Political analyst Bakari Sellers celebrates the two year anniversary of his eponymous podcast this week. He made history as the youngest member ever of South Carolina’s state legislature at just 22 years of age. Sellers is also the author of New York Times bestseller My Vanishing Country: A Memoir. Black America has relied on his poignant social and cultural commentary for years and his show remains an educational tool for those looking to grow their ability to contextualize current events.
He tells The Root that discourse remains at the heart of the podcast. “It’s still a place where you can come and learn and have long-form interviews and conversations with folk. On the contrary, I’m literally learning how to interview and I admire the Gail Kings and the Don Lemons and the Oprahs of the world because it’s a skill they’ve acquired. It’s also about learning how to not talk as much and allow individuals to learn from my guests. I hope people can come and learn something new and feel smarter than when they started.”
Sellers shares that one of his favorite guests on the show was the late, great Cicely Tyson who passed away last year. “Nobody knows this is but she was prepared to be on camera. And so I actually got an opportunity to talk to her face to face, via Zoom of course. Then as we know it…we taped it on Monday and she passed away a few days later. She was so strong in her conversation, in her voice and was just so passionate. Her book [Just as I Am] is amazing. It’s Cicely Tyson, so there’s not much left to be said.”
In addition to his talk show, Sellers has masterfully navigated social media and has gone viral with some memorable tweets. Whether it was declaring the appointment of Clarence Thomas a ruse or positioning himself to engage Tucker Carlson in a debate, he knows the power of his voice. Carlson, who Sellers has notably challenged in the past, has solidified himself as an emblematic figure of racist White America. His hypocrisy and cowardice, as the host explains, is a crucial part of who he is.
“I don’t have a level of expectation for Tucker Carlson. A lot of times, people get hurt or mad or angry and part of that’s our fault because we have expectations for racists–I don’t. I expect him to be exactly what he is all the time and he hasn’t failed to miss that mark. It’s unfortunate that he’s able to pour poison in these communities and be the common denominator between a lot of the racial violence that we see in our communities.”
When it comes to the future of this country–especially in the wake of a string of controversial Supreme Court decisions–Sellers explains the importance of engaging voters enough to take action. “I think we have to regroup and figure out how we message and how we talk to people. We need to understand that voters have every right and should hold us accountable.
And that’s a legitimate question…what have you done for me? I think that Democrats have an answer but we are just not messaging properly to display that answer. That’s going to be the challenge between now and November.”
Despite the challenges, Sellers is adamant to continue the work that he’s doing. “I live to uplift my community and I will always be very mindful of that goal regardless of what anyone thinks or says about me.”
Though he didn’t comment on his Urban Empowerment Pac working to unseat congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to support Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey in Michigan’s August primary, he insists his political maneuvering serves a higher purpose. “At the end of the day, I just want us all to be free.”