen Z protestors disrupting anti-abortion galas…a student reporter holding colleges to task…and clever TikTokers lobbying for debt relief. And that’s just in the first ten minutes! Then, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham talks to school librarian Jennisen Lucas and author George M. Johnson about the new wave of book banning, who’s really behind it, and the lifelong damage it does– to students, and to all of us. 


Note: Read Talia’s Kantor Lieber's story about how colleges in hostile states are responding to the end of Roe: https://themeteor.us/iKxc5z. AND, to donate relief aid to Pakistan, here are some useful resources: Pakistan Red Crescent Society, Muslim Aid, and International Medical Corps.

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Sep 01 2022

45mins

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Will We Be Smarter About the Next Epidemic? Two Experts Break it Down

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COVID taught us a lot of lessons—or did it? With MPV (aka monkeypox) here in its wake, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with Dr. Monica Gandhi and Dr. David Johns to talk about what we’re getting wrong, the rise of homophobic disinformation, and why it’s still so hard for us to care for our neighbors. But first, this week’s UNtrending news.

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Aug 25 2022

47mins

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A Future Without Police? Andrea Ritchie on Crime and Abolition

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The headlines say crime is up. And our politicians say more police are the answer. What’s the truth? And what happened to all those abolitionist promises made in the summer of 2020? Host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down to answer those questions with two brilliant guests: Pulitzer-winning journalist Wesley Lowery, who explains what the media’s getting wrong about crime, and activist, writer and attorney Andrea Ritchie, who walks us through once and for all what abolition really means—and how we can take steps, big and little, to get there.

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Aug 18 2022

46mins

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“People’s Kids Are the Center of Their World”- Caitlin Dickerson on the Horrors of Family Separation

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On this week’s episode, Undistracted host Brittany Packnett Cunningham talks to journalist Caitlin Dickerson about one of the darkest policy moments in American history: the “Zero Tolerance” family separation initiative. Caitlin spent 18 months investigating family separation for The Atlantic. She conducted over 150 interviews in order to unpack the administrative decisions that led us here, as well as the collateral trauma still playing out today. In this conversation, we learn about the intentionality behind “Zero Tolerance,” the families that are still separated, and how actions like this can cause intergenerational wounds. But first, this week’s UNtrending news.

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Aug 11 2022

44mins

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Beyoncé’s Renaissance, According to Four Brilliant Black Women

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“This started off as a conversation about Beyoncé,” says host Brittany Packnett Cunningham, “but like her music, it became about so many other things: the evolution of womanhood, our queer siblings, spiritual sexuality and giving Black women their things.” So settle in and listen to legendary music writer Danyel Smith, NPR reporter Ayesha Rascoe, and theologian Candice Benbow talk about it all—from the politics of Beyoncé to why her music means so much right now. There are belly laughs, tears, and moments of deep acknowledgment. But first, this week’s UNtrending news. 

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Aug 04 2022

50mins

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“The System Works For Those Who Occupy It”: Maria Teresa Kumar on Voting Rights

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The majority of Americans didn’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned—but it was. Most Americans want gun reform—but it doesn’t happen. So the big question is: What’s going on here? Maria Teresa Kumar, cofounder of Voto Latino, understands the answers, and she lays them out here, in conversation with correspondent Treasure Brooks. They talk gerrymandering, voter suppression and the very specific races we need to win this fall in order to make things better. And of course, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham breaks down this week’s UNtrending news. 

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Jul 28 2022

37mins

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Phoebe Robinson is Writing Her Own Rules (on TV and in Life)

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"The media has such a limited understanding about Black femaleness,” says Phoebe Robinson, the actress, comedian, writer, podcast host and producer. “But the complexity is always more interesting!” So she and Brittany Packnett Cunningham go complex (and hilarious) in this episode, talking about Robinson’s new show, “Everything’s Trash”; the prospect of a Black Carrie Bradshaw; and also our trash world, beginning but not ending with Clarence Thomas. And first–this week’s UNtrending news.



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Jul 21 2022

40mins

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“Covering the End of the World”: A Reporter on Gun Violence

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You know gun violence is an American epidemic. But…why? And how do we get out of this mess? Jennifer Mascia understands those answers better than almost anyone. As a reporter with The Trace, her entire beat is gun violence. Host Brittany Packnett Cunningham sits down with her to talk about the highs and lows of the last few weeks, the threat of civil conflict, and exactly what’s wrong with the “good guy with a gun” theory. All that, and this week’s UNtrending news. 

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Jul 14 2022

41mins

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Introducing History is US

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Written and narrated by award-winning author and Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, Dr. Eddie S. Glaude, “History is US” is a 6-part audio documentary produced and developed by C13Originals that asks questions about who we are as a nation, and what race might reveal about our current crisis. Through the voices of distinguished historians and scholars, this limited series gives listeners the background and education to understand how we got here and how we can all use history to clarify the choices before us. There will always be something distinct about our present day, yet history haunts. “History is US” is a presentation of Shining City Audio, a C13Originals and Jon Meacham Studio.


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Jul 12 2022

4mins

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Tiffany Cross on Roe, Resistance and What Comes Next

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“I would rather be a voice and an advocate for my people than sit and smile in the face of bullshit.” That’s host Tiffany Cross’ philosophy—and the reason she consistently centers BIPOC voices on her MSNBC show. In this episode, recorded live in Washington, D.C., she and Brittany (colleagues *and* friends) get real about everything from the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade to what exactly is lighting up the group chat these days. All that, plus your UNtrending news.

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Jul 07 2022

47mins

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Michelle Colón is Living Through The Last Days of Legal Abortion in Mississippi

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It’s been six days since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. But activist and “abortion freedom fighter” Michelle Colón has been defending pregnant people and providers in Mississippi for years—and she’s not going to stop now. She tells host Brittany Packnett Cunningham exactly what a post-Roe future looks like, and why her only words to people who doubt her is, “You know what? Dare us.” Plus, public defender Rhiannon Hamam of the podcast 5-4 walks us through the new legal landscape.

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Jun 30 2022

42mins

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The Roe v. Wade News—and Finding Hope

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In the shadow of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, what do hope and faith mean? In this bonus episode, host Brittany Packnett Cunningham joins journalist Phillip Picardi, Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, and Jamie L. Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, to talk about religion, and the revolution ahead. This conversation originally aired on Twitter—follow us @TheMeteor for more.

If you can, please support abortion funds at: https://abortionfunds.org, check in with your local abortion fund, or support a fund in the trigger states: https://wearethemeteor.com/people-are-trying-to-get-abortions-today/

We're following organizations like We Testify (https://www.wetestify.org) and I Need An A (https://www.ineedana.com/) to stay connected, and to stay in the fight.

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Jun 25 2022

11mins

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Having a Baby While Black: Martina Abrahams Ilunga and Gabrielle Horton Know *All* The Stories

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You probably know the data about what Black women face when they give birth. But do you know the stories? Martina Abrahams Ilunga and Gabrielle Horton are committed to telling them, through their podcast NATAL. Brittany Packnett Cunningham sat down with the journalists to talk about what they’ve learned, what they advise, and her own journey to motherhood. Together, they get into the importance of community, and how to navigate a healthcare system that has systematically overlooked the Black birthing experience. It’s a rich episode—and Treasure Brooks has your UNTrending News.

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Jun 23 2022

39mins

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You Can Be Successful Where You Are: Majora Carter on Reclaiming Communities

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Jun 16 2022

36mins

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