New Podcast Celebrates Black History and Future,Peter Bjork,

This article is the fourth in a series marking Black History Month that has included profiles of Black humanists and explorations of relevant issues.

Artist, activist, and director of Black Nonbelievers of DC (BNDC), Danile “Ro” Rogiérs, has launched a new podcast just in time for Black History Month 2022. BNDC is both an affiliate of the Black Nonbelievers national organization and a chapter of the American Humanist Association, and the podcast is recorded in FMG studios in Washington, DC (where Ro also produces his own music and other projects). The Where We’re Headed (WWH) podcast uses an Africana studies framework to examine and celebrate the history of religious dissent in the African diaspora and to explore how faith and non-belief impact Black communities around the world. This project expands on the group’s Legacy series, an online speaker series that was supported by American Humanist Association chapter grants, and shares insightful discussions on race, identity, community, and intersectionality with a mix of speakers, media clips, music, and a friendly welcome from Ro. I interviewed Ro to find out more about the podcast’s production.

Emily Newman: What inspired you to develop this new podcast? How did it come to be?

Danile “Ro” Rogiérs: My co-host, Verdell Wright, whom the next show will feature, came to me with the idea in 2021 following our first Legacy program (2020). We decided to tackle many of the dynamics around Black life reflected in theology and practice, from healing and self-care to personal development, sexuality and boundaries, church history, and more. We’re both Black, Queer SGL [same gender loving] men who have different yet similar backgrounds. He is an ex-minister and seminarian and I, among other things, am a former Minister of Music/Worship leader in Black Catholic and Black Protestant churches. It has taken quite a while for us to kick off the podcast due to our super-busy schedules, lives, careers, and other projects but it’s amazing to see it finally coming together.

Newman: You have a great mix of media like news clips, personal narratives, talks, and music. How do you mold each episode into a journey?

Rogiérs: Whew! It’s a lot of work but quite fun and gratifying to put together. I am a recording artist and producer with a forty-year career in music and thirty-plus years in the music business, so I’m familiar with editing and putting together audio productions. That’s the easier part. But with this project, there are no other engineers or co-producers (yet), so it’s just me alone in the editing process. That said, once I get going with the format, I have an obsessive-like drive for arranging the story arc of what I want to detail and communicate. On the wall in my studio hangs a big sign which I put up to remind me of three building blocks for the show: (1) Detail Phenomena (2) Show Connections and (3) Make Conclusions. It’s kind of like a “scientific method” for the storytelling we’re doing on WWH.

Newman: What are some topics you look forward to or hope to tackle?

Rogiérs: We recently got finished with the Christian Nationalist episodes. The first was a short expository history of religion and political colonial history, and the second featured our friend and constitutional lawyer, Andrew Seidel. In future episodes, we will be introducing Mr. Wright’s account of a “Good God Gone,” what it means to “Reimagine Community” with religious freedom advocate Dr. Sabrina Dent, the “Black Georgians” with S.I. Martin, being Black & Unrepentantly Gay in/out “The Black Church,” and one of my favorites, Hubert Harrison with Dr. Jeffrey B. Perry.

Overall, we’re taking an evergreen approach to this podcast. It’s not a day-to-day or week-to-week rundown of what’s happening to/in Black secular communities but rather a sober analysis of Black history, faith traditions, non-belief, and the ways those dynamics play in Black communities in the United States and abroad. We use an Africana studies framework to examine, critique, and celebrate the history of religious dissent in the African diaspora. That’s the goal.

Newman: What’s your favorite part of producing this podcast?

Rogiérs: Much like when I’m in the studio on other recording projects, my favorite part is the playback. Hearing the ins and outs of the narrative reflected in the clips, the music bed, and the development of the topic makes it all worthwhile, no matter how arduous the work.

Newman: Lastly, I loved the addition of children in the introduction, especially when they giggle. Are those your niece and nephew? During Humanlight 2021, I remember you saying you were going to share the Bailey books (Stardust Science and Elle the Humanist) with them.

Rogiérs: Yes, thank you! That is my nephew Reginald and niece Alesandra! I gave them the Bailey books this Christmas following our Humanlight 2021 program and they loved them. They are already being raised with a love for and healthy articulation of society, Black culture, and Black history by their parents and the world around them. And in some ways, it’s very natural to who we are as a family. They are of Caribbean and Nigerian descent and their curiosity and skepticism are sharp even at eight and six years old, so I wanted them to be represented in this effort as an extension of me but also for their future.

Listen to the Where We’re Headed podcast here.

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“Where We’re Headed” explores how faith and non-belief impact Black communities around the world.
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