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The Parker Edison Project: American Culture Through The Black Lens

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New podcast dives deep into what makes up modern culture in the San Diego community.

“What comes to mind when you think of American culture? Apple pie, bumper stickers, Hulk Hogan?” says Parker Edison in a new KPBS podcast, The Parker Edison Project. Edison is host and co-creator of the series that takes an intimate look at the meaning of American culture. “And I'm specifically looking at it through the Black lens, because that’s my lens.”

Edison says it is a cultural sound experience.

The Parker Edison Project: American Culture Through The Black Lens
Listen to this story by Maya Trabulsi.

“I want people to see how cool my city is,” Edison said. “There are so many of us, it feels like a little city, but there's four million people here, and so we are incredibly spread out where it's incredibly cliquish.”

Edison says the series lets us meet each other, “in fact, (the podcast) taps into a different part of the city.”

Each episode also explores topics related to food, customs, money, religion, sex, movies, and fashion. In the first episode, titled “Womxn On Film,” guest, Latanya Lockett, talks about the symbolism of hoop earrings.

“Hoops are savage. I'll wear them just with anything. I don't have to be going somewhere. I'll have a t-shirt and jeans and put on some big hoops. I want it to be the statement of my outfit. But, you know they're trying to change us,” Lockett said in the podcast.

Edison is part of the fabric of San Diego’s creative world. A TedX speaker, and a member of award-winning rap group Parker Meridien. In 2016, he won a local peacemaker award from the National Conflict Resolution Center for producing the “Reclaiming The Community Music Project,” which showcases storytellers of Southeast San Diego.

Adversity, Edison says, is a shared struggle among us, and learning how people find creative solutions is inspiring, bringing people together.

“And so I think when you hear these stories, it lets people have that experience in their car or on a run.” Edison said. “They're able to hear what happened to this person and relate to the adversity because we share the same problems. But they get to also see that triumph and how it happened for somebody else.”

The Parker Edison Project: American Culture Through The Black Lens

In episode 3, artist Oranje Space talks about how he overcame a speech impediment with music.

“It definitely helped me understand why I stuttered and it helped me understand how it works and so I think with that, it allows me to be more patient with myself and to understand why it's happening,” Oranje Space said in the podcast.

Edison thinks now is the perfect time to talk about local events that may have been glossed over the last 20 years. This show, he says, allows him to put them into context, “and be like, ‘hey, were you here for this or you were, oh, do you remember this? Did you talk to this person about it?’ And we get to kind of see the web and again, how big it is and how much happened in this little concentrated area.”

Edison says this show is unique in that it comes from a grassroots level and has local guests and stories never heard before.

“Again, even getting to meet people that are behind movements that shaped my life” Edison said. “I'm learning and I get to meet these people, so I'm getting to watch it, too. It's just the perfect time and it's just the thing that I kind of always hope to turn on the TV or turn on the radio and find. That excites me.”

The first season of The Parker Edison Project podcast has 10 episodes, released every two weeks. “The Parker Edison Project” is funded in part by the KPBS Explore Local Program Fund. You can subscribe to the series now here.