Mt. Airy Inspires a New Podcast

Lori L. Tharps, for the Shuttle

There were 525,000 active podcasts in existence in June 2018, according to Fast Company magazine. So why am I jumping into what seems like an already saturated market? 

Because I want to save the world.

The inspiration for my podcast, “My American Meltingpot,” comes from my adopted home of Mt. Airy. To understand why I think Mt. Airy is such a magical place, you must understand where I come from. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in America. Milwaukee has a sizeable black community, but blacks and whites hardly move in the same circles. My family was an exception in that we lived in the suburbs — where we were always the only black people around. I never had a black teacher, doctor or librarian. Boundary lines were clearly drawn, and there was never any reason to cross them. 

My husband and I made a very intentional decision to move to Mt. Airy with our two biracial, bicultural sons when we left New York City in 2006. What we found in Mt. Airy was something I’d always dreamed of, a neighborhood with black people and white people living on the same blocks without strife or rancor. My children have grown up witnessing what I believed only happened in multicultural fairy tales: people of every color living in peace and harmony together. Does it get any better than that? Could the whole world be saved if we could just bottle the essence of Mt. Airy and sell it?

I think so. Sometimes people need to see something before they can believe in it.

That’s why I’m launching My American Meltingpot. MAMP originally started as a blog ( 12 years ago. The blog’s tagline is, “A multicultural mix of pop culture+parenting+identity politics.” The podcast will cover the same topics, topics I find myself regularly talking about over coffee at the High Point Café, or while chatting up the booksellers at the Big Blue Marble bookstore — things like the need for diverse literature for young people, or the real meaning behind the Thanksgiving holiday.

Given the current vicious political climate and regular instances of racial violence, I think the world needs more voices signing the gospel of diversity and inclusion. Everybody has to find their own way to protest the current administration, resist the temptation to succumb to despair and amplify the truth about diversity as we know it. Launching this podcast is my way of doing all of those things. Fingers crossed it works.

The My American Meltingpot podcast launches Friday, Nov. 23.