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Conner Prairie podcast challenges problematic points in history

This is Problematic Podcast
Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 06, 2023

NOBLESVILLE — “Even if it doesn’t repeat itself, history sometimes rhymes.”

In honor of Black History Month, we’re introducing you to a dynamic duo who uses facts to look at problems in history that sometimes impact us today.

Nowadays, it feels like everyone has a podcast, but you probably didn’t expect one that came from a preschool at Conner Prairie.

“Welcome everyone, to another episode of This Is Problematic... a Conner Prairie Podcast. I’m Easton and I’m Hannah and we’re so happy to have you here with us as we take another dive through Problematic History,” said Easton Phillips.

Hannah Murphy and Phillips both work as curatorial research associates at Conner Prairie.

“When you have information left over, you kind of sit and think 'how can we use this?'” said Phillips.

As a result of that question, the podcast was born and brought to fruition.

WRTV Anchor Megan Shinn said, “You guys tackle some pretty problematic topics, for lack of a better word, right?”

Phillips says that's the goal. Any and all topics are on the table, including the founders of Conner Prairie.

“When we’re talking about William Connor, you don’t want to sit there and ruin people’s perceptions, but you have to tell the truth,” said Phillips.

This show unravels racist points in history you didn’t learn in class. It’s meant to teach people locally and across the world about problematic points in history.

"That gentrification episode especially hit me hard because I think that was the first time when we ever got kind of emotional on the mic," Phillips said. “Processes and structures that are in place have been in place for a while and were put in place for specific reasons, and not questioned, but they’re problematic.”

Shinn asked “in the context of Black History, how important is it to share these stories?” Phillips said “really really important.”

For these historians, finding and sharing the truth comes easily. They’ve got unique perspectives because Phillips is originally from Ohio and Murphy comes to Indiana from Scotland.

“In American media and culture, there has been this ‘great man myth.’ And so there has been this idea, this great white man and it’s this person to look up to, this figure, but it hasn’t always been deconstructed in a way that it needs to be,” said Murphy. “It takes a lot of time and hard work to deconstruct, to break down and re-build, and that’s really what we’re doing.”

The show is anchored in their research and fact-based findings are discovered and shared in real time with the community.

“It’s wonderful to get to invite people in as its ongoing, instead of them waiting 10, 15, 20 years,” said Murphy.

As more museums expand into the podcast realm, Conner Prairie welcomes conflicting thoughts.

“Hopefully we can bring some of those people who challenge us to the podcast, and hopefully encourage people to get comfortable to that learning process," Murphy said.

“No matter what you’re into, there’s a history to what you’re doing and it’s powerful,” said Phillips.

‘This is Problematic’ just finished its first season with twelve episodes. They’ll share more new podcasts beginning in the summer.

The team always posts their sources and resources online. They encourage people to look beyond the podcast and see what’s out there for themselves.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated William Conner owned slaves. The speaker was actually referring to George Washington at the time. WRTV regrets this error.

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