The Vineyard Gazette today released the first episode in a new nine-part podcast called Shed: Conversations about Race.
Hosted by Island therapist Eric Adams, the podcast will unfold in interviews released weekly with full-time and seasonal residents of Martha’s Vineyard about how race has affected their lives. The first episode features award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley E. Nelson Jr.
A new episode of Shed will be released every Friday morning on the Gazette website throughout the summer. Listeners can also access Shed on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. Listen to the first episode at vineyardgazette.com/podcast.
The idea for the podcast came out of vigils held each morning last summer and fall at Beetlebung Corner in Chilmark, where people gathered and knelt for nine minutes and 29 seconds, the length of time police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck. The child of a white mother and a black father, Mr. Adams began attending the vigils as part of a growing awareness of the role race had played in his own life.
Mr. Adams teamed up with seasonal Chilmark residents Chris Fischer and Amy Schumer, Island audio engineer Dana Edelman and later the Vineyard Gazette to turn those interviews into a podcast.
“When we were finished kneeling, people needed to talk,” Mr. Adams recalled of that time. “And so someone had the idea of having these salon conversations. And then Chris Fischer asked if I would lead one for men, specifically, because we were having mostly women attend them. And out of that Chris thought about incorporating the conversations into some sort of a podcast.”
The salon conversations led to Mr. Adams conducting more in-depth, one-on-one interviews with participants — black, white and biracial — about the experiences and influences that shaped their views about race. In his interviews, Mr. Adams calls on his training and experience working with people with substance use disorder to ask guests to consider how a therapeutic model called stages of change could help individuals examine and move beyond their own prejudices.
The name of the podcast comes from the literal fact that the interviews took place in a shed, but also to underscore its larger purpose: to encourage listeners to shed their preconceived notions about race and move to a place of action to end systemic racism in their communities.
In the first episode, Stanley Nelson talks about growing up in New York city and finding some freedom from racism he felt there while spending summers with his family in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Nelson has produced and directed more than two dozen films probing aspects of African-American history, including Freedom Riders, the Black Panthers and the Murder of Emmett Till. He has won numerous Emmy awards, a MacArthur grant and a National Humanities medal.
Subsequent episodes will include interviews with two administrators from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, one black and one biracial, a mother whose son was killed by police in 2010 and a white carpenter who is coming to terms with being raised by a racist father.