Listen Up: Top 5 Podcasts

Story By: Madeline Baker

As the school year winds down, many have already started asking themselves, “What will I binge watch during exams when I really should be studying, but who am I kidding no time to study when I have all this free time?!!!!” We all do it, so let’s stop pretending we are all in the library “studying” for 12 straight hours. No, we’re catching up on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Hulu and whatever other streaming service there might be out there. I love my shows, and have already promised myself that I will get around to finishing Westworld, but for those of you who don’t care to watch shows, there is a plethora of really entertaining podcasts that I am sharing now for your exam-season listening pleasure. I prefer to listen to podcasts at night when I’m about to fall asleep, or when I’m on a long run and I want to focus on something other than the intense pain radiating through my body. Here are a few of my favorites, just in time for your all-nighter in Clem 1.

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 3.24.33 PM

Sarah Koening, the host of Serial. Courtesy of

Serial: Season 1

If you haven’t listened to the first season of This American Life’s acclaimed series, you probably didn’t pick up on a lot of pop culture references in the winter of 2014. This series changes the way you think about the American justice system and the idea of “innocent until proven guilty.” The podcast is just as the saying suggests, a serial, a story told week by week about a murder that took place in Baltimore in 1999. This podcast also brings a whole new meaning to the term “plot twist,” and I was brought to tears during some episodes, not necessarily out of sadness, but more out of shock and frustration. Anyway, get with the times and listen to this show.

read more


Story By: Pinky Hossain

At eight o’clock in the morning, Megna’s phone alarm chimed on her bedside table. She reached over, swiped her finger across the screen and checked the notifications on her phone. Megna, Allah bless u… I will be there in two hours. Remember to do ur prayers. Replying with an ok, ma, Megna tossed her phone back on the bedside table and reclined backwards. She hadn’t prayed since her mother sent her to a Sunday Islamic school when she was a teenager, but her mother liked to believe otherwise. She, like many religious mothers, felt that with time and many pressures and lots of praying away the devil in Megna, her daughter would become the modest pinnacle of Islamic virtue that Allah had always destined for her to become.

Megna got up and drowsily walked into the bathroom to get ready for the day.

In Islamic Sunday school, she learned the concept of sunnat. Before you get into heaven, the angel on the right side of your shoulder tallies the total number of the good deeds you’ve accumulated through your life and the angel on the left side of your shoulder tallies the total number of bad deeds you’ve accumulated through your life. The angels are called Kiraman Katibun. Sunnat is a special tally that the right shoulder Kiraman Katibun adds to your good deeds – a good deed that comes from mimicking actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). She imagined the angels to look less like feathery mini people wearing white gowns and white wings and more like twin brothers that wore tacky matching sweaters. The left shouldered Kiraman Katibun, however, had frown wrinkles around his mouth because his job was more tiresome than the other angel’s job. Megna was prone to bad deeds.

read more

The Black Column: A Closing


Story By: Taylor Lamb

Well, the time has come. Classes are ending. Libraries are filling up. The days are getting longer and the hours spent asleep are getting shorter. This academic year is coming to an end, which means, The Black Column is coming to an end too. The end of an era.

You’re probably thinking, “An era, Taylor? Really? It’s only had 5 updates.” But I poured my heart and soul into those updates. In my attempt to write about blackness and black issues, I grew. I evolved. The column evolved with me. I started out saying I would be reflecting on my black classes, but I ended up talking about music, and black trans women, and the fact that I don’t like people to see me cry. This was really just… a very black column. It was a place for me to talk about black things, without trying to appeal to a non-black audience, without trying to tone things down. And that was very important to me.

read more


Story By: Taylor Lamb

I cry a lot. And I mean… a lot. I have a hair trigger on my emotions and it takes very little to set me off. A raised voice, a misfortune, even just the feeling that I have disappointed someone… all of it can trigger the water works. This has been true for my entire life. It’s definitely not something I’m proud of, but it’s just a fact. If I were a character in a script or a video-game, it would be apart of my bio. Taylor Lamb is a crier.

A few years ago, I was at rehearsal for a musical in which I was the lead, and I was really struggling with something. Hitting a note? Executing a particular dance move? I don’t remember, but it doesn’t matter; the point is I was frustrated and exhausted, and as always… I started crying. I cried in front of everyone. As all of my cast members came to comfort me, my best friend said, “This is my first time I’ve ever seen you cry.” I was shocked. I think my jaw literally dropped. The two of us had been best friends for almost five years at that point! I was pretty damn sad in high school, filled with teen angst and crying nearly every day. How was it possible she hadn’t seen? But then I thought about it. Every single time I cried, I tried to do it silently. If I was in a class or at a sleepover, it didn’t matter. I’d hold it in. I would try to be strong. In fact, even more than strong. I think a lot of people would argue that the way I presented myself, at least when it came to my own personal feelings, was heartless– emotionless, as if nothing affected me. I was there for everyone else to lean on, my shoulders would get wet with everyone else’s tears, but I made sure to never let anyone else think I needed that in return. I would lean on myself, I would be my own shoulder. Okay, the image is a little awkward but you get the point. I was a “strong black woman.”

read more

Iris Reading List: Immigration

Iris reading list

Compiled by the Iris Team

If you’re anything like us, you love to read (and you love to read Iris, am I right?). We read because literature, regardless of content or style, is a gateway to thought and passion. Language tells stories, and stories are powerful little entities that can shape and reshape mentalities, take us to faraway lands, allow us to fall in love and hate, and force us to feel. And I mean, force, because you have no choice in the matter – If you are reading, you are feeling, and that’s non-debatable. So, the Iris team presents our latest column: “The Iris Reading List”, the top 5 pieces you should be reading on a variety of topics.

So, here we go…

To start, let’s talk about immigration. Regardless of how you feel (or how you thought you felt) about immigration policy and law, we are (mostly) all realizing that we may know a lot of immigrants, but we know very little about them. You may know a friend, a hairdresser, a barista at a favorite coffee shop, a favorite pediatrician recommended to you by your older and wiser sister, a neighbor, a man or woman who was not born in the United States. You may know that today, America is their home. But you may realize that you know very little about anything in between those two facts. You know they are this thing called an “immigrant” or a “visitor” or a “foreigner,” but what does that really mean? Stories can help us figure this out. Because immigrant stories are so personal, it is often difficult to encounter comfortable spaces for sharing experiences. Literature gives us that comfort, and lets us find, tell, and share stories that define the “other.”

read more